49Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero - Chapter 2 - Setting Up Your Genetic Engineering Hero Space
Thinking about science... in ction! Breakout Exercise
One way technologists and engineers think about the future is by looking at the potential social impacts
that imagined or emerging technologies could have... in science ction! Whether in lm, TV, novel, video
game or comic book form, most science ction works expose a new world-view of society resulting from
the emergence and adoption of a new technology or science. The example we are most familiar with in
biotechnology is, of course, Jurassic Park. But, there are many more authors and creators who have crafted
intriguing worlds borne from the impact of biotechnology. While many may portray negative views of such
a future (dystopia), we technologists and scientists can learn a lot by using our ‘ethical muscle’ at the same
time as we entertain ourselves.
Let’s try! Go ahead and practice your ‘ethical muscle’ by reading the short story Double Spiral by Marcy Kelly,
available to read online at Slate.com as part of their Future Tense Fiction series or at amino.bio/Doublespiral.
While you read or after you’ve nished reading Double Spiral, ll out Amino Labs’ The 3 Levels of Technol-
ogy Contemplation table using the primary technology described in the story. This is a technology you’ll
recognize from the real world, taken to some unintended places. (Hint: its a saliva-ting technology!) You
can use implied or obvious impacts to ll your table.
Then, add one more level of contemplation starting at the end of the story. Using your own imagination,
think about where the technology in Double Spiral could go next? What would be the implications? For
example, you could imagine what would happen if the protagonist did expose the alluded-to truth about
LyfeCode and the K5 mutation?
Since Double Spiral by Marcy Kelly is a dystopia, you will be exposed to a world in which LyfeCode tech-
nology brings about mostly negative impacts. You’ve identied a few positive impacts when completing
The 3 Levels of Technology Contemplation. What are some other positive impacts that could of happen had
the story been written differently? Try to re-write the story as a utopia (positive view of the technology
and the future). What is different? What do you think could be done today to ensure we move towards a
utopian end with this technology that is already part of our everyday?
If you enjoyed this exercise, have a look at Table 2 for more works that deals with genetic engineering or
biotechnology. Of course, this is not a complete list but some selected works that we’ve found noteworthy.
Table 2-1 - Science ction to explore biotechnology ethics
Maddadam trilogy by Margaret Atwood Novel
Borne by Jeff Vandermeer Novel
Beggars in spain by Nancy Kress Novel
Always true to thee, in my fashion by Nancy Kress, (available online at Lightspeedmagazine.com) Short Story
Brave new world by Aldous Huxley (A classic!) Novel
Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin Short Story
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes Short Story
Blood Music by Greg Bear (short story version available online, see Freesfonline.net/authors/Greg_Bear) Short Story & Novel
Gattaca (1997) Movie
Blade Runner (1982) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Movie
Never let me go (2010 - based on a 2005 novel) Movie/Novel
Okja (2017) Movie
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50 Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero - Chapter 2 - Setting Up Your Genetic Engineering Hero Space
Summary and What’s Next?
You now know the type of environment, equip-
ment, safety clothes and other materials needed to
complete all of the exercises necessary to become a
Genetic Engineering Hero.
You’ve also learned that by becoming a Genetic
Engineering Hero, you will have great power. Contem-
plation and ethical examination must always go
hand-in-hand with great power. Always remember
that just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.
You are now ready! Lets move forward into the world
of genetic engineering bacteria by looking at what
cells we are going to use throughout the book. In
the next chapter, you are going to learn the skills for
growing microorganisms.
Review Questions
1. What does “BSL” and “RG” stand for?
2. Why is clean air important to have in your workspace?
3. What three things should you consider wearing during your experiments?
4. What seven best practices should you consider when genetic engineering?
5. Are you allowed to work with RG-2 organisms? Explain.
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