Thursday, 21 June 2012

high-fidelity or bring me a pineapple that doesn’t sting, a bird that swims, a fish that sings

I have contributed a nominal amount to my private pension fund, an opportunist surely that blurs the limits between brooding a nest-egg and retirement supplement and high-stakes ventures that happens to management the pensions for a good portion of the American federal workforce, and so as not to encourage more reckless behaviour, I’ve kept it at the absolute minimum: one cannot contribute less than one percent and I’ve justified that much since the government matches it. Still, over the years it has amounted to a not insignificant sum that’s not readily reclaimable.
I suspected and it’s been confirmed several times over that this money-manager is gambling with people’s life-savings and that they benefited from their quasi-public status—however I didn’t suspect that they were actively hatching evil schemes for one’s money, apart from the expected trading in legitimized weapons companies, polluters and assassins. Their latest pursuit, I discovered through their advertisements (though little reporting and fact-finding is to be found supporting or otherwise questioning this image and vision) is something called synthetic biology, which is only a re-branding of terms that are waxing scary like cloning, genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms. Their promotion and prospectus implies that such research and development, which will one day triumph over Nature’s numbers and diversity, can produce bacteria to clean up industrial spills and halt disease by disabling its agents. This is a Brave New World with many goodly creatures but I can also easily imagine a genetic dystopia that failed to respect the dependencies and relations of ecology. Business has already been over-eager with introducing new crops that are untested and unsuited and have been less than forthcoming (with mounting resistance) and spent more resources on protecting patents and discrediting critics than on actual scientific research. It is one thing to make mosquitoes that don’t bite or self-cleaning beaches, but I would imagine that Nature would rebel and be less than compliant, mirroring the phenomena of drug-resistant germs created by keeping too clean. I don’t think it’s a good idea to mortgage one’s pension on such a future.