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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • It's a great time to be a molecular biologist. (Laughter)

  • Reading and writing DNA code is getting easier

  • and cheaper.

  • By the end of this year, we'll be able to sequence

  • the three million bits of information

  • in your genome in less than a day

  • and for less than 1,000 euros.

  • Biotech is probably the most powerful

  • and the fastest-growing technology sector.

  • It has the power, potentially,

  • to replace our fossil fuels,

  • to revolutionize medicine,

  • and to touch every aspect of our daily lives.

  • So who gets to do it?

  • I think we'd all be pretty comfortable with

  • this guy doing it.

  • But what about

  • that guy? (Laughter)

  • (Laughter)

  • In 2009, I first heard about DIYbio.

  • It's a movement that -- it advocates making biotechnology

  • accessible to everyone,

  • not just scientists and people in government labs.

  • The idea is that if you open up the science

  • and you allow diverse groups to participate,

  • it could really stimulate innovation.

  • Putting technology in the hands of the end user

  • is usually a good idea because they've got the best idea

  • of what their needs are.

  • And here's this really sophisticated technology

  • coming down the road, all these associated

  • social, moral, ethical questions,

  • and we scientists are just lousy at explaining to the public

  • just exactly what it is we're doing in those labs.

  • So wouldn't it be nice

  • if there was a place in your local neighborhood

  • where you could go and learn about this stuff,

  • do it hands-on?

  • I thought so.

  • So, three years ago, I got together

  • with some friends of mine who had similar aspirations

  • and we founded Genspace.

  • It's a nonprofit, a community biotech lab

  • in Brooklyn, New York,

  • and the idea was people could come,

  • they could take classes and putter around in the lab

  • in a very open, friendly atmosphere.

  • None of my previous experience prepared me

  • for what came next. Can you guess?

  • The press started calling us.

  • And the more we talked about how great it was to increase

  • science literacy, the more they wanted to talk

  • about us creating the next Frankenstein,

  • and as a result, for the next six months,

  • when you Googled my name,

  • instead of getting my scientific papers, you got this.

  • ["Am I a biohazard?"]

  • (Laughter)

  • It was pretty depressing.

  • The only thing that got us through that period

  • was that we knew that all over the world,

  • there were other people that were trying to do

  • the same thing that we were.

  • They were opening biohacker spaces, and some of them

  • were facing much greater challenges than we did,

  • more regulations, less resources.

  • But now, three years later, here's where we stand.

  • It's a vibrant, global community of hackerspaces,

  • and this is just the beginning.

  • These are some of the biggest ones,

  • and there are others opening every day.

  • There's one probably going to open up in Moscow,

  • one in South Korea,

  • and the cool thing is they each have their own

  • individual flavor

  • that grew out of the community they came out of.

  • Let me take you on a little tour.

  • Biohackers work alone.

  • We work in groups,

  • in big cities — (Laughter) —

  • and in small villages.

  • We reverse engineer lab equipment.

  • We genetically engineer bacteria.

  • We hack hardware,

  • software,

  • wetware,

  • and, of course, the code of life.

  • We like to build things.

  • Then we like to take things apart.

  • We make things grow.

  • We make things glow.

  • And we make cells dance.

  • The spirit of these labs, it's open, it's positive,

  • but, you know, sometimes when people think of us,

  • the first thing that comes to mind is bio-safety,

  • bio-security, all the dark side stuff.

  • I'm not going to minimize those concerns.

  • Any powerful technology is inherently dual use,

  • and, you know, you get something like

  • synthetic biology, nanobiotechnology,

  • it really compels you, you have to look at both

  • the amateur groups but also the professional groups,

  • because they have better infrastructure,

  • they have better facilities,

  • and they have access to pathogens.

  • So the United Nations did just that, and they recently

  • issued a report on this whole area,

  • and what they concluded was the power of this technology

  • for positive was much greater than the risk for negative,

  • and they even looked specifically at the DIYbio community,

  • and they noted, not surprisingly, that the press

  • had a tendency to consistently overestimate our capabilities

  • and underestimate our ethics.

  • As a matter of fact, DIY people from all over the world,

  • America, Europe, got together last year,

  • and we hammered out a common code of ethics.

  • That's a lot more than conventional science has done.

  • Now, we follow state and local regulations.

  • We dispose of our waste properly, we follow

  • safety procedures, we don't work with pathogens.

  • You know, if you're working with a pathogen,

  • you're not part of the biohacker community,

  • you're part of the bioterrorist community, I'm sorry.

  • And sometimes people ask me,

  • "Well, what about an accident?"

  • Well, working with the safe organisms that we normally

  • work with, the chance of an accident happening

  • with somebody accidentally creating, like,

  • some sort of superbug,

  • that's literally about as probable as a snowstorm

  • in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

  • Now, it could happen,

  • but I'm not going to plan my life around it.

  • I've actually chosen to take a different kind of risk.

  • I signed up for something called the Personal Genome Project.

  • It's a study at Harvard where, at the end of the study,

  • they're going to take my entire genomic sequence,

  • all of my medical information, and my identity,

  • and they're going to post it online for everyone to see.

  • There were a lot of risks involved that they talked about

  • during the informed consent portion.

  • The one I liked the best is,

  • someone could download my sequence, go back to the lab,

  • synthesize some fake Ellen DNA,

  • and plant it at a crime scene. (Laughter)

  • But like DIYbio, the positive outcomes and

  • the potential for good for a study like that

  • far outweighs the risk.

  • Now, you might be asking yourself,

  • "Well, you know, what would I do in a biolab?"

  • Well, it wasn't that long ago we were asking, "Well,

  • what would anyone do with a personal computer?"

  • So this stuff is just beginning.

  • We're only seeing just the tip of the DNA iceberg.

  • Let me show you what you could do right now.

  • A biohacker in Germany, a journalist, wanted to know

  • whose dog was leaving little presents on his street?

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • Yep, you guessed it. He threw tennis balls

  • to all the neighborhood dogs, analyzed the saliva,

  • identified the dog, and confronted the dog owner.

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • I discovered an invasive species in my own backyard.

  • Looked like a ladybug, right?

  • It actually is a Japanese beetle.

  • And the same kind of technology --

  • it's called DNA barcoding, it's really cool --

  • You can use it to check if your caviar is really beluga,

  • if that sushi is really tuna, or if that goat cheese

  • that you paid so much for is really goat's.

  • In a biohacker space, you can analyze your genome

  • for mutations.

  • You can analyze your breakfast cereal for GMO's,

  • and you can explore your ancestry.

  • You can send weather balloons up into the stratosphere,

  • collect microbes, see what's up there.

  • You can make a biocensor out of yeast

  • to detect pollutants in water.

  • You can make some sort of a biofuel cell.

  • You can do a lot of things.

  • You can also do an art science project. Some of these

  • are really spectacular, and they look at social,

  • ecological problems from a completely different perspective.

  • It's really cool.

  • Some people ask me, well, why am I involved?

  • I could have a perfectly good career in mainstream science.

  • The thing is, there's something in these labs

  • that they have to offer society that you can't find

  • anywhere else.

  • There's something sacred about a space where

  • you can work on a project, and you don't have to justify

  • to anyone that it's going to make a lot of money,

  • that it's going to save mankind, or even that it's feasible.

  • It just has to follow safety guidelines.

  • If you had spaces like this all over the world,

  • it could really change the perception

  • of who's allowed to do biotech.

  • It's spaces like these that spawned personal computing.

  • Why not personal biotech?

  • If everyone in this room got involved,

  • who knows what we could do?

  • This is such a new area, and as we say back in Brooklyn,

  • you ain't seen nothin' yet. (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Morton Bast

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B1 TED biotech laughter technology dna lab

【TED】Ellen Jorgensen: Biohacking -- you can do it, too (Ellen Jorgensen: Biohacking -- you can do it, too)

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    BH posted on 2017/05/21
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