The interception reports that In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded nonprofit venture capital firm, has just joined Peter Thiel and Winklevoss Capital in pumping money into Colossla Biosciences, a company engaged in cloning mammoths woolly.
Of course, as some people are quick to point out, even the best use case of this technology won’t lead to wonderful woolly mammoth zoos:
(I personally think we should stop shaming greasy-haired elephants, but I digress)
So why the sudden interest in Ice Age mammals and moisturizing lotion? Well, why not? The CIA has always been interested in the weird stuff of pseudoscience. Hell, In-Q-Tel also invests in skincare products. Woolly mammoths, however, could serve a more specific purpose: collecting DNA data, courtesy of CRISPR-Cas9. Of The interception:
Colossal uses CRISPR gene editing, a genetic engineering method based on a naturally occurring type of DNA sequence. CRISPR sequences occur on their own in some bacterial cells and act as an immune defense system, allowing the cell to detect and excise viral material that attempts to invade. The eponymous gene-editing technique was developed to work in a similar way, allowing users to cut out unwanted genes and program a more ideal version of the genetic code.
Adopting this technology, according to the In-Q-Tel blog, will help US government agencies read, write and modify genetic material and, most importantly, direct global biological phenomena that impact “competitiveness”. nation to nation”. “while allowing the United States “to help set the ethical standards, as well as the technological standards” for its use.
In-Q-Tel did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment.
There’s a lot more fascinating stuff – both about CRISPR and the CIA’s broader interest in controversial biotechnology – in the Intercept room.
The CIA Just Invested in Woolly Mammoth Resurrection Tech [Daniel Boguslaw / The Intercept]
Image: Flying Puffin / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 2.0)