China’s spy agency has issued a chilling warning about the development of “gene weapons” that can target a specific ethnicity or race. According to reports shared by the South China Morning Post, the Ministry of State Security claimed in an official WeChat post that some nations are targeting the Chinese population with “ulterior motives.”
While this might sound like fearmongering over something right out of a science fiction novel, some researchers say that the current level of genetic data gathering, as well as advanced DNA sequencing and the use of AI like ChatGPT, could make “ethnic bioweapons” a possibility.
It is certainly an interesting claim, and while the China Ministry of State Security didn’t name any specific states, the idea that any kind of gene weapons might be under development is scary for any ethnicity of people throughout the world. The news has also come on the outrageous and mind-boggling claims from some that COVID-19 was a gene weapon designed not to target individuals of Jewish or Chinese descent.
The use of genetics-based weapons has no doubt been a concern for many as the world uncovers more and more genetic advancements. That and gene editing to make “super soldiers” are the bread and butter of science fiction. But just how science fiction are they?
According to Oliver Jones, the head of Biosciences and Food Technology at RMIT University, it lies “purely in the realm of science fiction.” At least that’s what he told the South China Morning Post. As with anything like this, opinions are bound to change depending on who you ask.
If gene weapons are under development somewhere, then it’s likely we could see more bioweapons usage in the future. That concern has always been underlined as technology advances, though. While it would be easy to buy into fearmongering, there isn’t any official or satisfactory evidence to point to such claims being true at the moment.
Still, it is concerning to hear one nation throwing out such accusations, and it does add some concern to the overall power that AI, like the models powering ChatGPT, could have in the future.