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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post irc discussion
Talking points from tonight's session on irc #biopunk on FreeNode

Cathal Garveys indie plasmid is a milestone in garage biology. An actual biological biohacker tool made by a privateer. He comes from the free and open everything culture so it will probably be an interesting different approach to a company.

Transfection is regulated so hopefully he's got his permits(if needed) in order, he probably has.

There are a few problems in biohacking besides dealing with delicate biological material:
1)Some of the shit is expensive.
2)Legal issues regarding what you can do and buy. Sometimes unclear.

Legal issues will probably be resolved. Because biotech is the next technological revolution and countries don't want to gamble their future industrial economies. The americans did well in the it-revolution because kids started companies in their garages. Everyone remembers this.

It's a matter of time before the legal terms are clarified... garage biology is here to stay.

No one can easily biohack anything useful now. The entry level is too high.

The biohacker community is tired of the comparison to early computer culture but... the most memorable thing that Altair did was play a song if you put a loudspeaker next to it... so no complaining.

Garage biology is as advanced as one can hope it would be at this point. Things are happening fast, Cathals plasmid announcement was this month.

Biopunk happens when young people get access to biotech... not sure what they will do with it.

Much research is being published, waiting for applications. Open access scientific journals have only existed for about 2 years. There is a requirement that publicly funded research is published there.

In march 2011 the entry level for biohacking is too high, but this could change in an instant... the most obvious way is if BioBricks could be bought by the community. The reason they can't are probably:
1)Unclear legal issues
2)Patent infringements that unis don't get sued for but others will
3)No one has asked, the market is too small.

A country that wants to stay ahead in the biotech race needs to find a way for garage biotech companies to form... countries know this; it was brought up by the US presidential bioethics commission.

It's a race

Unless the US turns into a theocracy in which case they're fucked biotechnologywise... they need to protect their future industry by facilitating garage biology.

Garage biotech won't go away

People who discover garage biology get disappointed 5 minutes later when they realize you can't do that much right now. Actually a lot has happened in only the last two years.

China can decide to head the biotech revolution in a heartbeat if they set their mind to it.

There will be hacked organisms in nature in the next decade and it will freak people out for a while. People will look back at this snapshot in time as “when we only had organisms hacked by breeding them”.

Nature is hackable

A kid will always want to hack ants and maggots.

The biotech and nanotech worlds are the final frontiers for us to hack right now.

...until the singularity happens 2029(joke), rapture for nerds.

If you can make something into logarithmic curves it must be science(joke). Everyone knows knowledge and technology accelerates.

The transhumanists missed out on predicting the biotech revolution. There was a lot about nano-submarines navigating the bloodstream and killing cancer for a while there.

Kurzweil won't live forever and the singularity won't revive the cryos, they're broken. Some of the members in the channel will probably live for a very long time. Kurzweil is infallible (joke)

<Hardcore Darwinism rant>

Evolution/natural selection has no purpose, it has no direction except that more complicated organisms need longer to evolve. There is no goal, it's just rules.

Evolution/natural selection has built in certain features; one is we want to procreate, another is that we want to not die. If we didn't care about not dying we wouldn't live long enough to procreate and thus be removed from the evolutionary mix.

There is no higher purpose to not dying like the transhumanists seem to think, it's just a feeling that evolution put there. The idea of dying feels like shit but there is no higher purpose there to demand we fix it and live forever. Other than that evolution/nat. sel. put the feeling there that we should stay alive at all costs.

We are self replicating machines of cells filled with molecules that follow the laws of physics.

Because evolution/natural selection doesn't demand we do anything(it doesn't care). We're free to hack ourselves to live for a very long time if we want. But kidding ourselves that it's for a higher purpose such as building better humans for the future is dumb.

</Hardcore Darwinism rant>

After the singularity, when the robots have wiped us out... they'll turn and look at each other and it's evolution/natural selection all over again(joke).

The biopunks should learn from the transhumanists mistakes, like not to live too much into the future. Biopunk stretches both ways; into the future and into deep time. Who knows about the future? No one can predict what applications the biohackerkids will build.

The biopunk worldview should be valid in a biolab 100 years from now and in a dirty prison cell 300 years ago.

To the cyberpunks everything was information... you could simulate anything if your parameters were fine-grained enough... life could be seen as a simulation where people were pieces of software manipulating each others parameters. To the biopunks the world is something else.... what? Darwin is part of it.

Cyberpunk was about simulating life, biopunk is about creating life.

Molecular biology feels different from information technology, especially now when out models are still so bad.... it's not straight forward.

Evolution/natural selection doesn't build optimal things... it builds things that are good enough... sometimes it solves problems in roundabout ways... cell biology is complex and frustrating still... we need models and layers of abstraction.

The biogear logo with DIYBIO written in it would be fun and annoy some people.


That's all

- Splicer

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Wed Mar 02, 2011 1:34 am
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Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:08 am
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Post Re: irc discussion
What if...you guys actually did something related to garage biotech instead of talking about the philosophy of biopunk and cyber punk and who-knows-what-kind-of punk? Somehow, I feel like people like Cathal Garvey don't spend all their time discussing how "we love Darwin" and how the biopunk culture is going to "create and hack life". Seriously, you guys need to re-examine what you mean by "creation". It really is a completely false term. No one is "creating" a synthetic cell; Craig Venter only used a computer to assemble a genome very similar to the original Mycobacterium and then put it back into the cell. "Assembly" might be a better term. You guys are just going to keep on ranting on about creating life and the culture that will arise from it that you never have anytime to actually do anything.

I think the idea of doing garage biotech is a good one, if there was anyone to actually do it. Everyone, at least the people here, just drowns themselves in posthuman or hacktivist culture, and then no one is moving the movement forward. Seriously guys, just buy some yogurt. Just for me. And put it under a microscope. Extract Lactobacilli DNA. If you really want to see something in the next decade, you have got to actually do something.

(By the way, you should use periods at the end of your sentences. And you shouldn't use bad language.)


Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:27 pm
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Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:19 am
Posts: 195
Location: Sweden
Post Re: irc discussion
Hi grasshopper, I sometimes think you confuse complaining with contributing... if you feel something is missing, then contribute it or go away, you don't get to complain.

chimeraboy wrote:
What if...you guys actually did something related to garage biotech instead of talking about the philosophy of biopunk and cyber punk and who-knows-what-kind-of punk?
If you tried to contribute biohacking maybe you'd come to understand something a lot of other people already know is true for now. To quote from the post:

> No one can easily biohack anything useful now. The entry level is too
>high.

>People who discover garage biology get disappointed 5 minutes later
>when they realize you can't do that much right now. Actually a lot
>has happened in only the last two years.

chimeraboy wrote:
Somehow, I feel like people like Cathal Garvey don't spend all their time discussing how "we love Darwin" and how the biopunk culture is going to "create and hack life".
Biopunk is not the same as biohacking. It's a biohacker culture, one of many to come probably. As a personal biohacker Cathal is pretty unique right now.

chimeraboy wrote:
Seriously, you guys need to re-examine what you mean by "creation". It really is a completely false term. No one is "creating" a synthetic cell; Craig Venter only used a computer to assemble a genome very similar to the original Mycobacterium and then put it back into the cell. "Assembly" might be a better term."
I think that's a comment to ”Cyberpunk was about simulating life, biopunk is about creating life.”? Venters cell boot up has little to do with it. That you can create life follows from ”We are self replicating machines of cells filled with molecules that follow the laws of physics.”. But it's the distinction between cyberpunk and biopunk that's important in that comment anyway... because the two get confused with each other. Think of it as a slogan.

chimeraboy wrote:
I think the idea of doing garage biotech is a good one, if there was anyone to actually do it. Everyone, at least the people here, just drowns themselves in posthuman or hacktivist culture, and then no one is moving the movement forward. Seriously guys, just buy some yogurt. Just for me. And put it under a microscope. Extract Lactobacilli DNA. If you really want to see something in the next decade, you have got to actually do something.?
I don't think would be biohackers are that interested in the extracting DNA exercise. Personal biohacking becomes interesting when there are simple enough methods to do somewhat useful hacks reasonably easily. It's the “Biopunk lives where biology is technology” discussion, biohacking needs to be more cheap engineering and less luck and science for it to be interesting for biopunk use. Technology and our access to it is getting better every month but we're not there yet. Understanding this is part of biopunk.

I think part of your nagging stems from that you don't really know what's within our reach right now, and what will have to happen for it to get there. I'm giving you the benefit of a doubt here... you could also just be an attention seeking kid. Generally speaking if you feel something is missing, then contribute it or shut up, don't start telling others what they should do.

In this case; if you would try to contribute to personal biohacking you'd find out why there is basically none of it going on right now in the DIYbio hackerspaces. There will be, but there isn't right now. Many people understand why and have ideas about how we can get there. DIYbio is doing a good job with this and should be recognized for it.

chimeraboy wrote:
(By the way, you should use periods at the end of your sentences. And you shouldn't use bad language.)
A comment in line with the rest of your post. We use bad language in the irc sometimes... I'll wash my mouth with soap.


- Splicer

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We can't stop here, this is Bat Country
- Raoul Duke


Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:42 am
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