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The Living Web On the Governance of Biomics

The Living Web On the Governance of Biomics

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The Living Web On the Governance of Biomics

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  1. The Living WebOn the Governance of Biomics Jos de Mul , Erasmus University Rotterdam

  2. Why biomics & Internet? • Biomics: genomics, proteomics, epigenomics, mentomics, bio-informatics, AL&AI, synthetic biology 1 Presence on the Internet: • Information about biomics • Discussions about biomics • Huge biomic databases on the Internet 2 Interesting parallels: • Commercial vs ‘open source’ • Digital / genetic divide • Security & safety issues 3 Transformation of the Internet: • Biomic software • The Internet of Living Things • From Web 2.0 to Web 3.0

  3. Overview • The convergence of biology and i-sciences • Mechanistic & informationistic sciences • Governance issues for biomics • Governance of the unknow: from risk to uncertainty

  4. 1 The convergence of biology and i-science

  5. Overlap of biology and i-science • 1953: adequate description of dna • Biology (Genetics): • Theoretical: how is information coded and transmitted? • Practical: decoding 3 billion nucleotids • Information science (AL&AI): • Theoretical: what is life? • Practical: how to create life? • Emerging hybrids: • Genomics, proteomics, epigenomics, bio-informatics, computational biology, synthetic biology • Genetic algorithms, cellular automata, emergent systems, neural networks, molecular computers

  6. The age of BioTech • 20th century: Age of Physics • Automobile, airplane, telephone, television, nuclear power, computer • 21st century: Age of BioTech • Measured by size of research budgets, number of scientists and impact already bigger than physics

  7. 2 Mechanistic & informationistic sciences

  8. Mechanistic Informationistic Postulates: • Analizability • Lawfulness • Controllability Postulates: • Synthesizability • Programmability • Manipulability e.g. pV/T=constant e.g. Conway’s ‘Life’

  9. Ad 1Synthesizability in biomics • From atoms to living molecules • Self-organization • Emergent phenomena (inanimate nature, living nature, consciousness nature) Neither ‘greedy reductionism’ nor ‘greedy transcendentalism’

  10. Ad 2 Programmability in biomics • Explaning a phenomenon is being able to program it (from soft to hard AL) • BioSPICE: simulation of life • From in silico via in vitro to in vivo • Minimal cells, metabolic pathway engineering. ABCD of ‘database ontology’: Add, Brows, Create, Delete

  11. Ad 3 Manipulability in biomics • Not controlling nature by playing according the rules, but changing and creating the rules. • Synthetic biology: BioBricks, Bio-JADE • xDNA (alien genetics) i-sciences are modal sciences: not aiming at how reality is, but how it could be

  12. 3 Governance issues for biomics

  13. Freeman Dyson: Our Biotech Future (2007) • Biomic food & fuel • From gray to green technology • Many new species of plants & animals (black silicon leaves) • Environmental friendly • New global flowering of the countryside • Open source (horizontal gene transfer) vs private ownership (species)

  14. Reasonable doubts • Biodiversity or monoculture? • Yulex Corp.: modified microbes • Local production or ‘bug sweatshops’? • Artemisia • Personal dna-printer or ‘mainframe’ genetic engineering? • $1000 DNA synthesizer + online BioBricks • 2002: polio virus (EckhardWimmer’s ‘wake up call’) • 2005: Spanish flue (US Armed Forces Institute) • Peaceful world ‘militarization of biology? • Bio-hacking, bio-terror • Computer virus no longer a metaphor

  15. 4 Governance of the unknow: from risk to uncertainty

  16. From risk to uncertainty • Technologies produce both controls and risk • Unforseen & unforseeable side effects due human • Human finitude • Chaotic systems (sensitive dependence on initial conditions • In BioTech intentional systems, mutations & complex interactions and feed mechanisms • From Biotech to Biotech • Latour’sacors really start to act • Gray to goo and green goo

  17. The face of the unknown 1/2 • Laws & regulations • Precautionary principle • Cogem 2008: Biological machines: Anticipating Developments in Genetic Biology • 1+2 sufficient • However: in biomics extreme interpretative flexibility and unpredictability

  18. The face of the unknown 2/2 • WRR 2008: Uncertain safety • From ‘risk society’ to ‘uncertainty life’ • “Need for early detection of uncertainties” Isn’t that hubris? • “Playing God is indeed playing with fire. But that is what we mortals have done since Prometheus, the patron saint of dangerous discoveries. We play with fire and take the consequences, because the alternative is cowardice in the face of the unknown” (Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue, 2000, 446).