Monday, August 11, 2014

Missiles are the new Mines

Even as speculation is ripe on the WWW on whether it is the pro-Russian separatists BUK anti-aircraft missile OR the Ukrainian Air force air-to-air missile that felled it, it can't be denied for a fact that the actual on-the-ground MH17 crash investigation is getting inexplicably slower & rather covert lately.

Either which way, one has to but agree with Dr. Brahma Chellaney when he says in his recent article "To prevent another MH17, examine root causes" that the most critical aspect to be addressed in light of this tragedy is effectively barring/ preventing countries from transferring SAMs to non-state actors.

While inter-state relations, arms-control isn't generally what I write on, a specific aspect in the above article prompted me to share my opinion. It's about the US administration apparently considering building-in a remote kill-switch in the sophisticated TOW anti-tank missiles being provided to the 'moderate jihadists' in Syria with a noble intention of ensuring these missiles aren't usable in any other hands &/or for any other sinister purpose (i.e. other than fighting the Assad regime!) - this stuck me as throwing-in yet another deadly uncertainty into the already impossibly volatile cocktail of missile proliferation among non-state groups;

Below is the comment I posted against the above article;


Great insight as always Dr. Chellaney! Even if supplier states indeed wish to NOT let non-state/rogue-states use their SAMs for any deviant purpose (if there’s any other kind), the plan of ‘building obsolescence’ into missiles, while sounds sci-fi, comes across as an ill-conceived strategy since this’d create a supplier base that differentiates its offering by way of NOT building in obsolescence into its ware – any incremental risk-mitigation from the innovation would thus be negated by this newly introduced uncertainty. The trading states probably would be better off exercising precaution through consensus trade regulation than resorting to doomsday preparedness features as these.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cloudsciencing [sic]

A potential game-changer in contract research services domain & I’m talking about the latest concept that calls “Putting Science in the Cloud” in its intro of Emerald Cloud Laboratory, essentially what looks like an idle infrastructure monetization initiative of the 'stealth start-up', Emerald Therapeutics.
Pun apart, if indeed this turns out like it’s promised, a scientist in any part of the world will be able to simultaneously prescribe & iterate-on (with the robotic handlers) the experiments that she/he outsourced. This in turn will make it easy for more drug discovery start-ups to emerge (including some garage innovators too..) & pursue their dreams in a quicker, cheaper & more efficient way (~ the likes of DNAnexus claim that as scale emerges, it’s possible that a whole human genome can be sequenced for a mere $1000!)
The above scenario also implies that scale is a possibility & efficiency at scale an absolute need for any player in this emerging domain.
With only JIT availability of both laboratory & equipment consumables as a probable potential 'scale-limiting' bottleneck, I won't be surprised if the domain of cloud contract laboratory services (I wouldn’t yet call this research..) is quickly populated & dominated by the likes of Life Technologies, a process likely starting with acquisition of buyer organizations by these technology platform & consumable behemoths.
An exciting prospect surely for a scientist currently hyperventilating while awaiting the outcome of an outsourced experiment.