A Biopunk Manifesto

From last year’s Outlaw Biology? Conference at UCLA, hacker Meredith Patterson on a manifesto for the biopunk movement:

The prevalence of citizen science has fallen. Who are the twentieth-century equivalents of Benjamin Franklin, Edward Jenner, Marie Curie or Thomas Edison? Perhaps Steve Wozniak, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard [etc.] — but the scope of their work is far narrower than that of the natural philosophers who preceded them. Citizen science has suffered from a troubling decline in diversity, and it is this diversity that biohackers seek to reclaim.

We reject the popular perception that science is only done in million-dollar university, government, or corporate labs; we assert that the right of freedom of inquiry, to do research and pursue understanding under one’s own direction, is as fundamental a right as that of free speech or freedom of religion.

A Biopunk Manifesto by Meredith Patterson from SMA on Vimeo.

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  • Bob

    Fucking awesome idea. Only catch though is you need a dedicated group of friends a shitload amount of free time and err.. since you WILL be hacking into your own flesh hence “bio-hacking” you need to be ready to die!

  • Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness

    Despite current historical trends, science is and for ever will be an anarchist methodology. The high priests might control the churches, but God doesn’t live there.

    • Anarchy Pony

      The argument of Arkady Bogdanov in Red Mars. Power, however, is always seeking to co-opt the potential of anything that may undermine it.

  • Hadrian999

    My only problem with “citizen science” is that you may run into poorly trained enthusiasts who don’t take the necessary precautions when dealing with biological material. Look what Curie did to herself

    • Anarchy Pony

      I wouldn’t really care if they did something stupid to themselves, it’s when they are a risk to others or the local biosphere that I start worrying.

      • Hadrian999

        that’s my point in the old days you couldn’t do too much damage beyond irradiating poisoning, or exploding your immediate vicinity, now you can really cause big havoc.

    • http://twitter.com/maradydd Meredith L Patterson

      Bear in mind that when Curie was doing her work, no one knew what safety measures were necessary when working with radioisotopes. Today, lab safety standards are not only well established, but easy to find on the web.

      I’ve noticed that in the DIYbio community, attention to safety is actually something of a class marker.

      • Hadrian999

        Biological manipulation is one area I think barriers to entry are a good thing. Most could be competent and conscientious but all it takes is a few sloppy amateurs to cause big problems.

  • DeepCough

    Sometimes, in order to get a new scientific breakthrough, you need to put a mad scientist on the job.