MISSION – What relationships do we have and want to have with nature?
As synthetic biology allows us to engineer the living world, what are our goals and ambitions? What values shape the design of nature? This discussion will include contributions from Maurizio Montalti, Julia Rijssenbeek, Roel Bovenberg, Pim Klaassen, Megan J. Palmer, and of course you.
Together, we will focus on reflecting about the promises of synthetic biology and on what must change or remain consistent if we are to achieve a desirable future?
October 19, 2021
MU Hybrid Art House
5617 BD – Eindhoven (NL)
In 2020 the World Economic Forum formed a new Global Future Council on Synthetic Biology. Synthetic biology is developing approaches to design and repurposing the building blocks of the living world, and the Council’s mission is to explore which futures are made possible and which may be desirable. As part of this work, the Council has partnered with Faber Futures, a design consultancy, on a project called ‘Bio.Stories’. Bio.Stories is a multi-stage engagement strategy to solicit compelling narratives about our changing relationships with the living world from stakeholders whose insights and viewpoints may have been underrepresented in previous global discussions. The project’s first stage, Bio.Stories [Eindhoven], is taking place during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in October 2021. The open forums taking place during the week will facilitate inclusive, reciprocal and accessible conversations between a wide pool of stakeholders, soliciting local narratives about our changing relationships with nature.
For millennia, people have gathered in circles to discuss the world that surrounds them – sharing ideas, asking questions, establishing meaning and purpose. As we stand at the dawn of a new science, the World Economic Forum’s Global Council for Synthetic Biology gathers to discuss how and why we design and repurpose the building blocks of nature. Faber Futures aims to extend the conversation from the closed-door global discussion to the local level – to open up the circle to all.
At BIO.STORIES [Eindhoven], one of the most ancient human practices becomes a forum for contemplation of the global future – an invitation to come together in the circle, explore our relationship with nature, and tell the stories that will shape our living world.
At the centre of the circle, selected artefacts act as both material and immaterial manifestations of synthetic biology – a nascent discipline developing approaches to design and repurpose the building blocks of nature. The possibilities that synthetic biology offers us are extraordinary. For the first time in human history, we have the power to develop and implement a vision for organic life on Earth. But whose vision should it be? Are we to be the masters of nature, its custodians, or its collaborators?
These curated artefacts are the starting points of the conversation, prompting discussion of the innovations they represent, the possibilities they create, and the tensions they raise.
They are the tools and the outcomes of a science that is still to be fully defined, milestones of the progress we have made and symbols of the ambitions we entertain. From the apparent simplicity of a grain of golden rice to the unfathomable complexity of the DNA sequencer, the objects unlock insights into the interconnectedness of humanity and nature, technology and culture, philosophy and science.