SXSW INTERACTIVE 2015
The cost of doing scientific research is diminishing.
We’re seeing the rise of street biology. There’s new
access, platforms and tools allowing more consumers,
even in their garages, to be involved in scientific
research and biology. In the future it won't be just
Pfizer that invents new things. It’s a two-way
conversation though. While science is being
demystified, these startups can also learn from
ITO LED A PANEL THAT EXPLORED
THE ADVANCEMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY
EDUCATION THROUGH ENTRY-LEVEL
TECHNOLOGIES, SUCH AS RAPID DNA
PROTOTYPING (RDP) KITS, #SCIENCEHACKS,
THE SYNBIOTA PLATFORM AND CITIZEN
SCIENCE INITIATIVES IN SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY.
ON THE DEBATE ABOUT THE
HUMAN/NATURE AND TECHNOLOGY BLUR:
Thirty years ago Time magazine ran a cover about the
first test tube babies. Now IVF is covered by medical
insurance. It’s interesting to look at what we think is
ok now, and how that will change. Our kids today won’t
remember a world without smartphones, and
therefore probably won't fret about their children
using the internet. It’s a moving target.
Art and design are leading exploration in this area in a
non-threatening way. The Museum of Modern Art has
exhibited leather jackets made of grown stem cells.
We’ve also had pieces explore bioluminescence.
In general innovation is being democratized. We’re
seeing it occur in workshops from East Detroit to
Nairobi. One interesting development I’m seeing is
contextual innovation. In different parts of Kenya, if you
can’t repair it locally it doesn’t work. Hence you have
lots of devices being designed around materials you
could find in a junkyard. Every region of the world is
fundamentally different. These innovators are
leveraging the peculiarities of each area. But this can
grow globally. Take Spotify. This launched in Sweden,
outside of the U.S., because of the U.S.’ copyright laws.
But now, because it’s thrived so much, it’s big enough to
expand to the U.S.
The most exciting thing to me was the reaction to all
this change at SXSW Interactive 2015. Not only was
there a vast range of inspiring content. People seemed
genuinely receptive and engaged in these new ideas. I
look forward to next year, when this gets built on even
ON THE RISE OF
THE CITIZEN SCIENTIST:
As a society we’re increasingly multi-disciplinary.
No discipline exists in a silo. This is also being fueled
by citizen sicentists who don’t care about silos.
There’s a structural overhead on experimenting that
doesn’t make sense. The cost to set up a lab meeting
all regulations is still very high. But now, there are
processes available that allow consumers to conduct
tests in their own home.