Sunday, August 27, 2017

Paging M. Macron: "CIA’s Venture Capital Arm Is Funding Skin Care Products That Collect DNA"

From The Intercept, April 2016:
SKINCENTIAL SCIENCES, a company with an innovative line of cosmetic products marketed as a way to erase blemishes and soften skin, has caught the attention of beauty bloggers on YouTube, Oprah’s lifestyle magazine, and celebrity skin care professionals. Documents obtained by The Intercept reveal that the firm has also attracted interest and funding from In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The previously undisclosed relationship with the CIA might come as some surprise to a visitor to the website of Clearista, the main product line of Skincential Sciences, which boasts of a “formula so you can feel confident and beautiful in your skin’s most natural state.”

Though the public-facing side of the company touts a range of skin care products, Skincential Sciences developed a patented technology that removes a thin outer layer of the skin, revealing unique biomarkers that can be used for a variety of diagnostic tests, including DNA collection.

Skincential Science’s noninvasive procedure, described on the Clearista website as “painless,” is said to require only water, a special detergent, and a few brushes against the skin, making it a convenient option for restoring the glow of a youthful complexion — and a novel technique for gathering information about a person’s biochemistry.
In-Q-Tel, founded in 1999 by then-CIA Director George Tenet, identifies cutting-edge technology to support the mission of the CIA and other intelligence agencies, and provides venture funding to help grow tech firms to develop those solutions.

Our company is an outlier for In-Q-Tel,” Russ Lebovitz, the chief executive of Skincential Sciences, said during an interview with The Intercept. He conceded that the relationship might make for “an unusual and interesting story,” but said, “If there’s something beneath the surface, that’s not part of our relationship and I’m not directly aware. They’re interested here in something that can get easy access to biomarkers.”

Still, Lebovitz claimed he has limited knowledge of why In-Q-Tel selected his firm.

I can’t tell you how everyone works with In-Q-Tel, but they are very interested in doing things that are pure science,” Lebovitz said. The CIA fund approached his company, telling him the fund shares an interest in looking at DNA extraction using the method pioneered by Skincential Sciences, according to Lebovitz.

Beyond that, Lebovitz said he was unsure of the intent of the CIA’s use of the technology, but the fund was “specifically interested in the diagnostics, detecting DNA from normal skin.” He added, “There’s no better identifier than DNA, and we know we can pull out DNA.”
Perhaps law enforcement could use the biomarker extraction technique for crime scene identification or could conduct drug tests, Lebovitz suggested.

Carrie A. Sessine, the vice president for external affairs at In-Q-Tel, declined a media interview because “IQT does not participate in media interviews or opportunities.”...MUCH MORE
Previously on the In-Q-Tel channel:
The CIA’s Venture-Capital Firm, Like Its Sponsor, Operates in the Shadows
This is a pretty good look at the spook shop vehicle.
As a side note, back in the early years of this century, especially immediately after the mass murders of 9/11, it was thought that investing alongside In-Q-Tel was the cool thing to do.
It took a while for the realization to sink in that they weren't necessarily in it for the money return to the VC's....
Quantum Computing: CIA and Bezos Invest in D-Wave Systems In.
"Hedge funds, VCs and the CIA are Throwing Money at ex-Bridgewater Data Scientists’ Startup"  
Peter Thiel’s Pursuit Of Technological Progress; It’s Not About Democracy and It’s Definitely Not About Capitalism – Part 1
Inside Palantir, Silicon Valley’s Most Secretive Company
"Pokémon Go Is a Government Surveillance Psyop Conspiracy"
Amazon and the CIA Want to Teach Artificial Intelligence to Watch Us From Space (AMZN; NVDA) 
Venture Capital: "Tech Companies And Their Love Affair With NSA and CIA" (GOOG)

And perhaps most alarming of all:
Robot Writing Moves from Journalism to Wall Street

The level of alarm is of course directly related to one's perspective.