Bio-Robotic Convergence

Reckon you make a robot as good as this?


Make a list of all the things it can do, starting with : self-replicate using raw-materials that it’s hunted and caught itself, using a sticky thread that is stronger than steel.



miracles of engineering.

I think it’s pretty clear that the fastest way to come even close to the engineering skills of about 3.5 billion years of natural-selection, is to simply hijack the brains of stuff that’s already been made. I think the Big News in tech development is (in the long run) probably going to be bio/robotic convergence. Assuming this doesn’t get eclipsed by some strand of chemo-spiritualism, or the world ending.

So – apropos of that:

1) Cancer-Detecting Fruitflies that glow in the dark


Fruitflies are capable of detecting single molecules apparently… and can be genetically tweaked to “light up” when they do.

Now fruitflies are a hassle. Believe me, I know – it’s hard to imagine that this might not be better achieved with microbial fluid, or even just a machine – but for something with sensors etc already set up… this is impressive – and if you can do it with cancer, you can probably do it with anything else as well.

2) Microbots powered by heart-cells


Similar principle to hydrogel biobots… also using heart muscle cells – for this to work though, the cells need to ‘live’ in an environment that supports them – ie: they’ll need vascular systems to supply nutrients. These things are fairly big – 7mm long.

Another approach is to persuade sperm to get their heads stuck in specially designed tubes, then control their orientation with magnets

Although I suspect if you can do that, you could just control the motion with magnets as well. You can do anything with magnets – especially now that monopole magnets have been invented.

3) Feeling added to bionic hands

Which is really about direct interface between machine and bio nervous-systems. Between hardware and wetware.

4) You can buy glow in the dark plants


And if you missed the point, the front page of the website is a picture of the plant, with a button saying “I Want One”. Quite interesting though in a funny sort of way. They’re auctioning them on ebay – prices currently at hundreds of dollars a go. Ebay were engaging in some sort of geo-censoring spaz-chariotry, so here’s a screengrab.


Which will completely screw up the alignment etc of my new web-sty design.

An auction hmmm? (strokes beard) – I’m guessing they’ve got the same dilemma that NZ had with Kiwifruit – how to make as much money as possible before people start growing their own. That’s the thing with bio-stuff. It self-grows, and intellectual property is for creeps and cretins, so they’re milking it some other way. It’s only a matter of time before this stuff gets everywhere I suspect – especially if you can do with plants what the people were doing with the fruit-flies earlier.

5) First Genetically Modified Babies Born

Containing genes from 3 parents, and why not?

Apparently there are “ethics” to consider, but fuck ethics. What that means in this context are “religious people”, and historically (or currently in fact), they’re the LAST people you should listen to on matters of morality. The new pope isn’t bad though. Or less worse… than any pope that there’s been since the dawn of popes… since the first pope doffed the first pope hat.

Anyway, what matters is the reduction of suffering, and harm (which includes loss of bio-diversity).

Speaking of which,

6) A Chinese company is cloning pigs at the rate of 500 a year – which is (apparently) a lot.


They’re being used to test medicines – which I’m mildly dubious about. They’ve got 5 times the gene-sequencing power of Europe’s biggest gene-sequencing institution.

I ask Wang Jun how he chooses what to sequence. After the shock of hearing the phrase “cloning factory”, out comes another bombshell:

“If it tastes good you should sequence it,” he tells me. “You should know what’s in the genes of that species.”

Species that taste good is one criterion. Another he cites is that of industrial use – raising yields, for example, or benefits for healthcare.

“A third category is if it looks cute – anything that looks cute: panda, polar bear, penguin, you should really sequence it – it’s like digitalising all the wonderful species,” he explains.

So where are your ethics now? Swept away by the deluge I’d say.

7) Elsewhere...


Although that article is from The Daily Mail, who are bullshitters.

8 ) 3D Bioprinting

Currently used to create living micro-environments for testing drugs – and with the usual associated hand-wringing about “ethics” again… tell that to the person who will die without the 3D printed liver, they’re aiming to be able to create this year.

Gartner (who produced the report) also estimates that 3D printing will result in the loss of $100bn in “IP” in the next 4 years. Or to put it another way, 3D printing will prevent the transfer of $100bn from people to corporations.

This is a good thing – the pie in the sky best result it could achieve would be to destroy information monopolies as being a way to fund research… and to destroy the corporations that rely on this type of unearned income to fund themselves, and lobby for fascist crap like the TPPA.

Ceterum censeo, coporate potestatem esse delendam

2 Comments » for Bio-Robotic Convergence
  1. roid says:

    on an unrelated note, did you know that your new archive page loads it’s entire 48.74 Megabytes (all those thumbnails i guess) all in one go?

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    Hum… so it does. I guess that’s quite a lot of thumbnails, which aren’t really thumbnails, but artificially shrunk larger images. Will fix.