Technological and Humanitarian Evolution
In a nutshell, strategically speaking - I think there is much more to be gained via open source agroecology (permaculture replicator + equipment pool + fabrication + ecoindustry) than by DIY Bio, unless your definition of DIY bio reaches beyond lab technique/equipment to permaculture replicator + ecoindustry of process design + materials handling equipment + fabrication thereof.
I believe that our main point of difference is the assumption on population. You imply that population will keep growing to about 100 times the present value, I imply that it will stabilize to approximately the same number of people as today up to 10 times that. I favor agroecological integration (natural limits of population determined by local resource use). It appears that you assuming that people will not ever stop and say 'enough is enough' on the human population issue. I think that they will, as they notice that production of everything in 'vats' just causes to much trouble by the pressures of human density. I am hoping that we never get to the point of finding this out first hand - as we retain a more ecologically integrated way of life.
You seemed to imply that DIY Bio will relieve the human density pressures. Not with so many selfish people out there. History is not showing signs of wisdom. So we might as well wisen up right now, because I smell trouble with the 'growing everything in test tubes' route. This route eliminates natural constraints on human greed and population.
Well, this all above is speculation...RE:
>I also follow the open farm tech group. Intriguing. Not many people make this connection. My problem with OSE (as detailed in many email conversations with Marcin) is that some crucial pieces of technology are missing.
The point to keep in mind is to demonstrate the synergies of an integrated ecology of technologies - and if this fails to produce hands-down unprecedented quality of life, then we will be moving forward to more 'exotic' technologies. Integration is our first avenue to unprecedented productivity, not point technologies. Essentially, we want to avoid the 'myth of technology' - the critique of technology that shows that further-evolved technology causes deepening problems - largely because humans and their organizational systems are incapable of managing the technology properly.
Therefore, our general approach is to optimize the simplest technology set - so that humans and their organizational systems are capable of managing them properly. To do this, one must begin with the simplest technology set.
This is all too heavy on the machinery and engineering side. If they really want "high-tech neo-subsistence", as claimed, then synthetic biology or at least more biochemistry is in order. I doubt that OSE will go there but I support them (I am a "true fan") because it's a useful set of technologies. What your group is doing is producing another useful set. Putting them both together eventually will create true neo-subsistence.
The priorities of OSE are chosen from a strategic perspective. If one is pursuing a boot-strapping approach, one moves from basic necessities to more exotic technologies. Therefore, one would pursue DIY Bio first under two major assumptions: (1) assumption of external dependence on electromechanical infrastructure, (2) assumption that DIY Bio precedes integrated ecological design (permaculture and agroecology)
We are pursuing this program instead:
1. Mastery of all electromechanical infrastructure for all surviving, thriving, and neosubsistence tasks. This includes self-replicating fabrication capacity. 2. Use the above to master the built environment, direct solar energy provision, biofuel provision, food provision, and transportation needs. It should be noted that our goal on food provision is utilizing an integrated gene pool, which is in istelf self-replicating - together with productive machinere - to master food provision at any scale at the cost of 15 minutes per person per day. 3. From the standpoint of comfortable lifestyle resulting from achieving step 2 , develop import substitution - from the global to on-site resources - primarily for metals, semiconductors, rubber, plastic, and glass. This means technologies such as sand and clay converted to aluminum, silicon, glass, and ceramics; biomass to bioplastic; and dandelion latex to rubber.
Above all, it must be kept in mind that the program above is 'machinery and engineering' on the surface only. It is actually a humanitarian program of evolving beyond materials scarcity, so that this aspect can be eliminated as the driving force of civilization. I'm really interested in post-scarcity practice leading to more highly-evolved human beings.
One cannot forget that any other higher tech begins with the mundane materials handling, biofuel generation, direct solar conversion, fabrication, integrated gene pool - or many other horsepower-to-service conversion of energy to human service. This is what our 'machinery and engineering' is about. Materials provision (DIY Bio or agroecology or pyrolysis oil, etc) all rely on this electromechanical infrastructure. Hence, anyone interested in a better world should take this as the first priority for opensourcing - as mundane as it is.
Personally, I never thought I'd be getting into building tractors or machining equipment. It's just what needs to be done (opensourced) right now.