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from The Wall Street Journal
Scientists Produce First Digital-to-Human
Pharmaceuticals see "bio-digital"
bonanza, as Congress ponders
By GEORGE TRINKAUS
staff science writer
BETHESDA, Md. -- A U.S. scientific team has engineered the first successful crossover of a computer virus to human subjects, thus raising the specter of a worldwide epidemic vectored by the internet. Dubbed "nerd flu" by the scientific press, the new bio-digital virus produces high fevers, acute respiratory congestion (similar to that of SAARS) and other flu-like symptoms. Mental derangement is also in the clinical picture. Nerd flu can be fatal.
transmission of computer-generated bio-digital viral infections is also
possible, according to a spokesman for the project. Of the five deaths
of prisoner test subjects in the project's Vacaville studies, two could
be attributed to human-to-human transmission.
The new technology also points to the possibility of custom computer-generated "designer diseases." The Defense Research Project Agency (DARPA) has expressed interest in the project's potential and contemplates applications in bio-warfare and population-management projects. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both expressed keen interest in the project.
nano-plasma disease agents are particularly abundant and virulent when
they condense on old-style monitors. This is due to the electrostatic
charge that accumulates on the glass surface of high-voltage
cathode-ray tubes. Under these conditions, bio-digital nano-plasmas
accumulate with ten times the intensity of those observed on the newer
liquid crystal flat-screen monitors. A WHO spokes observed how this condition could facilitate population-management programs that target a specific negatively privileged social class.
"Our computer models predicted that this formidable machine-man crossover was a possibility, so we went ahead and did it first," said Dr. Seymore Smyth, director of the five-year-old, $2 billion Cyber-Viral Project, which is funded by The National Institutes for Health (NIH) under joint contract to Merck and Microsoft.
"This was preemptive research," continued Dr. Smyth. "Think Iraq, think bird flu. We anticipated how hackers could conceivably engineer such a phenomenon and inflict great damage on the population. Of course, now that we have developed the methodology, there is also the concern that cyber-criminals could steal our secret codes. We try to stay a jump ahead of these terrorists."
Says Smyth, "We already have novel pharmaceutical counter-agents for nerd flu in the works." At Merck and Microsoft, scientists are formulating a new generation of bio-digital antivirals and vaccines that can be downloaded on the internet and paid for by credit card.
Patents on the technology, which will be held jointly by Merck and Microsoft, are expected to hold great value. Bio-digital stocks may soon become the latest high-tech sensation on Wall Street.
Representatives from NIH, the CDC, and WHO will also testify in favor of expanded powers at a closed House Internal Security Committee hearing next Tuesday. Meanwhile, administration sources say that if Congress does not act promptly and appropriately, the emergency may have to be addressed by executive order.
Smyth, "A preemptive worldwide shutdown of the internet may soon be
necessary to protect the public from the impending deadly hazards of
George Trinkaus wrote How the Chronicle Invented AIDS
High Voltage Press