DNA-Living Hard Drive

 

DNA-Living Hard Drive 

DNA-Living Hard Drive is a speculative design/design fiction regarding to DNA-data storage and DNA-editing such as CRISPR on living things. Several designed objects are invented to speculate on future network based on living things as medium for data exchange through designed objects and inquiry an imaginary radical human-computer symbiosis. The project aims to invoke people’s awareness on ethical issues and open discussion about humanity in regards to DNA-editing as well as invite people to imagine alternative relationships between human-computer and human-living things. (Project in progress)

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Impetus

Same as the starting point for the Food Whisper project, this project also came from the idea of DNA-digital data storage, However, the entry point of this design is more futuristic and even fictional. More radical than inquiry on the food, I wonder what would happen to the whole system of living things? How could it change human-computer relationship? And what is the new definition of humanity under this mechanism and network? 

Research

Mechanism of DNA-Digital data storage

Mechanism of DNA-Digital data storage

Before I started the design, I read a lot of academic paper and did several interviews with professionals working in related fields in order to make sure some of my assumptions and hypothesis such as whether it is theoretically possible for living things to carry digital data on the DNA sequence and whether it is inheritable. And the answer is yes. In fact, there has been several precedents that allows living things to carry a certain foreign DNA such as the Human DNA tree by BCL, which the artist adds his grandmother's DNA to an apple tree. Also, there has been many successful examples that use E-coli to store digital data such as movies. Therefore, theoretically we can use any living things as the medium to store data.

Scenario

Based on the research, I started to picture how the future scenario would be. And for each scenario, it comes up with one or several designed object demonstrating future human-machine interaction and human-living things relationship.

Design 1 - Wiki Food

Data gets downloaded from the cloud and kept locally in human body through food.

Design 2

People keep the most valuable memory into the plant in order to make it last forever for offsprings. This design invites people to reflect on the meaning of data, memory and inheritance. 

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Exhibited at the PRIMER18 conference, Berkeley, CA