Tales from the Crick: Experiences and Services When Design Fiction Meets Synthetic Biology


Design Fictions as a Speculative Tool to Widen the Understanding of Technology

The primary purpose of this chapter is to propose a role of design as a tool for investigation, used as a speculative means to materialize tales of possible futures. The scenarios that will be taken into consideration are founded on two premises: first, slowly but constantly we are moving from an overconsumption-driven society to a service access-driven one; second, the progress in the field of synthetic biology (a brand new genetic engineering) resembles the historical path of digital and electronic technologies from the 1970s, where only technical experts were allowed to intervene.[]

Design is going to be used as a tool to break this barrier and bridge the gap between science, technology, and society at large. Using real scientific achievements as a starting point, we can think about synthetic biology not as an abstraction but in fictional scenarios relevant to our day-to-day experiences. Putting the issues in real context, we can materialize an aesthetic of these new possibilities, understand them, and discuss the ethical landscape. These technologies have the power to entirely change industries and industrial procedures.

Furthermore, what if these technologies were part of our daily lives? What if we could actually generate and grow our genetically modified object at home as easily as it is possible to print 3D objects today? The economic and social structures would change dramatically when synthetic biology will be woven into the fabric of everyday life. What role would money and intellectual property play in a world of “living things”? With such fragmented and homemade product generation, what would be the role of brands?

The scenarios that will be presented in this chapter will not only contemplate the direct manifestations of synthetic biological (or, synbio) objects, but will also ponder their side effects produced along the way.

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