Tagbiohacking

A tipping point for bio

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Bio hacking lab at Share Conf 2013

It’s both my job and a great pleasure to be looking out for signals that point to something fundamentally new and interesting. Something that might be driven by a technology (or a combination of technologies) that will have a massive impact on the way we live – or at least offers that opportunity.

Over the last ten years, just to name a few, these mega trends (or tectonic shifts) include the whole way we connect more deeply online through what today is called Social Media and a normal part of our everyday lives; the way these connections started following us around more seamlessly through the mobile web; the way manufacturing and “reproduceability” changed through 3D printing and the fabbing movement; how the physical world joined us online in the Internet of Things, turning our physical environment more responsive.

Let’s look at all things bio

But for a couple of years now, there have been more and more signals – weak and odd and quirky at first, but quickly gaining strength – around biology: bio synthesis, DIY bio hacking and the like.

Just like 3D printing before, this all very much happens in the space of atoms – or of the organic – but with the thinking of the web overlaid. A combination of atoms & bits in the most literal way. And much like what later became known as Social Media started out with a myriad of competing terminologies (ubicomp, social computing, web 2.0…), I don’t think that the final terminology has yet emerged, making it somewhat harder to follow the many parallel discussions around bio/organic hacking in a structured way.

This phase of competing ideas and terminologies is usually a good sign that something is interesting enough that stakeholders from different angles are feeling out the same area, trying to figure out what’s going on there and where to take it. It’s when stuff is at Peak Interesting, long before the real impact becomes tangible. And no doubt, this area will have massive, profound impact on society, business, medical, industry. And no doubt this impact will come in many unexpected ways.

Tipping point

We’ve been talking about this for a while, and just a little while back I remember mentioning that the the signals are still just a little bit too scattered for me to fully engage. Not quite there yet, for the way I operate. But just now, this recent brief blog post over on O’Reilly Radar about the BioFabricate Summit kind of put me over the edge. I mentally mark this as a personal tipping point for the signal-to-noise ratio that triggers my dig-deeper impulse.

So I’ll be reading up on bio fabrication, bio hacking, bio synthesis. If I find enough interesting stimulus, the next step for me will be to think about a new conference around the issue: I still find it the best way to dive in and get all the players together.

If you’re aware of interesting stuff happening around this, particularly in Europe, please do share. Thanks!

Recent reading (7 links for Feb 5)

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San Telmo street art

Irregularly, I post noteworthy articles I recently read. Enjoy!

 

Kickstarting: A Wi-Fi-Enabled Lamp That Lets You Say Goodnight Across The Globe: FastCo’s take on the Good Night Lamp, a series of connected lamps that helps you send social signals in more ambient way. I’m a big fan of both the product and the team, so I recommend you have a closer look. (Just noticed I first blogged about this in 2007. Time flies!) (link);

 

Top 10 Lessons Learned at Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Biohacking Conference: A report from the front line of the biohacking and quantified self community. (link)

 

Shooters: How Video Games Fund Arms Manufacturers: How video games, through licensing fees, help funding arms producers. A very scary thought. – by Simon Parkin (link)

 

The World is Getting Better. Quickly.: On a more uplifting note, turns out that overall we’re making quite good progress on a global scale towards bettering life conditions for everyone. Some highlights from Bill Gates’ report on the progress of his foundation and their goals. (link)

 

Dell goes private in $24.4 billion deal, including $2 billion loan from Microsoft: Dell buys back the company shares, ridding itself of the pressure of quarterly earnings reports to shareholders. Impressive, and also something that can serve us as a reminder to always keep thinking about incentives we create for ourselves and our companies. – by Nathan Ingraham (link)

 

Q: “How much does an app cost?” A: “About as much as a car.”: Neat metaphor-slash-guideline: How much does an app cost? It costs about as much as a car does, it just depends on what you want. “I just want an app and I want it to work” = 1994 Honda Civic = $1-5K. You just want a simple app. Nothing fancy, and you don’t really care who works on it. (link)

 

EU-Flaggschiff-Initiative: Forscher erhalten Milliardenförderung: Quick overview of the projects that got the EU’s 1b Euro funding for scientific research. How awesome are the two projects that won? Very. How awesome are the ones that didn’t get the funding? Also: very. I’m all for institutional funding of science. (link)