Page 16 - Australian Defence Magazine - July 2018
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Seeking an unfair advantage EDTAS examines human biotechnologies
Small group work was a feature of the format.
Human biotechnologies
The two day human biotechnologies sym- posium was held at the Adelaide Zoo and hosed by DST in partnership with the Uni- versity of Adelaide and Neotic. Keynote ad- dresses were delivered by Chief Defence Sci- entist Dr Alex Zelinsky (via video link from Canberra) and Brigadier Craig Schramm, Director General Health Capability.
These keynote addresses were followed by a two-day series of presentations from subject matter experts in the field of human biotech- nologies from across academia, together with a workshop activity designed to consider possible technologies which may be used to enhance human performance in a notional ‘Augmented Human Games’ in 2040.
The symposium was divided into two parts, the first day considering what hu- man measurement technologies might exist in 2040 and the second looking at human modification technologies which may have the potential to enhance or degrade human performance or resilience.
Measurement technologies under con- sideration included bioinformatics (math- ematical and computer science techniques of understanding human data); biochem- istry, genomics, nano-robotics and bio- sensing technology.
Human modification technologies can- vassed the art of the possible in the 2040 timeframe and included such topics as met- abolic engineering; genetic engineering, delivery systems and physiological enhance- ment and augmentation.
The symposium was aimed at explor- ing these broader implications of human technologies from a societal standpoint and what legal and ethical challenges might be faced with the adoption of some of the areas canvassed.
Seeking the unfair advantage
In his opening address, Dr Zelinsky ex- plained that what the EDTAS series was striving for was to either create strategic surprise for Australia and its allies, or to prevent that strategic surprise from being applied by the enemy.
Hosted by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group), the latest in the Emerging and Disruptive Technology Assessment Symposium (EDTAS) series, was
held in Adelaide in May and focussed on Human Biotechnologies.
THE ETDAS initiative is funded under the Defence Industry & Innovation Next Gen- eration Technologies Fund and explores various science and technology subjects which may have a major impact for Defence and national security in 20-30 years’ time, with the aim of providing Australian forces an unfair advantage over their opponents.
Human Biotechnologies is a one of nine technical areas identified in the 2016 De- fence White Paper which may possibly be developed and exploited to either provide that unfair advantage, or prevent Austra- lian forces being surprised by an enemy who has invested in this area.
The themes for EDTAS are drawn from the Next Generation Technologies Fund and, in partnership with academia and indus- try, DST is exploring the opportunities for game changing technologies in several areas, including human biotechnologies, cyber technologies, space research, hypersonic re- search and advanced materials technology.
The Next Generation Technologies fund has allocated $730 million over the period to 2026 to focus on research into these emerging and future technologies for what it terms the “future Defence force after
next”. If technologies explored under ED- TAS show promise, in terms of being devel- oped into a realistic future capability, they can be further developed under the Defence Innovation Hub initiative.
“The EDTAS series helps future-proof Australian Defence, utilising the Next Generation Technologies Fund to consider an expansive science and technology topic that will likely have a major impact for the Defence or National Security domains in the 20-plus year timeframe,” DST said.
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