One of the talks at the paraflows.7 REVERSE ENGINEERING conference in Vienna, Austria (14-16. September 2012) deals with the implications of amateur biology.
Biohacking and its societal ramifications
Markus Schmidt, 14.9.2012, 16:30, Room D, Quartier 21, Electric Avenue, Museums Quartier.
Abstract: Synthetic biology is the attempt to apply engineering principles to biology. Motivated by Richard Feynman’s last words „What I cannot build I do not understand“, synthetic biologists want to go beyond description and analysis and really construct living systems. Given the complexity of living systems, however, this is no easy task. In order to reduce the complexity and make biology easier to engineer, the development of a toolbox for the modular design of biological systems is high on the agenda. If successful, “de-skilling” might finally unleash the full potential of biotechnology and spark a wave of innovation, as more and more people would have the necessary skills to engineer biology. A number of “biohackers”, “Do-it-yourself-biologists” and “amateur biologist” have started to take biotechnology out of the lab and into kitchens, garages and community centres. The ramifications of this development involve economic (patents vs. open access), socio-political (democratisation of biotech), environmental and safety issues, that will be discussed in this presentation.