DARPA Says It Wants to Weaponize Sea Creatures to Spy on Enemy Submarines

Thursday, 29 March 2018 - 1:43PM
Weird Science
Thursday, 29 March 2018 - 1:43PM
DARPA Says It Wants to Weaponize Sea Creatures to Spy on Enemy Submarines
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Image credit: YouTube
When it comes to military secrets, it's often said that loose lips sink ships. Now, the phrase must evolve: if the US military has its way, then loose-lipped fish will start sinking submarines.

America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced a new plan that involves hijacking the senses of various aquatic life forms in order to keep better tabs on what happens in the water surrounding the US and her allies.

The plan is to try and create some kind of equipment that can sense fish and their movements, the logic being that these animals will be able to spot strange, mysterious submarines moving in the water a lot easier than any man-made technology.

According to DARPA, the ideal solution would be to find a way to tap directly into un-altered marine life forms, but if this doesn't work, they're not above some good old-fashioned genetic experimentation to try to create a fishy super spy—real-life James Pond, if you will—that will be able to report back to HQ about the various anomalies that might be invading the oceans.

DARPA is also eager to clarify that any genetically altered fish would be tested thoroughly in controlled facilities before being allowed into the ocean. Nobody's interested in kicking off a mutant genius fish apocalypse.

Presumably, they also won't start by making sharks super smart, but, then, you never can tell with DARPA.

According to program manager Lori Adornato, the Persistent Aquatic Living Sensors (shortened to the adorable acronym "PALS") program offers a lot of advantages, provided scientists can find a way to read fishy minds from a distance:

Opening quote
"The U.S. Navy's current approach to detecting and monitoring underwater vehicles is hardware-centric and resource intensive. As a result, the capability is mostly used at the tactical level to protect high-value assets like aircraft carriers, and less so at the broader strategic level. If we can tap into the innate sensing capabilities of living organisms that are ubiquitous in the oceans, we can extend our ability to track adversary activity and do so discreetly, on a persistent basis, and with enough precision to characterize the size and type of adversary vehicles."
Closing quote

This plan sounds very similar to a recently announced DARPA project that will attempt to use plant life as spies around noteworthy secret military installations—by planting audio receptive plants around places of note, the military will be able to spot if someone unexpected is lurking in the trees.

Of course, one has to wonder why DARPA would be so eager to announce their plans for flora and fauna-based espionage when the projects are in their infancy. As with similarly ridiculous schemes that China is working on, it does seem like it makes sense to try and keep these projects a secret so that potential enemies are unaware of the full technological might that the military possesses—especially when it comes to formulating invasion plans or covert spy missions.

On the one hand, if you'd learned to communicate with the creatures of the sea, you'd want the street cred that comes from announcing your achievement far and wide.

More likely, though, is that DARPA's gonzo announcements are masking other research projects. If the US military can convince its enemies that even the fish are on our side, they might not think too hard about what else DARPA might be developing to deploy in the sea.

Perhaps we should all be on the lookout for super smart robot sharks with jetpacks after all!
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