An interesting article by security expert Bruce Schneier and Larisa Rudenko explains how the upcoming field of bioengineering is a lot like software engineering and talks about the associated risks and dangers. Here’s from “What digital nerds and bio geeks have to worry about” (September 13th 2019) published on CNN:
Genes and genomes are based on code — just like the digital language of computers. But instead of zeros and ones, four DNA letters — A, C, T, G — encode all of life. (Life is messy, and there are actually all sorts of edge cases, but ignore that for now.) If you have the sequence that encodes an organism, in theory, you could recreate it. If you can write new working code, you can alter an existing organism or create a novel one.
If this sounds to you a lot like software coding, you’re right. As synthetic biology looks more like computer technology, the risks of the latter become the risks of the former. Code is code, but because we’re dealing with molecules — and sometimes actual forms of life — the risks can be much greater.
In 2010 Craig Venter and his colleagues recreated the genome of a simple bacterium. More recently, researchers at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Britain created a new, more streamlined version of E. coli. In both cases the researchers created what could arguably be called new forms of life.
This is the new bioengineering, and it will only get more powerful. Today you can write DNA code in the same way a computer programmer writes computer code. Then you can use a DNA synthesizer or order DNA from a commercial vendor, and then use precision editing tools such as CRISPR to “run” it in an already existing organism, from a virus to a wheat plant to a person.
Our worries are more prosaic. As synthetic biology “programming” reaches the complexity of traditional computer programming, the risks of computer systems will transfer to biological systems. The difference is that biological systems have the potential to cause much greater, and far more lasting, damage than computer systems.
Programmers write software through trial and error. Because computer systems are so complex and there is no real theory of software, programmers repeatedly test the code they write until it works properly. This makes sense, because both the cost of getting it wrong and the ease of trying again is so low. There are even jokes about this: a programmer would diagnose a car crash by putting another car in the same situation and seeing if it happens again.
Even finished code still has problems. Again due to the complexity of modern software systems, “works properly” doesn’t mean that it’s perfectly correct. Modern software is full of bugs — thousands of software flaws — that occasionally affect performance or security. That’s why any piece of software you use is regularly updated; the developers are still fixing bugs, even after the software is released.
Bioengineering will be largely the same: writing biological code will have these same reliability properties. Unfortunately, the software solution of making lots of mistakes and fixing them as you go doesn’t work in biology.
This sounds a lot like the process described by Zecharia Sitchin in his “Earth Chronicles” book series, where he explains, based on the Sumerian tablets, how humans were created by the Anunnaki through genetic engineering by lots of trial and error. Several versions of humans were created, with all kinds of defects, before the Anunnaki arrived at the final version. And even the final version — “Homo sapiens” — wasn’t perfect and contains a lot of defects; like I previously discussed, Lloyd Pye goes into lots of detail on this in his book “Everything You Know Is Wrong, Book One: Human Origins.”
This might also explain the experiments done by extraterrestrials on “abducted” humans around the world. One possibility is that they’re studying the damage done to life on Earth, trying to figure out how to debug and fix the problems created in the past before the problems spread out too far into the universe.