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Janet HopeDescribe your latest project.
Biobazaar explores the idea of developing and distributing all kinds of biotechnology inventions in a way that parallels the production of open source software programs such as Linux. The point of open source biotechnology would be to shore up competition in an industry (or collection of industries, since biotechnology is a broad enabling technology) that is becoming increasingly dominated by a few powerful players, with adverse consequences for ongoing innovation. Open source gives people access to the tools they need to innovate for themselves, but because software and biotechnology are so different, it's not obvious exactly how the open source approach would translate from one context to the other. Biobazaar teases out all the challenges and implications of applying open source principles in a new setting.
Part of my motivation in writing the book was to give practitioners (scientists, investors, policy makers and others) an opportunity to assess the potential of open source biotechnology in relation to their own individual circumstances. More broadly, I wanted to expose the many assumptions some justified, others not that underpin our current understanding of how technological innovation works and how best to support it. Even if you don't buy my argument that open source biotech would be both feasible and desirable in some areas even if you aren't that interested in open source or biotech per se the topic offers a vehicle for examining those assumptions in a fresh light.
I used to think it was fear of unemployment, until I spent some time pursuing a personal growth agenda (ie unemployed) and found myself spontaneously researching and writing despite the lack of any external motivation. It's weird because I find writing really difficult and painful but also kind of obsessive. I guess it's a bit like picking up a necklace and finding the beads all tangled up if I see a mess of complex, interconnected ideas I feel the need to disentangle them and lay them out as clearly as I can. But I don't pick up the necklace in the first place unless the tangle has some practical significance.
Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
Douglas Adams or Scott Adams?
What was your favorite book as a kid?
What new technology do you think may actually have the potential for making people's lives better?
What was your best subject in high school? Your worst?
What are some of the things you'd like your computer to do that it cannot now do?
Indoors, I would like to be able to interface with my computer in a variety of ways so as to minimize the physical and mental toll taken by long periods of enforced inactivity. I picture walking around talking to the computer while I do the housework, maybe manipulating 3D objects as a substitute for a keyboard and mouse when the voice method fails. I've used voice software for many years and it's great, but these sorts of technologies have a long way to go before knowledge workers are really freed from having to work hunched over a desk in a darkened room which is so bad for your health and really constrains your imagination.
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Janet Hope has published in the fields of constitutional, criminal, administrative, environmental, human rights, intellectual property law, and biotechnology regulation. She is a member of the Australian National University's Center for Governance of Knowledge and Development.