Look. When this guy thinks maybe biohacking has gone too far, you know biohacking has gone too far.
Zayner is no stranger to stunts in biohacking—loosely defined as experiments, often on the self, that take place outside of traditional lab spaces. You might say he invented their latest incarnation: He’s sterilized his body to “transplant” his entire microbiome in front of a reporter. He’s squabbled with the FDA about selling a kit to make glow-in-the-dark beer. He’s extensively documented attempts to genetically engineer the color of his skin. And most notoriously, he injected his arm with DNA encoding for CRISPR that could theoretically enhance his muscles—in between taking swigs of Scotch at a live-streamed event during an October conference. (Experts say—and even Zayner himself in the live-stream conceded—it’s unlikely to work.)
Josiah Zayner has done lots of stupid stunts. Now he calls himself a “social activist”, which apparently in his mind means someone who does irresponsible and ineffective stunts to provoke the public to be similarly irresponsible. Now he’s waking up, a little bit, to what he’s been doing.
I didn’t realize what my actions could result in. I’m just starting to come to grips with that.
Biology is really, really complicated, minor changes can have radical consequences, and we don’t understand 90% of it. OK, 95%. Maybe 99%. When people’s lives are at stake, you poke at it very, very cautiously, because you don’t know what kind of cascading systems failure you’re going to trigger. The system does exhibit a lot of resilience that helps maintain equilibrium, which means these showboats can play games that mostly do nothing, giving the misleading idea that they’re harmless, but all it takes is one accident to set everyone back. Responsibility is an important concept in science.