Forum: looking for a bioinformatics project to do during military rotation
2
gravatar for hasani.iut6
11 weeks ago by
hasani.iut630
Iran, Islamic Republic Of
hasani.iut630 wrote:

Hi all.

I want to do a project for my military service in bioinformatics area. I have to determine the subject myself. I have been search a lot but I could not find any military application of bioinformatics.

Would you please help me to find some source ?

TNX all,

Mansoor.

military forum bioinformatics • 1.2k views
ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630
2

Dear hasani.iut6,

Just to ask you directly, are you sure this is the right thing to do and have you considered the ethical consequences of your results?

All the best Michael

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k

Dear Michael,

I just saw the conversation on my topic right now, Actually these ways of thinking that some you have are very uncomfortable and make me really sad. I don't wanna to do some work against the humanity however If I wanted, I didn't look up for that here, biostars is a forum for scientists that want to help each other. You think that anyone that living in Iran is a terrorist. I am really sorry for you.

best regards.

Mansoor.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630
2

I don't think anyone believes that all Iranians are terrorists. Rather, many of us have concerns about military-related research, since it's often a small step to convert defensive capacities to offensive capacities (e.g., if you know how pathogen detection works, then you can modify pathogens to avoid detection). While Iran has its own set of issues, the broader concerns apply to interacting with all militaries.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Devon Ryan73k
2

Dear Mansoor,

I can assure you my answer would have been equally worded whatever your country of residence, (be it USA,Germany,Russia, or Norway) and certainly I do not believe that anyone from Iran is specifically prone to be a terrorist. In fact, you have touched on a heated discussion point for the site, that is of relevance beyond your particular personal case.

As you were asking for military applications specifically, there are possible applications of "sword" and "shield" or offense and defense, however to draw the line is not always that clear, and in addition every side will claim that their measures are purely of defensive nature. This is irrespective of your intentions, which I do not know and will not judge, but believe are all good and well in nature.

For the offense part of military applications in question, as in use of a weapon, there is no room for interpretation, these should not exist, and that is half of the answer to the original question posed by you.

For the defensive portion, there is more room for interpretation, but even there it is possible to achieve something bad while having all the best intentions.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k
1

Dear Mansoor, I was the one raising this point. For a moment I didn't think your goal is to develop bioterrorist, I know you are a scientist and your goals are for humanity. However, when you are developing tools for the army, and in this case an army involved in inhumane activities you don't always know what will be the application of your work.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k

I didn't know that this question might cause this much concern. I was just looking for a bioinformatics topic that can be accepted in a military organization not necessarily for offensive or defensive purpose, I had no idea for the topic so I posed that here to find some hint.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630

Your original title "military application of bioinformatics" for this post was not an appropriate choice. If you had just asked "looking for a bioinformatics project to do during military rotation".

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by genomax37k

but even though, still will be in military orientation I think !!

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Medhat7.1k

I can't change the whole purpose

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630
4
6
gravatar for Michael Dondrup
11 weeks ago by
Bergen, Norway
Michael Dondrup43k wrote:

The important question in this context should be if such applications are desirable and whether it is morally defendable to take part in such research. Refer for example Biological Weapons Convention. To put it clear, any attempt to contribute to the development or applicability (including vaccine development with the aim of protection of own forces) of biological weapons would be a crime against humanity, and that is not just an opinion but a worldwide consensus.

Bioinformatics - like other fields of research - does not exist in a vacuum, instead research is an important part of society. Therefore, there needs to be a broad discussion about research ethics and I think it is time for bioinformatics to come out of its ivory tower. Probably, there are currently few military applications of bioinformatics, and they seem to be mostly defensive in nature, but that does not have to stay like that. Other parts of computer science are effectively already more advanced in this respect. Take the discussion about autonomous weapon systems as an example.

I think that the original post is in fact controversial and one could argue for closing but I was hoping for some more critical remarks.

ADD COMMENTlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k

In your opinion, does this paper represent a crime against humanity?

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by 5heikki6.9k

Hmm, what is your opinion on that? I think it has been discussed a lot in the media whether it was responsible to the release the mutations that could turn the virus into a potent human pathogen to the public. This is a paper though, it is not a weapon, - and I clearly emphasized on the development of weapons. My personal opinion is however that this is borderline, possibly I personally wouldn't have shared the info. I think it is comparable to the case to publish on nuclear fission vs. building the H-bomb (unfortunately a timely comparison).

Just to be clear again, there is no moral high-ground here, but at least ethics need to be taken into consideration by the individual researcher. And also I wanted to use the opportunity to ask OP if he/she is pretty sure about that this is the right thing to do, because I'm not.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k

I don't disagree that as researchers we have an ethical situation to consider. In this particular case, call me naive maybe, but I did not assume that the OP would be attempting anything malicious in nature, and that rather it would constitute some kind of biodefense research - hence my answer was something along the lines of a topic I can only perceive as a defensive one, i.e. detection of, and therefore protection from, pathogenic agents.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.9k

Sure, I don't think anyone would come here for an introduction on bioterrorism, however, the question was raised as it was, and my answer is about 50% of the answer. Also, bear in mind that a means of defense can be instrumental for an offense as well.

Also, when we talk about military applications in general, then of course weapons come to mind.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k

My purpose was to define a project of bioinformatics in the military field and there was not any anti humanity purpose.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630
3
gravatar for Nathan S. Watson-Haigh
11 weeks ago by
Adelaide
Nathan S. Watson-Haigh190 wrote:

The Australian Department of Defence Science & Technology use bioinformatics in the areas of defence against biological and chemical threats. Perhaps look at publications with this affiliation to get some ideas.

https://www.dst.defence.gov.au/capability/chemical-and-biological-defence

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by Nathan S. Watson-Haigh190
3
gravatar for Asaf
11 weeks ago by
Asaf4.6k
Israel
Asaf4.6k wrote:

Hi Biostars It's great that you are willing to help scientists in need, I just want to remind you that the army he's serving in is fighting alongside Bashar el Assad in Syria, attacking civilians with nonconventional weapons and active in other crimes against humanity. Please take a moment to think about it.

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k
2

I don't think it's for us to pick sides, we just answered the question as it was posed on the forum.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.9k
1

I'm not talking about taking sides, I don't think ISIS or Jahbat el Nusra are better. I just think we shouldn't cooperate with some applications of science.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k
2

I think you are touching upon an important point, with your concern about research ethics, this discussion should definitely have a place under a 'forum' type of post.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Michael Dondrup43k
1

Apparently someone thought my comment was not in place and deleted it. I re-opened it since I think this is highly relevant for us as humans and scientists. The question might sound a bit general and clueless but the principle should be the same. If the asker would to ask about chemical weapon would you cooperate? Missile physics? This is no different.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k
1

I deleted it. It's offtopic. This is not a politics forum. Should us humans and scientists write something about an apartheid regime following every question posted by someone from Israel? I would delete those posts too. Something to consider. I'm not going to engage in any further debate concerning this.

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by 5heikki6.9k
3

In my view the entire post is off-topic. I don't look at the nationality of people I respond to, I don't care at all and on the contrary, I love to help people from Arab or Muslim countries. Regarding your suggestion, yes, if someone asked a question specifically related to unethical issues I would raise a red flag as I did here.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k

of course... of course...

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Sanjarbek Hudaiberdiev70

Your answer shed the light onto an important part, But what is the maximum you think he will get from a public paper?!

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by Medhat7.1k
1

It's an interesting question and worthy of discussion, but it's not a hypothetical, at least. As a recent example, one can look at the public health and national security controversies over publishing H5N1 research by Kawaoka and Fouchier, for instance. Scientists and engineers are often more concerned with making tools than the ethics of their use.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Alex Reynolds21k
2
1
gravatar for jrj.healey
11 weeks ago by
jrj.healey2.9k
United Kingdom
jrj.healey2.9k wrote:

Detection of pathogens, particularly those pertinent to biosecurity/terror, is a common task.

Actually creating a tool wouls be pretty easy, but you probably need to come up with a new method that improves on existing ones in some form. E.g. is faster, easier to deploy or uses some biological basis that no one has thought of before.

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.9k
1

I would start with detection of viruses.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by Asaf4.6k

would you please explain more clear for me?! For example, could you suggest me a paper?

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bsp.2009.0024

Found that within 30 seconds of googling "bioterrorism and bioinformatics". I suggest you just spend some time reading in the area and see if you can spot an opportunity. No one here is going to be able to invent a project for you though.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by jrj.healey2.9k
3

Google may not be available from OP region. Something to consider in future.

ADD REPLYlink written 11 weeks ago by genomax37k

I was just need some sources and keywords not more and thank you for helping

ADD REPLYlink modified 11 weeks ago • written 11 weeks ago by hasani.iut630
0
gravatar for 5heikki
11 weeks ago by
5heikki6.9k
Finland
5heikki6.9k wrote:

Mash was developed at least in part in the context of biodefence.

ADD COMMENTlink written 11 weeks ago by 5heikki6.9k
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