biohacker
(BY.oh.hak.ur) n. A hobbyist who tinkers with DNA and other aspects of genetics. Also: bio-hacker.
biohack n., v.
biohackerdom n.

Example Citations:
Robotics is hardly the only emergent industry that can expect the embrace of the techno-enthusiast. Maybe bathtub biotech will be next to capture the mindshare of the techie tinkerers. Maybe bioinformatics and the diffusion of genetic engineering technologies and techniques will inspire a new generation of bio-hackers. Certainly the technologies are there for those inclined to genetically edit their plants or pets. Maybe a mouse or E. coli genome becomes the next operating system for hobbyists to profitably twiddle. Perhaps this decade will bring a Linus Torvalds or Bill Gates of bio-hackerdom—a hobbyist-turned-entrepreneur who can simultaneously innovate and market his or her DNA-driven ideas.
—Michael Schrage, "," Technology Review, June 2003

Some speculate a "biohacker" — the equivalent of a computer hacker seeking thrills rather than impact — could be behind anthrax letters. Derya Unutmaz, an immunologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., who maintains the biohackers.com Web site, will change the name to biodecoder.com because of the "negative image of the name hacker."
—Gerald F. Seib, "Biohack attack?," The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2001

Earliest Citation:
With the insistent diffusion of biotechnology, Rogers believes, a technology subculture could grow around DNA just as one did for silicon and software. He wryly notes that when the news media discovered computer hackers, "people went into a state of alarm. There were movies about hackers. Perhaps in a few years there will be movies about [bio-hackers] creating Frankensteinian monsters." ...

But eventually society will have to confront the prospect of widespread diffusion. One possible response is regulation: Forbid biotech equipment outside licensed laboratories. (Which would be about as successful as trying to make possession of a personal computer and a modem in the hands of anyone under 21 a crime.) Another is awareness: The assumption that anyone smart enough to be a biohacker is smart enough to have a respect for life.

The truly frightening aspect of this technology isn't that the occasional outlaw will emerge. It's that society's beliefs about the nature of life will be so fragmented and confused that there will be no ethic for bio-hackers to emulate. In which case, all bets are off.
—Michael Schrage, "Playing God in Your Basement," The Washington Post, January 31, 1988

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