Genetic Futures

Alison Irvine and Andy Cavatorta

Genetic Futures is a series of speculative explorations into the future of CRISPR gene-editing technology, machine learning, and automation.

Prototype #1 was inspired by the 19th-century Jacquard loom, which was the first machine to store digital information in the form of punch cards to produce complex patterns. The Jacquard loom represents the birth of automation and is also an example of a society losing control over the effects of its technologies. This loom-inspired card punching machine generates new, potentially viable human genomes sequences and splices poetry in at potential CRISPR sites. Patterns from this data are slowly punched into thousands of feet of paper that accumulate in the world around the machine.

 Learn more about Genomic Tapestries

 



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How will genetic engineering, automation, and machine learning converge in the future?

 
Jacquard Loom-inspired punch card graphic representing genomic data and CRISPR sites.

Jacquard Loom-inspired punch card graphic representing genomic data and CRISPR sites.


 
 

Inspiration

The 19th-century Jacquard loom was the first machine to use digital information in the form of punch cards to store and produce complex patterns. Each row of punched holes corresponds to a row of a textile pattern. This method of storing information was one of the foundations of the industrial revolution and influenced the creation of modern computing.

Jacquard Loom punch cards used to store detailed pattern information for textile weaving.

Jacquard Loom punch cards used to store detailed pattern information for textile weaving.


The Data

Graphic punch card pattern generated from the first 12,000 nucleotides of Chromosome 1 of GRCh38. CRISPR sites were found by searching for the protospacer adjacent motif sequence (PAM) of “NGG.” The PAM is required for a Cas nuclease to cut and is generally found 3-4 nucleotides downstream from the cut site.

Learn More About PAM Sequences


Prototype #1

 
 
 
 

The Process

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