An Internet of Beings: Synthetic Biology and the Age of Biological Computing

Part of the Public Administration and Information Technology book series (PAIT, volume 17)

Abstract

The futures of the Internet are uncertain. We are living in a time that will be remembered as the great biotech boom, when biology and technology finally and completely merged into one and synthetic life became indistinguishable from natural life. DNA, the building block of life, can be programmed on a computer by virtually anyone. Technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid pace, yet limits to our growth are everywhere. We face shortages of energy, food, water, social goodwill, and political equality. These challenges may serve to undermine any efforts towards technological salvation. Either way, synthetic biology and emerging biotechnologies have arrived, and they will have a significant impact on our lives and our collective future(s). The Internet currently plays a central role in the production of synthetic life forms by providing the platform for global collaboration—the capacity to literally transport life through space via strands of DNA code. Whether the proliferation of synthetic organisms is a force for good, increasing our quality of life, or yet another techno-optimistic distraction from truly pressing issues, like climate change, food security, water security, and species extinction, is a question for historians of the future.

Keywords

Synthetic biology Biotechnology Alternative futures Genetic engineering 

References

  1. Anderson W (1987) To govern evolution: further adventures of the political animal. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett J (2009) Vibrant matter: a political ecology of things. Duke University Press, DurhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Berry T (1999) The great work: our way into the future. Bell Tower, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  4. Connolly WE (2013) The fragility of things: self-organizing processes, neoliberal fantasies, and democratic activism. Duke University Press, DurhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dator J (2004) 13 Assuming “responsibility for our rose.” Environmental values in a globalizing world: nature, justice and governance, 215Google Scholar
  6. Dator J (2009) Alternative futures at the Manoa School. J Future Stud 14(2):1–18Google Scholar
  7. Descartes R (1999) Discourse on method and meditations on first philosophy (Cress DA, Trans), 4th edn. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis, INGoogle Scholar
  8. Descola P (2013) The ecology of others (Godbout G, Luley BP, Trans). Prickly Paradigm Press, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
  9. Directorate-General for Research, European Commission (2005) Synthetic biology: applying engineering to biology. Report of a NEST high-level expert group. EUR report 21796. European Commission, Brussels, http://www.bsse.ethz.ch/bpl/publications/nestreport.pdfGoogle Scholar
  10. Dyson GB (2012) Darwin among the machines: the evolution of global intelligence, 2nd edn. Basic Books, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  11. European Commission (2014) Opinion on synthetic biology I., http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/emerging/docs/scenihr_o_044.pdfGoogle Scholar
  12. Kohn E (2013) How forests think: toward an anthropology beyond the human. University of California Press, Oakland, CACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kolbert E (2014) The sixth extinction: an unnatural history, 1st edn. Henry Holt and Co., New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  14. Latour B (2004) Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy (Porter C, Trans). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  15. Latour B (2012) We have never been modern. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  16. Singer P (2000) A darwinian left: politics, evolution, and cooperation. Yale University Press, New Haven, CTGoogle Scholar
  17. Stein R (2012) Finally, a map of all the microbes on your body., http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/06/13/154913334/finally-a-map-of-all-the-microbes-on-your-bodyGoogle Scholar
  18. Stiegler B (2012) Relational ecology and the digital pharmakon. Cult Mach 13:1–19Google Scholar
  19. Synberc (n.d.) What is synthetic biology? http://www.synberc.org/what-is-synbioGoogle Scholar
  20. Thacker E (2004) Biomedia. University of Minnesota Press, MinneapolisGoogle Scholar
  21. Transcriptic (2015) Welcome to the future. https://www.transcriptic.com/product/Google Scholar
  22. Viveiros de Castro E (1998) Cosmological deixis and Amerindian perspectivism. J R Anthropol Inst 4(3):469. doi:10.2307/3034157 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Viveiros de Castro E (2012) Cosmologies: perspectivism. HAU: masterclass series, 1. http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/masterclass/article/view/106/134Google Scholar
  24. Wilson Center (2013) Tracking the growth of synthetic biology: findings for 2013. The Wilson Center, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hawaii Research Center for Futures StudiesHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations