THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: GENETIC SEQUENCING, 3-D PRINTING, AND ...June 17, 2013
Take a very deep breath.
Try to relax.
In fact, you may want to chase your coffee with a shot of your favorite alcoholic beverage and then strap yourself into your chair, because this one was shared with me by M.J-S.(whom I heartily thank for bringing it to my attention), and I still find it incredible.
So why all the precautionary advice? Well, it seems that genetic sequencing, forensic art, and three-D printing are merging to create...to create... well, to create what, exactly? Before I get to that, first, you'd better read this:
Creepy or Cool? Portraits Derived From the DNA in Hair and Gum Found in Public Places Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/artscience/2013/05/creepy-or-cool-portraits-derived-from-the-dna-in-hair-and-gum-found-in-public-places/#ixzz2W8p610I3
Now, imagine you are a New York detective or perhaps an FBI special agent assigned to the newly created Cigarette Butt and Hair Follicle Detail, and after a hard day of gathering such flotsam from the streets and subways of New York City along the favored routes of the target of your investigation, you finally decide to approach the owner of the bar or grocery store your target frequents, and you place your laptop computer with its new-fangled DNA squencer program onto the counter, and say "One moment please" to the clerk or bartender. Popping your cigarette butts and hair samples into the computer, you do a quick scan, the program models your target's face, and plugging in your portable three-D latex printer, you print off a life-size mask, complete with hair, of your target's face Mission Impossible 3 style, and placing it on a model styrofoam head, you ask "Have you seen this woman?" Imagine the transformations of forensics that are coming because of these types of technologies combinations. Call it 3-d DNA-based forensic reconstruction.
Want to disseminate accurate pictures of a suspected criminal? Just visit his or her frequent haunts, gather some chewing gum samples, some cigarette butts, some hair, et voila! You can then nail 3D masks to telephone poles or, better yet, place them on store counters or in display cases at the post office under a sign that says "Have you seen this person?" or "Wanted...." You get the idea.
Imagine, too, a whole new field of archaeology. Call it Paleo-facial reconstruction, or PFR(since we seem to love abbreviations and acronyms these days). We can now remove, say, the hair follicles of JS Bach, Frederick the Great, Voltaire... you name it, and construct 3-D representations of their faces to find out, more or less accurately, what they looked like.
Imagine also a whole new field of ... oh nevermind. I'm sure you get the idea. The article asks, "Creepy or cool?" Well, for my own two cents, I'll file this one under "creepy," though, I admit, I'd really like to know what my favorites Bachs really looked like.
Try and have a good day, try not to think about this, and I'll see you on the flip side.