Animals As Life Support Machines: Is That Technomimicry?
A young designer from the Royal College of Art in London, Revital Cohen, described a world in which animals might replace the machines and medical devices keeping many humans alive. She spoke to an audience attending the Expo, Design Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa at the end of February. Her presentation was about her "Life Support Project."
Ms. Cohen's proposal is to use transgenic animals, those who are genetically designed for certain purposes, for food or sport or as medical subjects, as life support for humans with disabling conditions after the animals retire from their original purposes.
One example Ms. Cohen discussed was the use of greyhounds as a possible respiratory assistance dogs. As a greyhound bred to race is trained to chases a lure, spends up to five years chasing that lure, and is then generally euthanized, why not train the dog as a respiratory assistant instead of killing the dog? Citing that a greyhound with his large chest and need for exercise is well suited to this job, the dog would also not succumb to separation anxiety because he would be a constant companion to the person depending on him for his life.
Another possibility Ms. Cohen proposed is to use a sheep as a "dialysis machine," first designing a sheep for that purpose , and then connecting the sheep to a patient suffering from kidney failure via "blood lines" to the patient. The sheep's kidney would cleanse the blood, urinating its toxins, and return the cleansed blood to the patient.
Ms. Cohen's primary goal seems to be to keep both the patient and animal alive in the case of the greyhound, but mostly to provide the patient with companionship in the case of the sheep, as the sheep would have to be transgened specifically for the job of "dialysis machine."
It's the opposite of biomimicry. Shall we call it technomimicry?
What are your thoughts about Ms. Cohen's Life Support Project?
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