Natsai’s 2017 TED Talk “The fashion industry has a pollution problem, can biology fix it?” gave us a glimpse into how synthetic biology coupled with design and craft could open up a new world of low-impact high performance materials. Developed and screened initially as part of the TED Salon & Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Impact event, her new talk “Possible futures from the intersection of nature, tech and society”, focuses on the urgent need to create new and integrated design frameworks for more equitable biotechnology futures.
In a world upended by COVID-19, never has the intersection of biology, technology and society been more tangible. In her talk, Natsai illustrates how the moment we are living through offers stark insight into the paradox of the promise of innovation through biotechnology, against the realities of underlying socio-economic structural factors left unchanged.
Natsai addresses key structural limitations of consumer biotechnology that prevent it from being a truly transformative force to enable the futures we now need. She places emphasis on foregrounding value aligned to values, and for the biotechnology industry to upstream design not simply to materialise and sell products, but for design’s capacity to contend with the underlying systems that determine how benefits and risks are distributed.
By showcasing some of our work at Faber Futures, as well as drawing on examples from across the field of biotechnology including the Open Bioeconomy Lab, Microbyre, Central Saint Martins, Natsai highlights how critical an intersectional approach to problem solving is for the design of, with or from biology.
We hope the ideas explored in this talk inspire new enquiries, dialogues and projects within your own community. If you’d like to explore them further with us, please contact us, we’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, please feel free to share the talk far and wide, follow us on Instagram, and Linkedin, and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with our thinking and doing!
And a final word of thanks to the TED team of producers and curators we worked with to develop, shoot and deliver this talk remotely from Natsai’s kitchen! Under these challenging times they’ve remarkably found a way to continue to share ideas worth spreading while keeping the joy and solidarity of the experience intact. Thank you for making the seemingly impossible possible!