Bio

View of "The Thread of Red", by artist Paola Grossi Gondi, 2015. Photo from the booklet “Filo rosso / The Thread of Red”, edited by Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli. See BioTechnoPractice and Paola Grossi Gondi's Thread of Red.
View of “The Thread of Red”, by artist Paola Grossi Gondi, 2015. See BioTechnoPractice and Paola Grossi Gondi’s Thread of Red. Photo from the booklet “Filo rosso / The Thread of Red”, edited by Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli.

Bio* – the living – is the locus of complexity, of fine structural and functional multi-layered organization and integration.

As a prefix, ‘bio’ is becoming so common in different fields, like food, architecture, urban planning, clothing, informatics, robotics. This is unlikely to be a mere tribute to a largely media-oriented fashion of identifying biology as the central science of the present. Bio-related ideas play a key role in characterizing contemporary society, informatics and artificial systems, and our daily life, to the point that Bio* can be seen as exceeding the biological world, to reach the physical world, the social world, or, in the most general way, the world of phenomena.

The reference to biological organization identifies a shared need for a change in the way we look at technology. On the other hand biology makes explicit reference to technological tasks and activities recorded by words like biotechnology, bioinformatics, systems- and computational biology.

If Bio-related concepts are indeed pervasive in our society, their contribution to our understanding is not yet well understood. In a sense, while other fields of investigation (even if in a still seminal, largely unconscious and somewhat superficial way) leverage the peculiar organization principles at the basis of biological systems, biology seems to be well inside mechanistic paradigms other sciences overcame many years ago. Although the role and structure of organization have long been central to biological thinking, biology has attempted to adopt the reductionist, linear mechanistic models from physics. Great economic investments and communication success of this strategy have gone along but with only very partial success from the point of view of knowledge and understanding when dealing with complex natural dynamisms. In this sense, the by far great majority of scientific practice in life-sciences is still dominated by an essentialist way of looking at the molecular players of biological systems (genes, proteins) as intelligent agents in charge of ‘taking care’ of the global organization.