In this installment of the Future Grind podcast, host Ryan O’Shea speaks with Supervisory Special Agent Edward You of the FBI’s Biological Countermeasures Unit. This unit falls within the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, and is focused on identifying existing and emerging biological threats, and ultimately on preventing acts of bio-terrorism. Because of this focus, SSA You spends much of his time examining the possible risks posed by synthetic biology, gene editing, and other fast-growing fields of development. He has a special interest in establishing partnerships with with community DIYbio labs, and has previously spoken at DEF CON’s Biohacking Village.
They discuss the mission and operation of the Biological Countermeasures Unit, the perceived differences between intentional and accidental harm, the FBI’s interest in community labs and citizen science, resources available for members of the biohacking and DIYbio communities, and much more.
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What is the FBI’s Biological Countermeasures Unit [2:01]
The focus on prevention of crime [3:09]
A day in the life of SSA You [4:10]
Identifying threats by listening to the community [5:35]
Risks posed by Biohacking, DIYbio, and citizen science [8:44]
Different risks of academics, private sector, and citizen scientists [10:53]
Difference between intent and accident [12:52]
Risks posed by health and personal data [17:43]
CRISPR and gene editing [22:37]
Where do implants fit into the conversation? [25:19]
Legality of implanting devices [26:52]
Interdepartmental communication on policy suggestions [30:26]
FBI outreach and engagement [31:35]
How biohackers and citizen scientists can stay on law enforcement’s good side [33:56]
Establishing contact with a WMD field coordinator [36:55]
International agencies focused on bio [40:36]
Domestic agencies focused on bio [41:34]
Resources available for the biohacking & DIYbio community [42:53]
Pushback against the FBI in these spaces [45:33]
How to join the FBI [47:33]
SSA You’s background and path to the FBI [49:33]
What the future holds for the Biological Countermeasures Unit [51:03]
2001 anthrax attacks
Biological Weapons Convention
Dr. Evil - UK Body Modification charges
18 U.S. Code § 175. Prohibitions with respect to biological weapons
National Biodefense Strategy
DIYbio, Code of Ethics
United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI)
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