Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Rogue Group Attacks Nanotechnology in Mexico

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The anarchist group known as ITS (Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje or “Individual actions bordering on being savage” as it would roughly translate in English) gained notoriety in Mexico on Monday (August 8) when they claimed responsibility for a home-made explosive device that detonated in the hands of Tec de Monterrey Estado de México professor Armando Herrera Corral on the first day of school of this semester. A second device was found in another university (Instituto Politécnico Nacional) the next day; luckily authorities were able to remove and defuse it.

Through its blog “Liberación Total” ITS claims that it is an organization against all forms of domination. Radical language against the neoliberal model is of course included, with the usual blurb about the United States dominating the world, cultural and economic imperialism, etc. ITS states that nanotechnology will lead to the downfall of mankind and paints a fatalist picture of the future where artificial intelligence will take over and control mankind. Tempting as it may seem, we really shouldn’t blame Arnold Schwarzenegger and those Terminator movies for the existence of this group.

In the communiqué where they claim responsibility for the attack at Tec de Monterrey, ITS denounces universities in Mexico, claiming they “aim to prepare minds that don’t only want a piece of paper that credits their studies, but to graduate people who truly contribute to scientific knowledge and development of nanobiotechnology, in order to obtain what the system ultimately wants: total domination of everything which is potentially free.” They go on to say that scientists who claim to be investigating benefits for all of mankind are lying to us and that their true intentions are purely based on self-indulgence. The cherry on top is an isolated line in between paragraphs : “No matter what they say, Ted Kaczynski was right.”

I normally try to respect other ideologies, no matter how much they differ from my own. I believe that is the key to social understanding. However, as with other forms of fanaticism, you lose all respect when your methods for promoting that ideology involve harming other human beings, especially when it is so evident that you don’t have your facts straight. The data provided by the “Liberación Total” blog in different sections is biased and questionable at best. Here are some clear examples:

At one point they quote Nobel laureate Harold Kroto saying “if we turn back the clock to 1910 and avoided investigating in chemistry during the twentieth century, we would not have napalm or the atomic bomb.” This quote is taken out of context and cut in order to use Kroto’s title and present him as somebody against nanotechnology. When Kroto mentioned this he was actually making a case for nanotechnology investigation; his last statement is that without science we would “also not have computers, mobile phones or many other appliances.” In fact, according to Enriquez Cabot, Kroto’s work on nanotechnology will allow for the creation of “a molecular motor [with which] you can power machines that float (literally) on a speck of dust.”

ITS then pinpoints Tec de Monterrey University and Tec Professor Laura Palomares, “who in 2009 was recognized by the Academy of Mexican Science for using nanomaterials in developing an artificial virus which would cure certain sicknesses.” What’s wrong with this? According to ITS and their extensive scientific knowledge, “in any given moment it has been proven that this could create more sicknesses as a reaction to the substance.” Fact: today nanotechnology is being tested for (among many other medical applications) the effective drug delivery without harming healthy cells, with a very positive outlook. That is, nanotechnology could open the door to a definitive cure of cancer among many other ailments.

One last example of skewed ITS arguments: in their communiqué they quote Dr. Gary Small saying that excessive use of the internet causes “damages to the functioning of the brain and reducing personal skills to establish face to face conversations.” Once again, they fail to include the part where Small praises the digital era and mentions that thanks to the Internet we are “heightening skills like multi-tasking, complex reasoning and decision making.

If anything, Mexico’s investment in technological development and innovation is late at best. In a world where capacity to compete will be based more and more in knowledge and less on natural resources, ITS would propose abandonment of the little effort being made to catch up.

How far behind is Mexico? Ownership of knowledge and the result of research and development can easily be measured by the amount of patents registered in the U.S. and Europe Patent Offices. In 2010, the U.S. registered 107,792 patents and South Korea held 11,671. Mexico? 101. Fact: the U.S. state of North Dakota holds more patents than the whole of Mexico.

And isn’t it ironic that the only way ITS is able to effectively coordinate their attacks and link with other anarchist groups in the world, is through the use of the Internet? They mention that through the Tec bombing, their intention was to gain notoriety. In that effect, they’ve been very successful. They are now famously ridiculous.

*Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution.


Arjan Shahani is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. He lives in Monterrey, Mexico, and is an MBA graduate from Thunderbird University and Tecnológico de Monterrey and a member of the International Advisory Board of Global Majority—an international non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.

Tags: Crime and Security, Mexico, Terrorism
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