In my first article "Bad Bugs: Micro Air Vehicles as a Delivery System for Biological Weapons," I discussed how emerging technologies will likely change the landscape of offensive biological weapon research. While advances in technology such as MAV's is the purview of DARPA, unfortunately, the potential for states of concern, to modify these exciting technologies can not be ignored. Certainly an aspect of bio-defence in considering offensive capability of defensive technologies.
No doubt current research is underway to assess the risk BW embedded MAV (Micro Aerial Vehicle) payloads combined with swarming drone technology, poses to the war-fighter, should it be used in the future offensively against our own forces and and/or civilian populations. It would be quite easy to imagine various scenarios where tiny swarming drones released a highly weaponized pathogenic agent into the ventilation system of a subway or airport. Hopefully security experts are very far down the line, working to develop counter-measures for this potential future weapon system; perhaps counter measures which include focused low-level electromagnetic pulses embedded in specific configurations in ventilation systems, to move beyond the standard filters. Would it be possible to burn up MAV's in an enclosed system thereby killing two birds with one stone, should there be a BW payload? Does the potential exist to develop or impregnate 'sensitive' construction materials with low level magnetic coatings? Traditional filtration alone may not be compatible in countering this type of deployment platform. From an offensive weapon viewpoint, which we must consider in order to take appropriate defence counter-measures, it might be interesting to consider how future technologies might merge, such as the use of vanishing technologies (which I have written on previously); whereby there would be no immediate trace that a bug drone even delivered deadly pathogens.
One of the characteristics which sets biological weapons apart, certainly from chemical and nuclear class weapons, is that as we progress in areas such as synthetic biology, and even in some instances, without this advancement, biological pathogens which are highly virulent need not be delivered in abundance. Quite the opposite. A relatively robust hit could be accomplished with a minimum of actual pathogenic agent, particularly if it has undergone genetic modification or specific modifications to the weaponization process to increase dispersal. Without going into great technical detail on aerosolization, it is this aspect of deployment which I view as one of the more interesting per future BW development and compatible delivery platforms. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerosol
In many ways a tiny MAV- BW payload would be an advanced dispersal technology platform which, if encapsulated properly, could evade current detection systems as well. The future of binary BW technology where timed components could be remotely activated could be an emerging technology for which we must, as a nation,be prepared. While this is clearly the domain of national defence programs as it involves a number of technologies which are not suited to backyard bio-hacking, it does combine technologies which will likely become platforms of choice for biological warfare weapons of the future. How we counter the threat of these emerging technologies will advance our understanding of biological weapons considerably and enhance our ability to counter emerging threats.
Merging Future Technology with Future Challenge in Bio-defence
Other highly pathogenic and weaponized agents could be used as well. Synthetic and nano particle agents for which no-vaccine or medical counter measure currently exist pose more specific problems for which unconventional counter-measure, as noted above, may likely provide solutions.