Free as in Dirt: In Pursuit of Truly Open Source Physical Objects
12:55AM Jul 26, 2020
tuning into any of our multiple streams here for hope 2020 our next. Our next segment would feature Dominic nouran, founder and principal of the humble factory, a design lab in Seattle, Washington, which builds tools and technologies that increase the cost capabilities of makers around the world. From a decade ago, the democratization of 3d printers and CNC 2d cutters using lasers and routers brought with it reckless theorizing at mass customization and bespoke production of objects and a global supply chains. a thing of the past, this talk will present an alternative technological development path and where materials are sourced entirely from constituents of living ecologies and the materials they produce. This video does run slightly long, it does exceed the length of these segments then we will ensure that the entire video will be available via our YouTube channel.
Hello, everybody. I'm so excited to be able to come here virtually to present this to you all. I'm super excited to be speaking and hope I followed This community for so long. And this is my first time talking. And I'm also excited to talk about how we can make a pursuit of truly open source objects and kind of explain what that means. But first, let me get into what open source really means. Outside of software, in open source, we often talk about free isn't freedom, which means if you once you get the thing, you can do anything you want with it, you can modify it, break it, hack it, whatever. So you're free to do those things, but it might cost you money to get. And then we talk about things that are free as in beer. So you might pay for a piece of or you might get a piece of software for free. But it is not it's gratis software, but it's not open source, freedom oriented software. And so you could have something that's both but then when we get into matter, we have this other issue, and that is that the actual material that things are constituted Out of even though the design might be open, and the you might be able to, you know, make that thing for a trivial amount of money because of the way that the global economy is set up, you might not have access to the raw materials of that thing. And that's the real trick here. And so what I'd like to propose is when we talk about open source objects, we need to talk about free as in dirt, which is to say it's ubiquitous, it's everywhere that there is life. And so, it is a kind of like the fundamental aspect that we can that we can try to aspire to achieve. And to let me talk a little more about what I mean by this trifecta here. But before I get there, let's talk about why I care about this stuff. So a little history about me. I started off as a kind of an environmental blogger. I'm a product designer, I teach industrial design at the University of Washington. And before I did that, before I went back to school and got my master's, I was writing for tree hugger about how to be eco friendly. And that was mostly you know, things like recycle whatever. And I got asked to write this book, which basically is, takes concepts and tries to break them down as to like, you know, should you use natural fibers? Well, there are pluses and minuses and it it really looking into these questions really made me realize that in most cases, there are no hard cut and dried good answers. As long as you are holding some assumptions like you're going to be in a kind of centrally produced globalized. manufactory. As long as you're going to do that, it's very difficult to make it eco friendly. It's always a choice. There's always a choice. And so this book writing process really broke my brain and made me less optimistic about that kind of eco design movement. But when I went, when I got my first job teaching at U dub or my first teaching job at U dub, I really started thinking about what does that really mean? What would it What would it really mean to be to be a more environmentally responsible product? And so I started thinking about things that were more like ecologies of parts, and replaceable parts. And this was before, you know, this was, well before phone blocks. This was right when kind of maybe a little after Arduino. And a little after that kind of open hardware, electronic hardware movement was really getting rolling. And so I was trying to think about how could those things work and I got I got to have a TED fellowship and speak at TED, in a TED global in Oxford, about this stuff about having these kind of recombinant torial aspects of products. But even that,
products that were still made in the global economy with extraction based mining and all this kind of stuff, it still kind of kind of rang a little bit ring a little hollow because you're, you're just extending the life of products, you're not necessarily allowing for them to be again, truly open source, you just make them be more remixable. And you still need to have this globalized infrastructure. So here's another concept. This one was a an actual functional electronic device that used some some non Arduino open packages, open open components and some Arduino open components and some 3d printable components. And some syllable component mean I was it was a whole mix of stuff. So getting
there, I really learned
a few lessons. And I think I wanted to start with those lessons in this talk and then talk a little bit about some suggestions, some seeds that might grow into this future alternative. The first one is this idea is that sustainability is about resilience, rather than being about being waste free or whatever the end goal is to be resilient, right? It's not necessarily to be sustainable. It's the reason you do it is because you want the resilience and there are plenty of examples I could give Hurricane Katrina was a really motivating one for me at the time that I was in grad school. It just hit utterly shut down supply chains within New Orleans and you could see that there were all these people suffering because they didn't have access to things that they needed in the immediate aftermath of this. Very, you know,
creature stated but natural disaster.
And likely likewise, we're in a similar one. Now I use this image because many of you may not know we have a global Plexiglas shortage right now if you if you go if you're a restaurant tour or somebody and you want to get Plexiglas for your, your, you know, sneeze guards, it's crazy
very difficult to obtain. And that is
I Plexiglas is not a hard thing to make. It's just something that we you know, that we've never made at the levels that we need to make right now. And we won't need it and we're gonna have to make this like, you know, sort of wartime effort of plexiglass production and then we're going to have to spin those plants down. So there's a cost of doing that extra effort, whether that's overtime hours for the employees that are trained on the tools or getting more of the tools themselves converted over to make this sheeting rather than something else. It's a really again, just like a weird A weird problem and emergent challenge within this within
you know, most of the time I think when you think of pandemic, you don't think of like, well, it's good to screw Plexiglas over, right, like plexiglass is really going to be what gets hit. And so that I think was a was just fascinating for me. A second one. So if we're interested in resilience, then we need to think about what things are resilient and it turns out, there is no good way to make from my from my perspective, there is no good way to make mining based resource extraction resilient, whether that is things like complicating oils into plexiglass, or whether that's getting rare earth metals or whatever that you need to make consumer electronics those kinds of mistakes. resources will be depleted. And even if we are able, it's a big if to go and do asteroid mining or moon mining or any of the various things that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk really want to do with these space companies we we will still be trapped in the same loop we may be able to expand human, our human civilization further, but then it will just be more difficult when we hit that next wall right of the moon ran out of tantalum rather than just the Earth's crust ran out of tantalum. So it's it's uh, you know, you can you can pass the buck down a couple generations, but there is a way to solve it and solve it in the way that life has solved it over generations and that is to derive your raw materials from the soil and from the air. And to do that via an interrelated set of Animals and plants that operate in ecology. And so just for those of you who have not thought about your food systems very much here it is, this is some corn in Iowa. And this is what we do. Generally, when we're talking about engaging with the, the the soil system to make products, whether that those are food products, or in this case, they could just as likely be PL a plastic for 3d printers made from the starch from this corn. So it's, we plant a monoculture. We have to treat it with incredible care and spray it with tons of pesticides and subsidize it with minerals that we mined somewhere else, because it is super delicate. It's not a resilient system. And so my goal here is to avoid
like this one. This
was the girl Michelle banana You all now eat Cavendish bananas. They are by all accounts less delicious and you know, less wonderful than this one but this one in the early 19 hundred's was subject to a fungal disease that wiped out all the plantations for our global system of producing bananas you can still find them in some tropical places where kind of bespoke producers make them they can survive for a little while but there there's no way to make giant monocultures of them anymore because this fungus is is totally pandemic and has wiped out any large plantation of these bananas. And the Cavendish is also now being attacked by a fungus and it's it is going to be half it is going to have to be replaced. We will have another banana my kids will not eat Cavendish bananas, they will eat some other banana, which is which is wild to think about right that's like two generations of people have had to give up their bananas because of this Kind of monocultural system that we're stuck inside.
have serious resource depletion because of that this is a map of the estimated topsoil loss and different kinds of mineral mineral extraction that are happening in the American Midwest in the watershed of the Mississippi River. And then this is also an overlay of the, the eutrophication of the, the deoxygenation. That happens in the Persian Gulf or the Persian Gulf in the in the Gulf of Mexico. Every summertime, because of those minerals that get leached out to the top so it comes out it feeds a bunch of algae, the algae blooms, it sucks up all the oxygen as it decays and all the fish die off. And so that cycle has been going on, you know, since the probably the 50s. It's really been accelerating because of planting trees. techniques that we have put in place and watering techniques that we've put in place that that really accelerated topsoil loss since the 50s. So that's that was another issue with this and you there are people like Wes Jackson who are working on at the Land Institute working on doing perennial crops rather than these annual crops. You can see an annual wheat on this side with this tiny tiny root system that doesn't hold soil in place. And a perennial hunk This is kernza intermediate wheatgrass, sort of a an, an improved perennial wheat grass. thing that you can see this this this regrows from a dormant plant every year so it doesn't it doesn't die back and get harvested and then the soil is bare all winter it the the roots stay and so it grows. it spends some energy growing roots but those roots go you can see much deeper into the soil even down, you know, you'd see roots all the way down here. And those roots really can extract a lot more water in drought, drought at times, but they also hold the soil in place a lot more aggressively. And so it just makes for a much better soil building kind of crop, even if it's a monoculture. However, there's no reason to stick with monocultures. If you really think about how the the farm can be aligned. And so this guy Wendell Berry really inspired me with he wrote an essay called let the farm be the judge about how your engagement with the land that you are on. He's a poet and farmer, kind of guy, and he's writing about sheep, but it really spoke to me about you know, what if we were making consumer products and what if we were making consumer products using the resources of a place and what would those resources be? How would that place decide those for us, because of the kinds of plants we could grow and the kinds of plants we could grow together, so his work is super interesting. So this idea that open source is not enough for making this whole thing possible. Sure, you can share the code and you can share 3d files for an object, right? If you wanted to make a chair, you could share 3d files for that chair. And you could even share you know, formulae for the plastic for that chair and the, you know, the metallurgical spec for the rivets and all that kind of stuff. But you still need to get those resources in this case we have coal tan is a is a tantalum ore that gets mined in all over the world, but primarily in Congo and in and around Congo. It has some of the richest reserves of this mineral and this tantalum is a is a Very rare mineral in the Earth's crust. It's not rare absolutely in the universe, but it happens to be rare in the Earth's crust because of the way that it it alloys with other minerals that are heavier and all this sort of stuff.
So in order to get this you often have resource conflict that can be driven by this because it's in a place which has had many different layers of destabilization of its local communities and governments and has overwhelming demand for this thing. That is, you know, the the number of these are these are using cell phones, Video game systems and all these these capacitors. They are used in lots of radio frequency devices or FAST Fast Response devices. And so, if you if you think about how many how much consumer electronic demand, there is in Congo, it's reasonable, but it's not overwhelming. And so the country can't satisfy all the demand internally. And so a lot of it gets exploited. And because it gets exploited, there's excessive demand outside. And so there becomes this kind of perverse incentive for maybe a warlord or a corrupt official or someone to look the other way when people's human rights are being trampled on to to do the extraction of this or to not put in place good environmental protections that would that would help people to do alternative things that they might want to do like restorative farming or watershed protection, that sort of thing. That is just because it's not economically it doesn't make economic sense. It makes more sense to, to strip mine, this area. So, when you're thinking about the periodic table, one of the ways to think about it is to think about
are these things formed? And if you see number 73 down there, right? tantalum, that's a, that's a, that's a beefy molecule. It's got a lot of neutrons, it's heavy. The way that these things form is you start with a star that's hydrogen. And that star fuses things together and it fuses, nuclei, fuses, fuses fuses, you get helium, you get lithium, barium, you get boron, you you work your way up, okay? And each time you fuse nuclei together, some energy is released. Okay? Until fire. If you have to iron nuclei, and you fuse them together, it actually requires energy to do it. Okay, it actually it does not sustain the star. And so once your star gets a core that's made mostly of iron, it starts to cool off because every new fusion event sucks up energy, it doesn't release energy. And that's when you get situations like that. Your star just turns into a white dwarf and it doesn't do anything or your star, whatever, it just gets smaller and smaller becomes this kind of like, dead cold, stony star, you know, Red Dwarf or whatever. Okay? Only in the rare cases, when you have a supernova where it explodes, right? It, it has sort of a super critical mass and collapses on itself. And that pressure causes it to, to jump past the iron barrier, and do some of these other fusions that release more energy and then you release a ton of energy and everything's great. That's when you produce things that are atomic number 27 and above, okay, but other than that, you're stuck with iron. Okay. And so if you look at some of the minerals that we use, some of them are great, right? Um, you know, you got aluminum, awesome. You got silicon, sweet. You got iron. You got the, you know, some chromium or titanium. You've heard of these. But then if you look also you might notice that like platinum, Iridium, gold, silver, those are all much bigger or rhodium and palladium are also used a lot in consumer electronics, even simple things like nickel and copper and zinc, right? gallium that's used in gallium arsenide photo cells or different kinds of like
of transition metals that are you know, indium that are used. indium tin is used to make the the clear conductors that coat different kinds of displays, right. These minerals are rare because of physics, they're not rare because Earth was a bummer planet. They're rare because there are not very many supernovae in that in the history of the world relative to other stars. And so we need to be conscious that that we shouldn't be, we shouldn't be relying heavily on these things. And if you look at nature, nature doesn't nature doesn't use these lower these, these higher atomic number minerals in any significant concentration in most cases. In fact, if you look up at the top, you really you can get away with everything up to about I don't know, maybe 16 or 17, right so chlorine, once you start getting into chlorine, you've got you've got your phosphorus, you've got your nitrogen is up there, you've got your potassium is interesting. Potassium is the is a little heavier, but you got potassium and calcium. Those are the, those are like the metals other than iron, which we use for blood, but we use so little of it, right? We use a lot more calcium because we used it in our bones. That that calcium, that's the that's the last big one. We really use metal wise. And potassium is the last big one that that plants use in a bulky way. And so most of these small if they're using these very low weight minerals, because they're super abundant, they're just everywhere. So that's something we need to consider, we need to think about like, sort of, when people talk when Viens talk about like eating low on the food chain. Manufacturers makers should think about like making low on the periodic table, if you can make something out of these low atomic weight materials, it's going to be a more Well, it's you're going to be able to source the materials more easily in a in a physics driven sense, not necessarily in a global economy driven sense.
our 3d printers the answer,
well, this thing is great. This is a you know, this is the prusa the newest prusa it's an awesome open source 3d printer. prusa printers are amazing. This one is fabulous. But it still requires, you know, these either petroleum based plastics, or it requires a crop based plastic that comes from a big industrialized monoculture, right? It is not possible for you easily to make play yourself. It's a it's a biopolymer you could theoretically make it I have yet to see somebody try, like I have yet to see somebody do it successfully. I know that the chemistry that's used by by Tao and Cargill and these these guys are is a is a very dangerous high volume chemistry. It's not a it's not something you could do in your garage. And so that's that's the thing. There certainly are people like precious plastic that want to re grind plastic into filament so that we can reuse it and that's fine. But that's again, this is not a you know, 10,000 year plan. This is a maybe 500 Do your plan, which is, which is great, get us those 500 years, but somebody's got to be thinking about, you know, an intergenerational strategy for this rather than just how to get my kids kids to have 3d printers.
And then lastly, even
if you were able to make the plastic yourself the computer chip that you're using to run the to run the computer controlled the computer controlled manufacturing or the motors, the CNC core of that 3d printer or whatever other robotic fabrication device you're using, requires this extremely energy intensive and material intensive and complexity intensive chip fab plant, in order to make it's just not it with the way that we make consumer electronics today. It's not possible for you to make even this relatively basic
3d printer control software or
hardware? Right? So
even even this thing, it's not possible for you to do. So what is the challenge?
The challenge for us is to reimagine
manufacturing. So that rather than at worst, mining something and using child labor and whatever and having everything be patented, what if instead, we were to reimagine it so that every object when it was made, reinforced to healthy ecology, where humans could cohabitate in that ecology. So it basically, imagine making a phone that builds a forest, like the phone requires a healthy forest, it's not that it doesn't damage a forest. It's not that it allowed for, you know, a replanting of a mind site, which is what the best objects do now, right? They say, oh, we're gonna we're going to buy Some kind of allowance for our damage, and they're going to reinvest to cover the damage they've done. No, this would be something where the act of making it reinforces a positive loop that exists. So how could we possibly do that? Well, this is what we're up against. This is the this is the the current thing you've got, like people totally isolated from any sort of engagement with this natural space. This is a grape vineyard. In believe this one is actually in Portugal. But so this is a great vineyard. People are harvesting these grapes. It's highly automated. This is a this is as mass produced as you can get and this you know, people do interact with these grapes, people walk through them, but nobody hangs out in this grape vineyard. It's not a place to party. It's a it is a strictly agricultural space. And part of the reason for that is it's a monoculture, so that you need to maintain it with pesticides and herbicides. And so that makes it toxic for everything else other than the grapes, which is, you know, what are you going to do?
This on the other
hand is my buddy Joel's farm in West Virginia, and this is much more of a sort of CO cohabitated space. He has horses that live next door that he borrows to, to plow it. He lives on the farm he plays with his kids on the farm, the farm exists as a place for him and his family to live as well as the the, the crops the materials to be extracted from this, this collection of plants. Now this is not a perfect solution. By any means. It's still tillage based, they still they mostly sell fruits and vegetables so they get relatively low return For the stuff that they're selling, because there's just not a lot that they can compete with, there's not a lot of value add they can do. So this is part of the way on the path, but it's not the whole way. So I have six ideas that I think are valuable to consider when you're developing this new when we hopefully are developing this new strategy together. And I've got some examples of people following one or more of the guidelines as we go along. Unfortunately, there really are not very many people trying to
to make an alternative
manufactory or technium. That is this comprehensive. And so that's why I'm talking to you all today. So I should preface this. I run a lab in Seattle. It's my basement. But this is this is how we do that. So that thermal factory, so some of this stuff is mine where there are other people's stuff, I've called out those people and giving you links to follow. And that's, it's my house. This is about six years ago. You can see we started with a pretty normal suburban lot. And just sheet mulched everything and then planted it out with, I don't know, we've probably got around for three or 400 different species of stuff.
Fiber plants, some
medicinal things, some lot of edible stuff,
structure plants for for physical materials, and really trying to push this idea of guilds and polycultures and talk about that in later on. So, here are the six points. Number one, no mining number two, preserve complexity number three, scaffold growth. Number four, breathe For net sheet parts, I'll explain what I mean by that. Number five democratize the tools you're using. So make them cheap and available and open source ideally and mapable by someone if they are open source and then lastly design poly culture so really think in this poly cultural rather than a monocultural frame. So no mining. What I mean by that is literally no mining. Do not dig up the dirt if you need to make a raw material like an organic molecule. Don't use petroleum use a feedstock from something else. You may or may not be aware of that Thomas Edison was obsessed with this later in his life. He was really committed Li breeding goldenrod solidago species of goldenrod and hybrids of goldenrod. This is one of his Normally these are a plant that's like four feet tall and this one is you can see pretty, pretty extreme. And so this plant is has a natural latex and is native to the American Midwest. So it grows in a lot of different climates. I have it in my garden and you can make a rubber from it and you can make a cross link to sulfur crosslinked rubber like the like the vulcanized rubber in your car tires from it and this is actually a car that says this is a Model T that Edison had outfitted with a set of these. These these soltanto rubber tires. Now these were not this rubber is not as good as the rubber on your tires. Okay? But that is not because it couldn't be. That is because the rubber on your tires has had 150 years of or let's say 100 years of research and development around it. And this has not just these lists. The reason that you don't know about this is that no one uses this for anything. I'm not saying we can Replace Goodyear with this, I'm saying that there must be some positive path forward that includes this kind of member of a guild system. Similarly, and even more weirdly, there are a number of plants in the world that are hyper accumulator. So these are these are plants that do what's called Phyto accumulation where they, they accumulate minerals in their tissues. Most of them are early pioneer species that go into like a burnt out place or a place where there was a landslide or some kind of like, volcanic eruption where there is a lot of a mineral present like arsenic that kills everything, and they accumulate that arsenic so that other plants can come after them, right. So they kind of they extract the arsenic from the soil and then die in their tissues and they they accumulate in the very top layer the soil that the lower soil is is better. There are some plants Like this one, which I don't actually know the species it's in. It's in New Caledonia. But this tree has, you know, up to, like 8% nickel in its in its SAP, just an absurd amount of nickel to the point where you can mine You can literally make money by tapping this tree like a maple tree. It's not a common tree. Unfortunately, it is a, you know, there are not very many
crazy nickel rich deposits in the rain forest in New Caledonia. And so because of that there, this is a relatively rare species of tree. And so it's not, I'm not saying go out and cut this tree and get the SAP and make yourself a business. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is there are many, many other kinds of plants like this and if you need to make metal for your project, this would be a very interesting way to do it. You still have to abide by that rule nickel is is heavier than iron, right? So you still don't want to use like bulk nickel to make your thing but if you're going to make a nickel coating on something, this tree would easily provide for enough and you remediate a mine site at the same time. So this tree can productively grow on mine tailings that are crazy toxic with nickel, but are too expensive to clean up any other way. So it's really interesting when when, if you if you were to like reforest a mine in Denver or somewhere that was an ex nickel mine that had played out as far as our mining extraction techniques are concerned but because this tree is so efficient, it would be able to extract that that last little bit Unfortunately, this is this is a tropical tree so it can't grow in Denver. But there are hyper accumulators for nickel that that are are temperate that would, that would be able to do this kind of thing in that context. Second seed preserve complexity. So if you aren't going to harvest a thing, don't make it simpler, just because that makes it easier for you to think about. Try to think about what kinds of valuable shapes or chemical structure or aspects that resource has before you turn it into something. And so one example of that is hole trees is a company that is very difficult to describe. They're sort of a they're, they're a software platform and business to business operator. And so what they do is they know a bunch of forest foresters in the American Midwest, and they have gone into their forests, and these are managed forests. So in most cases, when you're when you're managing a forest, you kind of know which Trees you're gonna cut when and what value they would have, these guys have just taken it to a, an insane next level where they have 3d scanned many of the trees in these forests and they have those scans in a database. And so when someone wants to design something like this, you know, this bandstand, they can go into their database and they can say I need a tree with four branches that branch out at angles sort of like this. And then they also have technologies that allow them to assess the standing living tree, so that they can include the structural integrity of that tree in finite element analysis models. So they can actually like assess the tree to see how, how much strong how much weight it could support given, you know, a dried out and whatever. And then they have warehouses where they dry the tree so they just like they have the whole thing so if you want to go and like pick a tree out to make part of your house, you go in their database you shop for the tree it gets integrated into your build plan you can get you can it can be to code because you can get an engineer to sign off on it because the tree has actually had like modeling done to show they've shown we can use this it will perform or will it will support this load, etc. So yeah, hold true confidence check is just completely amazing. And so, while that is cool, it's incredibly on. It's, it's out of reach for most people, most people are not designing a house, you might want to build a bike and you might have pruned some bushes in your yard and you might have 100 different bush prunings and you'd like to categorize them by shape. And that would be a lot of work for you. But because of things Like the coral TPU and other kinds of,
intelligence accelerators that are being sold. So this is a this, this little guy here in the middle is a is an offline. It's like a graphics card for API's. So it allows you to run TensorFlow without a super beefy computer. So this thing uses a Raspberry Pi and this sort of graphics card this accelerator to this one was built by these interns at Google and it it categorizes marshmallows, it does marshmallow or not, and it tips them into one bowl or the other so you can pour in some marshmallows and then, you know, go away on your lunch break and then you get a marshmallow snack. When you come back and you can build this it is open source it is it is buildable by you. I would not advise you to build the marshmallow thing because it's dumb. build something cool build a build a tree crutch sorter or a bean sorter or you know a general purpose source. That you just teach it with a couple of photos. So that then it knows Oh, these are the things that they want to do cool. These kinds of things, these kinds of teachable sorting devices will have so much potential to revolutionize the reuse of shape in the harvested environment. And no one is doing Oh, I was doing that stuff. Um, you should grow on scaffolds, you should make scaffolds and grow on them. So this this is grown by Jean by Jen Keane is amazing. It's a it's a, it's a, a way of making shoes using bacterial cellulose. bacterial cellulose has been done in the past. The problem with it is it's pretty variable. And the real secret sauce that she did was she added this
either a well
added a threatened That's, that's a CNC sort of woven thread structure. And so this what happens is you weave this thread on this in this complicated tub over these little pegs and then you grow some basically kombucha. She's using a bacterial culture, but it's it's more or less kombucha. You grow this kombucha through it. And so all of this nano cellulose grows through these fibers. Once you dry, excuse me, once you dry that out, you end up with a really, really rigid but also known as shape. object, right? Because it has this it had this scaffold that it grew around. You could do this with lots of different things. You don't have to do it flat. You could do it in in a shape you could you know, there are so many things that you could extend from this initial work but it's it's great work and she's she's really doing incredible stuff. She's working for Adidas now. This is a pavilion project. thing is maybe 15 feet tall. And this is a pavilion project by Zaha Hadid architects, but in collaboration with the block Research Group, which actually did sort of develop this work, and what they're doing is they have a CNC knitted scaffold that is then stretched under tension to put it into a taut configuration, and then you spray it with some resins and some concrete and that stiffens it and then you can take away the the framework so you can see this guy is spraying with some, some resin there, and you can see some of the formwork it's very minimal formwork so the formwork itself is actually very cheap to install. And this whole the the entire knit thing was 180 kilograms and was carried in two suitcases from Switzerland where
where they were the research group Is to Mexico. So it's it's a it's a very portable whereas building this normally would take probably hundreds of pounds of of lumber that was carefully carefully fitted to this shape. So this is a really incredible incredible achievement and it CNC that's the other thing is super cool is this this computer control knitting man is is great breed for net shape parts. Why are we not doing this? We have people breeding for really interesting foods. And so, Dan barber in collaboration with Michael mazurek, who's this breeder at Cornell, have been developing these foods that are like specific to the high end restaurant industry. So you've got the 898 squash is a teeny tiny little single serving butternut squash. Literally designed to be a single serving butternut for roasting for restaurants so it rose faster. It has nice flavor profile too, but it's it's To be used in that kind of fast roasting way. Or you have the tetra squash which was designed so that every stage of the squash can be eaten so you can eat the immature fruits it's a it's a delicata squash so it like when it's mature, tastes like a delicata. When it's immature, it tastes kind of like a weird cucumber that you can use in salads and stuff. You can also eat the stems, the stems are nice and sweet and are are soft and non stringy. They've been bred for non stringiness and then you can also eat it for its flowers. The flowers have been bred for edibility as well. So it's got this it's got this for, you know, for different kinds of edible thing at different stages in the lifecycle so that the farmer can make more money off of planting this single crop if they're working with a restaurant. So row seven seeds is actually selling this stuff. You can grow it yourself if you're interested. Why aren't there people breeding for objects these kinds of options objects are already available in nature. And just imagine what would happen if we took these just a little bit further up top, you've got Job's tears, which is a is a tropical grain crop, but it actually grows as a bead it is a it is a grain that each grain without extra work has a hole through it when you pick it and has a very shiny seed coat. And it's pretty durable. So you these are literally as if they were bred to be a bead and you could if you were interested and you were trained as a seed breeder, or plant breeder, you could breed these into you know, different different sizes, shapes, sort of confirmations, you could do things with these, right, you mess with different colors, all that kind of stuff. nobody's doing that because there's just not enough demand for seed beads. Similarly When I think about things like deer antlers which grow back this is a this is a raw material that goes back every year it's a bone that doesn't hurt the deer that grows back every year. Think of it like a cow that you milk right like imagine if that bone grew in the shape of the housing for a game controller or grew in the shape of the spar for an ATV like the you know the why suspension neck for ATV, right? Why are we making that thing out of
steel? Which fine I understand why we're making out of stamped steel now because nobody's bred the deer to be like ATV deer or whatever. Like, imagine if we had just, you know, 10 generations of breeding imagine like think about how much pig you know the different pigs that we eat when you see a pig in A video about pigs and about agricultural hogs versus wild boars that you see at the zoo. The difference between those the physical differences, imagine the physical differences we could make possible in animals like these, and the the structural objects we could get from them. And
when we think about those kinds of
things, we need to think about the tools we're using to do those. Now, there's plenty of actual fabrication tools that we use. But I'm thinking about other kinds of tools that have not yet been democratized. And I know that Cory Doctorow who's speaking at the conference has done some work thinking about what are ways that
that that the, the open
sourcing of fabrication tools, not necessarily 3d printers, but he's done a lot of stuff especially walk away. They do a lot of like bio reactor stuff. I mean, he doesn't talk about it very much of like, how would people actually do it but I think it's I think it's really important to, you know, read books like these and then really think about, well what would I do with a bioreactor at my house right. And so there are people that are working on open source bio reactors bioreactor, by the way is sort of like a, like a raised bed garden for for like a yeast, or maybe you could make beer with it. But you can also make like a, if you needed an enzyme that you genetically modified a yeast to produce, and then you need to grow a bunch of that yeast so that you accumulate a bunch of the enzyme. Or if you had a protein that was a, maybe it was like a fluorescent protein or something like that. And you you inserted it with CRISPR into some yeast or bacterium, and then you need to grow a bunch of that Easter bacterium. That's what this thing does. It's a it's an appliance that amplifies the the presence of a culture So it's super important for so many things in microbiology but it is especially important for using biotech to produce bulk materials because you need to make a lot of the thing and so this this open bio economy these open economy guys are awesome and they're they're super successful in Shuttleworth funded and everything but they're they're doing really cool work and they're doing a great job publishing their stuff. And so definitely check them out. I would also say we don't necessarily need the very high end computerized stuff in a lot of cases we need people doing selection for similarly like the plant breeding stuff for these kind of molecular knives. So if you if you are someone who makes your own miso or your own kind of Koji altered proteins, whether those are meats or pickles, you know that Koji varies the different kinds of code, the substrate is grown on whatever this stuff, it matters how it's made. And I can imagine other kinds of Koji or other kinds of, you know, maybe not coding, maybe these are other kinds of Aspergillus that are not for eating, but they are for treating wood to make it darkened or to make it flexible or to make it whatever, and you could grow a mushroom that was dead. And then soak the wood in that thing exactly the way that you're doing, you know, this Koji is not alive this this particular stuff comes freeze dried, it's not. It's already been grown out and then sort of deactivated and so the mold is not going to grow anymore, but
and imagine if you could