146

Is it love if I want to be you,
want to inhale DNA rings when we kiss,
when we conjugate?
Am I obsessed if I want you to express yourself
in me?

After studying bio-engineering at an undergraduate level, Sharang Biswas became fascinated by how bacteria reproduce and exchange genetic material. This story is a poetical take on bacterial conjugation, a concise explanation of which is found here. Bacteria are capable of rapid growth, but only when the conditions are right. Recently, researchers have found an increase of a protein called FtsZ is the trigger for growth in E. Coli. Several labs are investigating substances that accelerate the breakdown of FtsZ. Hopefully, some of these will be promising candidates for new antibiotics.

//Sharang Biswas’ (@sharangbiswas) two engineering degrees propelled him to attend art school. He is now a game designer, writer and artist based in New York. See his portfolio here. //

145

Flowers blossomed through what remained of my eye sockets, green-brown skin peeling off like dead leaves. Never jailbreak your chlorophyll implants.

William Shaw wrote this story inspired by the biohacking movement. While the potential benefits of augmenting the human body are potentially immense, he worries about how such technology would interact with a tech world increasingly dominated by proprietary software. Intriguingly, chlorophyll is already a substance of interest to those in the bodymod community. In 2015, grinders tested chlorophyll’s ability to augment night vision. In 2016, the Quimera Rosa collective presented a project called “Transplant“, where chlorophyll was injected in an attempt to create photosynthesising tattoos. Whatever the results, the proprietary dilemmas of body modification are something we should definitely consider. 

//William Shaw (@Will_S_7) is a tech writer by day, blogger by night. Find him online at williamshawwriter.wordpress.com//

Could dystopic scifi make us powerless?

adventure-air-aircraft-36487

Did you know that the Vault has a Patreon? I’ve just given our Patron’s exclusive early access to a new blog post! This month, I’m asking if creating dystopias based on possible disaster is worth it. Could it make the reader feel like change is hopeless? Click here to read more: Is Dystopic Sci-Fi Just Suffocating Hot Air?

 

142

Alone, I have sailed, sought and found
I am tired
Careening further still into the void, my dream of sleep is dashed
As thrusters wake

For the first time in 37 years, Voyager 1 was roused by the remote re-ignition of its thrusters by NASA to slightly alter its course. In this story, Nathaniel Darbonne re-imagines the awakening of Voyager 1, humanising it for his reader. If you feel your heartstrings pulled, this is not the first time a spaceship has been anthropomorphised – several spacecrafts have now ‘live-tweeted’ their own deaths (with the help of a human media department). What will future generations think of our compassion for inanimate spacecraft?

//Nathaniel Darbonne is a human.//

141

The district attorney’s histrionics left the audience in tears. Unimpressed, the robot juror considered the facts.

Inspired by research on how artificial intelligence will impact the way we work, writer Justin Short creates a sci-fi legal drama in Story #141. “Robots aren’t scary,” says Justin. “What’s scary is knowing your fate is in the hands of twelve humans easily swayed by emotional closing arguments.” With the launch of IBM Watson’s legal AI application, Outside Counsel Insights (OCI) in 2017, the legal industry is poised on the precipice of fast technological change. Yet, it must be asked – if we use robot’s to enforce the law, can programmers overcome their own unconscious biases to ensure the law is ethically enforced?

//Justin writes horror, sci-fi, and other stuff.  Find him online at www.justin-short.com.//

140

U.S. DECLARES EMERGENCY EXPANSION OF GUEST WORKER PROGRAM
Contracts will be offered to citizens of all Latin American nations to fill pollinator vacancies ahead of the California almond bloom.

As North American honeybee populations decline dramatically, it’s interesting to speculate how the U.S. would continue to feed itself and the rest of the world. California alone provides 80% of the world’s almond supply. China has already begun to utilize humans as crop pollinators. With immigrants supplying over half of the U.S. agricultural workforce, a reassessment of immigration policy could be the future.

//Celina Chiarello (@thecelinas) is a mother of dragons, a writer of things, and an eater of cupcakes. Checkout more of the things she writes at girldoingstuff.com.//