Part of human practices is to consider the effect on the future of synthetic biology and the implications of that effect. We decided to have a 'future applications workshop' to discuss, argue, and query the possible outcomes related to our project of biological parts communicating through light as well as inserting DNA markerlessly.
During the workshop we discussed the possibility of iGEM closing and the effect that would have, in particular, to the work we have been doing. We also looked into the future of the open sourcing / privatisation debate.
Below are some illustrations of potential applications at various points of time in the future. Illustrations by Robbie Henderson.
Bacterial Eye, you don't know when other manufacturing resources will be available.
Glowing Body Paint, for replacing bulky high-vis clothing (building sites/ cycling) or just for aesthetics.
Envirotest, mass testing of enviroments using light-emitting, 'reactive' bacteria. In other words a 'sensorweb' (see Bruce Sterling).
Although the workshop became a little messy at times it was very successful at producing a lot of ideas, consequences and debate around the potential of our project and the consequences of that potential. The discussion that ensued around logistical possibilities, safety issues and ethics was very valuable in getting the team to think beyond the lab and analyse how they felt about these issues.