Meredith L. Patterson (maradydd) wrote,
Meredith L. Patterson

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Synthetic biology is coming; open your mouth

It is pretty important to read this Atlantic piece on synthetic biology in light of the research of Ester Boserup. (The Conditions of Agricultural Growth is not all that long and the clarity of her writing is up there with Bertrand Russell.)

When cultivable land is "squeezed," as the Atlantic puts it, that is a constraint on agricultural conditions. But population will continue to determine agricultural methods -- ours, and our soil symbiotes', and our crops' predators', and our (tiny, tiny) predators'. Eating and fucking are the two primary drivers of technology, and at least we have something resembling a historical record on the how-dead-things-become-eating part.

I'll waffle by a decimal order of magnitude plus or minus and say the hub-and-spoke model of food distribution is responsible for an ecological shift about on par with the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Need to dig into Lord May to get a better grounding in that. I'm too close to the problem, still, for now, to be able to think coherently about the attendant parallel shifts in power structures that necessarily accompany the discovery and colonisation of a new resource, but maybe that's for someone else to think about.

What I do know, though, is that the Atlantic is right. The boulders are voting about how to start the avalanche. If the pebbles want some role in its direction, the time to get rolling is now.
Tags: biohacking, economics, science!

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