Rob van Kranenburg: Internet of Things and the horizons of bio and nano, and Denisa Kera

The Internet of Things is the highway that will bring in the next horizons of nano and bio technology not as new trends or thin strands alongside the developments, but it will ‘eat’ them so that the mobile health patches in your t-shirt become slightly more organic and any component in any RFID enabled application or sensor based architecture even more small and smaller. As we as humans will keep losing track of the feedback we need to feel secure and safe, as the systems that are supporting our decisions can no longer been seen, heard, felt, we must be ready to rethink radically what we perceive as ’trust’ as otherwise we can not humanly resist building in check after check after check in the system breaking the very notion why we want to build it in the first place, to have flow.

Council was initiated from the debates in the interactive arts scene and 'Mixed Reality' discussions at RIXC, Riga, and festivals like DEAF, Futuresonic (now FutureEverything), ISEA, Doors of Perception Flow, RFID workshops by me and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer at Mediamatic and discussions with Karmen Franinovic and Natacha Roussel on 'Mixed Reality Corporation'. The actual name 'Council' was thought up in a discussion with Sean Dodson, Christian Nold, maker of Biomapping, Usman Haque and Régine Debatty and the speech of Gérald Santucci at the Gala Dinner of the First Forum Europe Internet of Things in Brussels. In that talk he said that IoT could not be build without designers, artists and philosophers.
That was the signal to start Council and we started with a meeting at IMAL in Brussels. Before Council, and still very active - together with Bronac Ferran, Matt Ratto, Jaromil and Felipe Fonseca - we set up a network on open source soft and hardware. See for example the project of JN Montagné, the open source washing machine.

The reason to start Council was to make a kind of newspaper that becomes the first resource on IoT to look for information. Ideally every page has something from design, applications, technology, arts or philosophy. That way none of these topics can become the 'other'. As IoT is about 'everything' as it is a new ontology. No longer we can build models with only analogue and digital building blocks, we now have hybrid objects that start to claim their own independence and there are new actors like private grid operators that are really new. The intelligences that build it must have a wide variety of expertise, skills and ways of living. It can not be build on efficiency strategies only.

2013 seems to be the year of breakthrough of IoT for a larger audience. Those of us who see IoT as a game changer and new playing field realise that for a large audience the analogue issues of privacy and security will become really strong and that there will be a lot of work for privacy policies, easy methods based on Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) but there is a need as well to set up proactive infrastructures, methods and tools that work form the assumption that IoT will lead to huge if not 'total' transparency. Also in that respect there must be a wide variety of actors having access to the databases that make up the IoT (which could be a kind of Object Naming System - similar to DNS -  if GS1 gets its ideas across).

For becoming a strong consultancy firm in IoT in the coming years and leading in 5, we - Alex Deschamps Sonsino, Martin Spindler, Lorna Goulden and me - set up a company, Internet of People (IoP) in London.

Council is neutral in all of this. It caters to the more reactive point of view that sees IoT as a gradual movement of growing connectivity without changing the nature of the actors and their resources (single currency, IP, patents, copyright, general and specific law) as well as catering to and making scenarios for the more proactive point of view that sees IoT as an extremely disruptive set of practices fuelled by growing transparency of real time data streams that are increasingly harvested, managed and made actionable by citizens and new groups of actors operating on new forms of funding.

Internet of Things is an operation of the scale and scope of fire, wheel and book as it operates in the liminality of all types of activity; it is connectivity itself. It is therefore not unusual to have usecases on health, predictive maintenance, smart dust, IpV6, smart home and city, RFID slaughtering, OneCard pilots (shop, park, home...)co-existing in a single day of an IoT Conference. IoT is itself the new Circle, drawing everything in an equal data reality.

The key question then becomes:

“How do prototypes connect technology, philosophy, ethics and social life and enable these experimental interactions?“ (Denisa Kera)

The work of Denisa Kera - Innovation regimes based on collaborative and global tinkering: Synthetic biology and nanotechnology in the hackerspaces - then shows us a direction that will become decisive in our ability to start building new frameworks for negociating formats and forms of quality.

Her abstract:

Typically nanotechnology and synthetic biology are discussed in terms of novel life forms and materials created in laboratories, or by novel convergences of technologies (ICTs and biological protocols) and science paradigms (engineering and biology) they initiated. Equally inspiring is their ability to generate novel institutions and global communities around emergent sciences, which radicalize the forms of public engagement and ethical deliberation. We are starting to witness alternative (iGEM competitions) and almost un- derground R&D engagements with Synthetic Biology (DIYbio movement), which inspired the emerging bottom-up involvements in nanotechnologies in projects, such as the NanoSmanoLab in Slovenia. These bottom-up involvements use tinkering and design as models for both research and public engagement. They democratize science and initiate a type of grassroots “science diplomacy”, supporting research in developing countries. We will discuss several recent examples, which demonstrate these novel networks (“Gene gun” project by Rüdiger Trojok from the Copenhagen based hackerspace,, the “Bioluminescence Project” by Patrik D’haeseleer from Biocurious biotech hackerspace in Sunnyvale, CA, and the “Biodesign for the real world” project by members of the Hackteria. org). They all use design prototypes to enable collaborative and global tinkering, in which science and community are brought together in open biology laboratories and DIYbio hackerspaces, such as or Biocurious. In these projects research protocols encompass broader innovative, social and ethical norms. Hackerspaces represent a unique opportunity for a more inclusive, experimental, and participatory policy that supports both public and global involvements in emergent scientific fields.

Innovation regimes based on collaborative and global tinkering: Synthetic biology and nanotechnology in the hackerspaces. National University of Singapore, Department of Communications and New Media, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Block AS6, #03-17, 11 Computing Drive, Singapore 117416, Singapore

In order to start a debate on this we will launch IoC soon; theinternetofcreatures.

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