Vignette 2: DIY Biology Concerns

Brookings Institute:

Do-it-yourself biology shows safety risks of an open innovation movement

Bart Kolodziejczyk Monday, October 9, 2017

Pioneered by Carlson, this so-called do-it-yourself biology, or DIYbio, is a rapidly growing socio-technological movement in which citizen scientists, biohackers, and other individuals come together to study the life sciences by applying similar scientific methods used by professional scientists. This DIYbio movement encourages openness in science, and practitioners can find many protocols and instructions online that can then be easily applied or adapted for new projects.  In 2010, the first official biohacker spaces opened across the U.S. and Canada. These spaces attracted like-minded individuals – who were willing to share or learn new skills – to reprogram or alter genetic code. Today in the U.S. there are over 50 DIYbio spaces with nearly 30,000 enthusiasts, followers, biohackers and citizen scientists working together to share their innovative life science solutions. The Canadian DIYbio ecosystem has around 12 active biohacker spaces with over 2,500 members. Meanwhile, there are around 60 DIYbio groups spread around Europe, nine groups in Oceania, 22 in Asia, 16 in Latin America, and a few in Africa.


EBICS has biobot kits that it makes available to high schools in order to teach the new generation about biological robots.  

Questions:

  1. What kind of dangers or opportunities do you think that making biological robot kits available to the general public could create? 
  2. What kind of restrictions, if any, should EBICS put in place?  
  3. What would your recommended guidelines be for the use of biobot kits by the general public?