Proposal for an alternative currency.
We live in a world where the global economy is experiencing slow
growth since the US financial crisis which has exposed the unsustainable
fiscal policies many countries. Such economic climate has forced some
countries to create and adopt alternative, local currencies in order to
encourage economic growth whilst functioning in parallel with the
We also live in a world with changing perceptions of
micro-organisms. We are not only manipulating their genetic makeup but
also using the cells (and the DNA within) to be used as carriers of valuable data and materials.
Microbial Money looks at the potential role of synthetic biology in
the world of finance. Could we design micro-organisms to address issues
of modern economic downturn? Could we create an alternative, living
currency which consists of microbial ‘chassis’ that are capable of
retaining valuable genetic data, and could we design a central ‘bank’
that produces and controls such living currencies?
The project hones in on a species of diatom (T. pseudonana) and aims to
re-package the organism to be used as a living currency, and pilot
tested amongst the DIY biology community. T.
pseudonana are a hardy microbe that are tolerant to harsh environments
and can be modified to carry valuable genetic data that may code for
restriction enzymes – a set of valuable proteins that are commonly used
by molecular biologists and DIY biologists.
The main aim is not so much to directly influence or solve
economical issues within a society, but to expose unexpected
interactions between humans and microbes. Would the changing economic
and political health allow us to find a new role for micro-organisms in
our society, and what potential implications could this have?