Ricardo Dominguez ::: Biography

NANO-FEST DESTINY 3.0:
FRAGMENTS FROM THE POST-BIOTECH ERA

"In the game of life and evolution there are three players at the table: human beings, nature, and machines. I am firmly on the side of nature. But nature, I suspect, is on the side of the machines."
George Dyson, Darwin Among the Machines, 1997

MNT ("Molecular Nanotechnology") device designs should incorporate provisions for built-in safety mechanisms, such as: 1) absolute dependence on a single artificial fuel source or artificial "vitamins" that don't exist in any natural environment; 2) making devices that are dependent on broadcast transmissions for replication or in some cases operation; 3) routing control signal paths through out a device, so that subassemblies do not function independently; 4) programming termination dates into devices, and 5) other innovations in laboratory or device safety technology developed specifically to address the potential dangers of MNT.
Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology, (Revised Draft Version 3.7: June 4, 2000).

Recombinant society falls quickly before nano-fest destiny. Biotechnology, like digital networks, becomes a side event before the next state of command and control society. Each of us will rapidly become the by product of artificial Molecular Nanotechnology "vitamins," interdependent molecular subassembly engines, and inter-linked "termination dates." We will become more than replicants and less than nothing. The cross-roads between the imaginary and all too real construction of MNT is perhaps already behind us. The term "Molecular Nanotechnology" (MNT) refers to the ability to program matter with molecular precision and at some point in the future scale it to three-dimensional products of arbitrary size. Nanotechnology is to inanimate matter what biotech is to animate matter.
Tactical media, science interventionist, and critical theory sectors should have already been involved by the late 1980s when MNT was first being defined for the engineering sectors as a sign moving from a speculative model to a sanctioned exploratory zone. At this point in time not even Bill Joy's (cofounder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems) rant "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us," which appeared in Wired 2001, about the ramifications of molecular nanotechnology will do little more than alter a few micro points of a revised MNT Guidelines by the Foresight Institute.




Gone Nano
As the Biotech sectors gain command and control over 40 per cent of the world economy in the next few years. The MNT or Nanotech sectors will seek to grab hold of the rest of the 60 per cent of the material world during the next few decades. While, Biotech is carbon-based, Nanotech is focusing on carbon atoms. Life is carbon based. The atoms that make the molecules that structure DNA are carbon. Thus, Nanotech has the potential to encompass the entire Table of Elements. Biotech is just a backwater town compared to the command and control that Nanotech will be able to exploit for its own profit. Already several important connections between nano-biology and nano-engineering are being installed in the hybrid venture capital market. Nanotech development is now about where biotech was a quarter century ago. This does not mean it will take 25 years before it starts to attract the kind of capital investment enjoyed by the Genome market. Advances in other scientific fields, especially informatics, means that the acceleration of MNT will be rapid.

A Note About Post-Genomic Profits Today: The Empire's New Genes

"In, 1492, Christopher Columbus, was blundering about the Caribbean in search of India - he wrote home to say that the ancient mariners had erred in thinking the earth was round. Rather, he said, it was shaped like a woman's breast, with a protuberance upon its summit in the unmistakable shape of a nipple - towards which he was slowly sailing."
Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather, 1995

"Objectivity, for the native is always against him."
Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 1959

The conquest of woman and reproduction is at the core of the old Empire - this new land was to be taken, raped, and made to give birth to a new economy. The new Empire of bio-colonialism is replaying the same tale. Only this time Christopher Columbus has planted his flag not on the beach of the Indigenous lands he accidentally discovered but on their genes. Now the flag waves deep in the pleats of matter. The fast-forward future is now a rewinding of the past into the present of post-genomic profits.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): http://www.yantskaz.ru. Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

Both, colonialism and bio-colonialism, pray for the poor dark ones. One prayed for their souls and that the power of the Empire would be able to save them from themselves. The other prays that they will be able to save the natives from the poor genes they have been born with and that the power of the Empire will be able to save them from themselves. Dr. Stuart Newman, Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy New York Medical College notes, "Although there are potentially beneficial uses for the information gathered in the Human Genome Project, there is also the great threat that this information will be used to persuade people that they are not good enough, biologically. This will be justified by promised improvements to human health, but unless carefully monitored and regulated, this emphasis on genetics will have a divisive effect, whereby those categories and groups of people that have traditionally been marginalized will now learn that their genes are inferior and need to be improved." In each instance those who have crossed the unknown seas dreaming new lands for the Empire fall back on the "genomic space" of the dark Other as the reason for life itself as conquest.
As was the case in the days after Columbus, so it follows in the days after the Human Genome Project - the slave ships and their gold are now beginning to cross back into the treasuries of the New Empire. Each day the genetic wealth of the New World is being added to the coffers as new biological "truths" to be patented in the name of Empire's historically given rights to scientific research. As we all know, the human Genome can be privatized, not to benefit people's health for corporate profits. Already, patents have been filed, and then later abandoned, on the DNA of indigenous peoples from the Solomon Islands and Panama. The U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (PTO) actually approved a patent on the cells lines of a Hagahai man from Papua New Guinea. The patent was granted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health in March 1994. In late 1996 the NIH abandoned the patent. However, the Hagahai cell line is now available to the public at the American Type Culture Collection as ATCC Number: CRL-10528 Organism: Homo Sapiens (human) for $216 per sample. This trend is likely to continue as new potentially profitable genes are identified in indigenous populations.
Another link between the Old Empire and the New Empire is the vision that the New World is full of animal people - dark people who have been breeding with the native creatures since the time began. This belief allows the New Empire, as was the case with Old Empire, to rape and reconfigure the dark native as animals - first in the name of God and now in the name of Genomics. Maori activists have already had to take a very active stance on this concern. Donna Gardiner, a Maori researcher, has written extensively on the movement of Selbourne Biological Services and PPL Therapeutics in the Tauranga area of Aotearoa-New Zealand. Selbourne Biological Services imported human DNA for insertion into sheep, those sheep are bred in Tauranga. Donna outlines the manipulative practices of the company to gain access to Tauranga. Her research found that the company asserted by letter to the Ministry of Environment that five members of the Ngati He/Ngai Te Ahi tribes had formalized approval of the company's application. Four of the five tribal members identified in the letter stated that they had not given any such approval. After some probing, they realized that one of their members had indeed signed a letter composed by the company, after being convinced the research was for the "greater good of mankind." Gardiner states that "The thought of human and animal genes being mixed was totally abhorrent and offensive both culturally and morally." The real question is not that we as humans are part of the same Genome as all the rest of the species on the genetic beach - because we are and have always been. But, that now profits are being extracted from the links between human cells and those of animals.






The New Empire wears genes as a sign of wealth and objective "truth," and as a re-play of its historical destiny. As Hegel decreed, progress in the realm of history was possible because it has always already been accomplished in the realm of "truth." The New Empire is now on the genetic beach planting its flag. The symbol on this flag is "TM". The trade mark is now the only "truth" of this Empire. This time the local natives won't be silent and they will slowly surround Columbus as he prays and send him back naked, wearing only his own genes.

What Are Nanos Good For

"Not much difference between a banana and a human. Same Atoms, just arranged differently."
K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, 1986

Nanotechnology is said to offer us unprecedented new set of technical and economic opportunities. The opportunities include: the development of inexpensive and abundant diamond like building materials with a strength-to-weight ratio 50 times greater than titanium, the possibility of widespread material abundance for all the Earth's people, the development of revolutionary new techniques in medicine, and the opening of the space frontier for development. Nanotechnologist also admit that along with these new capabilities come new risks, and new responsibilities. Drexler states that those working with nanotechnology must accept that, "…the future capabilities of MNT also raise an unprecedented set of military, security and environmental issues. Dealing with these issues proactively will be critical to the positive development of the field." That's what scientists said when talk of splitting the atom as possibility was contemplated. It did not help the outcome.

Gray Gooing the Universe

"Do not adjust your mind - there is a fault in reality."
Easy Rider (The Movie), 1971

On the other side, objective scientific speculation from exploratory engineers, have a number of end of History scenarios available: one, primary assemblers will achieve A.I level rapidly and displace humanity as the dominant species. The MNT guidelines call for the containment of the primary assemblers with specific types of command and control spaces, like the Double Security Sphere Protocols (DSSP). The DSSP call for the building of double spheres that will enclose all primary assemblers within an imploding event horizon both within and without - if the containment sphere senses external rupture it automatically implodes - if the internal sphere senses a disturbance it automatically implodes.
Two, History as Assembler, could also end as a gray goo syndrome (GGS) by the reverse engineering of secondary assemblers towards the negation of all molecular programs into an endless gray biomass sea consuming everything and would finally encompass the moon after a few months of replication. This would occur if secondary assemblers or stage-two self-replicating nanobots are built to function autonomously in the natural environment they could quickly convert that natural environment (e.g., "biomass") into replicas of themselves (e.g., "nanomass") on a global basis, a scenario usually referred to as the "gray goo syndrome" but perhaps more properly termed "global ecophagy."
As Drexler first warned in Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (1986):

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): http://www.yantskaz.ru. Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

Gray Gooing Capital with Anti-Market Science

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of the US Office of Patents, 1899

"Economy as we know it will come to an end. No more scarcity."
K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, 1986.




In mid-1999 Business Week announced that Nanotech will turn 'matter into software.' Right now both Japan and the European Union are on equal footing in government support of MNT growth. Britain has established a Nanotechnology Link Program and the French and Germans have created 'Nano-valley' in the upper Rhine. Japan is at this time the most developed MNT country. In the US research expenditures on nanotechnology have soared from US $116 million 1998 to US $220 million in 2000 and US$460 million in 2001. The US Navy is creating an Institute for Nanoscience, which will open in Washington D.C this year.
The market containment of MNT is now under a double re-configuration: first, the economic enclosure of scientific speculation as a new market engine and, second, as a technological displacement of economy as a historical drive. At the same moment that MNT is being embraced as part of the general economy, its internal objective trajectory signs it speculations with a vision of material scarcity as the governing doctrine of Capital finally ending. Capital under the sign of MNT enters slow eraser. The exploratory engineers working on Nanotech see the end of Capital. Indeed History as Capital will now be re-shifted into History as Assembler. The historical shift of an economic embrace of an anti-market science will expand into assembler networks - exchange will become based on design values as distribution and not as Capital.

An Interruption: The New Luddite Challenge
First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): http://www.yantskaz.ru. Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

On the other hand it is possible that human control over the machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car or his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite - just as it is today, but with two differences. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone's physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes "treatment" to cure his "problem." Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or make them "sublimate" their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they will most certainly not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals. [The Unabomber, 1994]




Machine Meat
Biological species almost never survive encounters with superior competitors. Ten million years ago, South and North America were separated by a sunken Panama isthmus. South America, like Australia today, was populated by marsupial mammals, including pouched equivalents of rats, deers, and tigers. When the isthmus connecting North and South America rose, it took only a few thousand years for the northern placental species, with slightly more effective metabolisms and reproductive and nervous systems, to displace and eliminate almost all the southern marsupials.
In a completely free marketplace, superior robots would surely affect humans as North American placentals affected South American marsupials (and as humans have affected countless species). Robotic industries would compete vigorously among themselves for matter, energy, and space, incidentally driving their price beyond human reach. Unable to afford the necessities of life, biological humans would be squeezed out of existence.

GNR: Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics

"We're in a war…We're going to bury this first wave of biotech. The first battle is labeling.
The second battle is banning it."
Activist at a protesters' gathering, November 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle.

400 years ago the ex- Dominican philosopher Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in Rome. His crime was theorizing that our globe circled the sun and the heavens were filled with billions of sun-like stars. Less known to the populace (but equally heretical to the prelates) was Bruno's speculation that all matter, including the living kind, was composed of infinitesimally tiny particles - atoms. MNT (Molecular Nanotechnology) or Nanotech is getting closer and closer to some of Bruno's speculations, now that we are moving into the Post-Biotech Era.
The technologies underlying the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) - were powerful, and the weapons are an enormous threat. But building nuclear weapons required, at least for a time, access to both rare - indeed, effectively unavailable - raw materials and highly protected information; biological and chemical weapons programs also tended to require large-scale activities.
The 21st-century technologies - genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) - are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.

An Intervention: The End of the Gene or Artist as I-biology Tool

"When the circuit learns your job, what are you going to do?"
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message, (1967).

"The gene is a concept past its time."
William Gelbart, molecular geneticist, Science, (1998).

DNA as data is now staged as a "circuit" that performs you as gene. The question of performance as a function between software and wetware breaks down with the Human Genome Project. Data harvesting with I-biology tools displace the performance of DNA as an invisible engine of wetware. The gene has now been spliced into data and distributed for profit. The gene has collapsed under the weight of data. We are now truly data bodies down to our genes.
The time between emergence of "the gene" and extinction of "the gene" was quick and efficient. Under the hyper-Darwinism of Clone Capitalism the gene becomes a concept of the past before we can even understand it in the present. It will be important and necessary to trace the process of this disappearance. To document the moment when the circuit became the gene. The moment when our DNA became a distributed network for the market and it no longer resides in our bodies.

This on-line version of the book "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture" is not full. The unabridged edition can be purchased in printed form as anthology. Requests should be sent to: bulatov@ncca.koenig.ru (full information) or in written form: 236000, Russia, Kaliningrad, 18, Marx str., The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”. Phone requests: Kaliningrad +7(0112)216251, Saint-Petersburg +7(812)3885881, Moscow +7(095)2867666. On-line bookshop (in Russian): http://www.yantskaz.ru. Full reference to this book: "Biomediale. Contemporary Society and Genomic Culture". Edited and curated by Dmitry Bulatov. The National Centre for Contemporary art (Kaliningrad branch, Russia), The National Publishing House “Yantarny Skaz”: Kaliningrad, 2004. ISBN 5-7406-0853-7

While, it may not be possible to fully perform within the scientific networks that float in the inaccessible atmosphere of "scientific objectivity," one possible zone for intervention and re-reading by artists and activists is the space between "system based biology" and the networks that Clone Capitalism is now interlocking into the old E-Capitalism data base sharing tools in order to create new speculations for profit. The intersection between the "gene" as data and the bio-tech market volatilities may offer us an important diagram to shift the social teleology that is mining our bodies for profit. Ludin's Memoryflesh project traces the possibility of understanding this brief window of opportunity for network-art and tactical bio-media in the future. <http://memoryflesh.walkerart.org>

No Longer Science or Forget Mapping

"Science aims to understand how things work; engineering aims to make things work. Science takes the thing as given and studies its behavior; engineering takes a behavior as given and studies how to make something that will act that way."
K. Eric Drexler, Exploratory Engineering, 1988.

"The diagram is highly unstable or fluid, continually churning up matter and functions in a way likely to create change…but, first one must fine visibilities and thresholds."
Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, 1988

With MNT we are no longer in the space of science, but in the space of engineering, two very different conditions and goals. Science is about mapping the process, the transmission, the in-between state between the message sent and the message received. Engineering on the other hand is about building diagrams. A diagram is a layered mapping, a transparent map floating between a number of maps. A Naval prison hospital is a diagram of multiple maps at work within one space. Engineering does not seek to map, but to build the mechanisms, or diagrams, necessary to send and receive, translate, and archive the input and the output defined by the maps.
While the force of scientific mapping is difficult to re-define or displace, the diagram function of
"exploratory engineering" offers segmentation's and visibilities to create counter-diagrams. Inside the diagram, knowledge is a practical assemblage, a mechanism of visibilities, and thresholds for re-drawing the lines. The space of exploratory engineering creates a possible space for tactical assemblages for change and resistance to the Nanotech diagram. Critical interventionist need to develop community research initiatives for counter-diagram constructions and distribution of counter-top-down or bottom-up diagrams. Counter-MNT interventions cannot stop the mapping process, but they can create limited tactical actions to re-shift the diagram of Nanotech. Tactical actions will have to be developed based on finding the points of visibilities and thresholds within the emerging Nanotech diagram.

Bad Nanos in Genes

"If it's new, they hate it."
Ronald Bailey, "Rebels Against the Future," Reason Magazine, 2001.

Imagine if young Nanos (or Nannites) become nostalgic and desire body architectures for themselves. Using Genome transitivity, the Nannities can create the DNA of their desired representations. Perhaps the latest fads at the end of 3000 A.D. among young Nannites will be coagulating as Elvises and Madonnas. Conservative Nanos would be unable to stop the rage for gene replication of popular human icons. No longer would the small and invisible rein, the body Nannites gangs would call for a brave new world of big genes. Bad Nanos would become human, party all night, and forget to rearrange reality the next day.




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COLOPHON

CONTENTS:

I. LABORATORY: science and technology

Svetlana Borinskaya. Genomics and Biotechnology: Science at the Beginning of the Third Millennium.

Mikhail Gelfand. Computational Genomics: from the Wet Lab to Computer and Back.

Irina Grigorjan, Vsevolod Makeev. Biochips and Industrial Biology.

Valery Shumakov, Alexander Tonevitsky. Xenotransplantation as a Scientific and Ethic Problem.

Abraham Iojrish. Legal Aspects of Gene Engineering.

Pavel Tishchenko. Genomics: New Science in the New Cultural Situation.
II. FORUM: society and genomic culture

Eugene Thacker. Darwin's Waiting Room.

Critical Art Ensemble. The Promissory Rhetoric of Biotechnology in the Public Sphere.

SubRosa. Sex and Gender in the Biotech Century.

Ricardo Dominguez. Nano-Fest Destiny 3.0: Fragments from the Post-Biotech Era.

Birgit Richard. Clones and Doppelgangers. Multiplications and Reproductions of the Self in Film.

Sven Druehl. Chimaera Phylogeny: From Antiquity to the Present.
III. TOPOLOGY: from biopolitics to bioaesthetics

Boris Groys. Art in the Age of Biopolitics.

Stephen Wilson. Art and Science as Cultural Acts.

Melentie Pandilovski. On the Phenomenology of Consciousness, Technology, and Genetic Culture.

Roy Ascott. Interactive Art: Doorway to the Post-Biological Culture.
IV. INTERACTION CODE: artificial life

Mark Bedau. Artificial Life Illuminates Human Hyper-creativity.

Louis Bec. Artificial Life under Tension.

Alan Dorin. Virtual Animals in Virtual Environments.

Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau. The Application of Artificial Life to Interactive Computer Installations.
V. MODERN THEATRE: ars genetica

George Gessert. A History of Art Involving DNA.

Kathleen Rogers. The Imagination of Matter.

Brandon Ballengee. The Origins of Artificial Selection.

Marta de Menezes. The Laboratory as an Art Studio.

Adam Zaretsky. Workhorse Zoo Art and Bioethics Quiz.
VI. IMAGE TECHNOLOGY: ars chimaera

Joe Davis. Monsters, Maps, Signals and Codes.

David Kremers. The Delbruck Paradox. Version 3.0.

Eduardo Kac. GFP Bunny.

Dmitry Bulatov. Ars Chimaera.

Valery Podoroga. Rene Descartes and Ars Chimaera.
VII. METABOLA: tissue culture and art

Ionat Zurr. Complicating Notions of Life - Semi-Living Entities.

Oron Catts. Fragments of Designed Life - the Wet Palette of Tissue Engineering.
VIII. P.S.

Dmitry Prigov. Speaking of Unutterable.

Wet art gallery

Biographies

Bibliography

Webliography

Glossary


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