The Future of BioGen Protection: Information, DNA, and 3D Printing


In the future bio-policing will datascan for trace evidence (i.e., hair, semen, etc.)  that can then be developed into 3D recreations of your physical form and profile. Such information could be used by governmental or underground organizations for nefarious purposes: cloning, robotic mimicry, etc. Clones or overlays could replace individuals for specific targeted infiltration into governments, corporations, etc. for assassination, corporate espionage, etc. …story ideas like paranoid pop-up dolls trickle through the mindwires…

Heather Dewey-Hagborg an artist and programmer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently said that the “very things that make us human — our bodies and cells — become a liability”. She decided to perform an experiment and began collecting forensic samples in public spaces, monitoring the streets and bathrooms of New York. She then took that grab bag of human leftovers to Genspace, a community biology lab in New York City. After analyzing the DNA for identifiable traits, she used a computer model to predict the faces of the people who left them and used 3D printing to recreate those faces. The resulting series of masks were part of a 2013 show she called “Stranger Visions.” Of course there’s no way to know how closely the faces match those of the people who left the errant pieces of debris, but the art reveals the wealth of personal information that could hide in seemingly anonymous pieces of trash. Dewey-Hagborg argues that this genetic information needs to be protected.

As she told the interviewer, “You wouldn’t leave your medical records on a subway for just anyone to read,” she said. ” It should be a choice.”

“If we’re entering this era of mass biological surveillance, we need instruments of counter-surveillance to protect our privacy,” she said. To counter such policing abilities a new trend is to develop products that would erase or efface one’s genetic traces ubiquitously during the day. is gathering data and knowledge for such eventualities. As they tell it:

Biological surveillance is the means by which biological science is used to track, monitor, analyze, and turn bodies into data. It is the extraction of DNA and microbes from our skin, nails, hair and body fluids. It is the analysis of identifying body parts like faces, fingerprints and irises. It is the tracking of life itself by body heat, pulse, perspiration, and involuntary movement. It is the vulnerability we each face every day by the very situation of being human, by simply having a body.

She said alternative products are already being developed. The two-part product, called Invisible, consists of two chemical solutions. The first, called Erase, removes 99.5 percent of genetic information. The second solution, called Replace, essentially scrambles the genetic signal by cloaking it with a kind of DNA noise. In an increasingly surveillance-saturated world, ordinary citizens who want to protect their privacy may wind up “doing things that might even border on illegal, but might be the same kinds of things that police or corporations might be doing less publicly,” Dewey-Hagborg said.

(from Tia Ghose: Bio-Art: 3D-Printed Faces Reconstructed from Stray DNA)

2 thoughts on “The Future of BioGen Protection: Information, DNA, and 3D Printing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s