Acronyms—those clanking runes, that acid to the eye—must have been concocted by the devil himself. Imagine a Book of Genesis in which A&E were happy in the GOE until they ate the fruit of the TOK. The word of God would have perished in the desert.
A few acronyms, however, are less reprehensible than the language they replace. Consider “DARPA” and “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.” Which hurts less to look at? The devil wins this round. Then again, DARPA is sometimes ascribed diabolical intentions.
DARPA is the Defense Department agency that makes “pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security.” It claims credit for “game-changing military capabilities such as precision weapons and stealth technology”—and also for “icons of modern civilian society such as the Internet, automated voice recognition and language translation, and [GPS].” These days, as reported by Joey Mendolia at c4isrnet, DARPA is paying greater attention to nature. Good news?
Well, DARPA thinks so. Through a program called Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics—“OFFSET,” naturally—it is seeking to incorporate fish and bird behavior into the capabilities of swarming, weaponized drones. DARPA wants to turn plants—through genetic modification, of course—into early-warning sensors that can detect pathogens, radiation, and the like. To make the nation’s food supply more resilient against attack, DARPA wants to engineer organisms so that different individuals prefer different environmental niches. It wants, through something called the Insect Allies program, to infect bugs with plant viruses that will confer protection upon the plants.
Wait—did someone say “Insect Allies?”
For God’s sake.