deCYPher lab: on the ethics and aesthetics of linking AI/ML & SynBio

6 Jun 2024 09:30 — 18:00

Location: Aalto Design Factory

deCYPher lab: on the ethics and aesthetics of linking AI/ML & SynBio
09:30-18:00 on Thu 6 June 2024
Design Factory, Aalto University (Puumiehenkuja 5, 02150 Espoo)


This day-long forum brings together artists, scientist and other practitioners to stimulate deeper reflection on the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) techniques and synthetic biology (synbio). With an emphasis on initiating discussion about the opportunities, risks and responsibilities in linking the power of AI/ML with synbio, and ethical and aesthetic dimensions of it, the forum highlights the value of involving artistic and critical practices in the development of this technology.

The forum is the first event in a series of activities part of Bioart Society’s deCYPher partnership project, which explores how the convergence of AI, ML and synthetic biology can go beyond traditional extraction methods of flavonoids and terpenoids. These plant compounds are used for important products, such as pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. As the current extraction is expensive and limited to just a few compounds, deCYPher’s objective is to develop a bio-based production alternative of plant secondary metabolites, which aims to ensure a regular supply in a more sustainable, economical, and efficient way.

Microbial production of plant metabolites has economic & environmental benefits over traditional extraction and chemical methods. Despite initial progress, the microbial production of oxygenated plant metabolites (OPMs) mediated by cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) is still lagging. In contrast AI and ML tools are evolving rapidly, but their use for engineering biology is still underexplored. deCYPher applies these groundbreaking AI/ML techniques to unlock the OPM molecules to society.

At the early stages of this project this forum invites critical discussion on the wider social, ecological, land, economic and political ramifications and response-abilities. At the same time it presents the different possibilities and approaches through presentations from partners in the project as well as artists working at the intersection of art, ethics, AI, ML and symbio.
deCYPher partners include: Ghent University, Wageningen University & Research, The Spanish National Research Council, Isobionics, ML6, Biofaction, Lantana, VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology), Barcelona Super-computing Center and Bioart Society.



You can also tune in via Zoom:


SCHEDULE (all times EEST)

9:30-10:00 Tea & coffee served at the Aalto Design Factory

10:00-10:15 Welcome & opening words by Bioart Society

10:15-10:45 Introduction: Transforming microbes into cell factories to produce plant metabolites by Marjan De Mey (Ghent University)

10:45-11:05 Presentation: How can AI models accelerate biotech and lifesciences by Pieter Coussement (ML6)

11:05-11:25 Lecture: CYPs for plant biochemical diversity by Katja Cankar (Wageningen University & Research)

11:25-12:00: Q&A + Discussions, moderated by Piritta Puhto (Bioart Society)


12:00-13:00 LUNCH BREAK


13:00-13:20 Presentation:Cyborg ecologies beyond the humanist imagination Cecilia Åsberg

13:20-13:40 Presentation: Convergence of Artificial Intelligence and Synthetic Biology: disillusion, predictability and surprise by Markus Schmidt

13:40-14:00 Reflection: Kiss and Ride or Follow the Cracks? –  research at the edge and between disciplines by Christina Stadlbauer

14:00-14:30 Q&A + Discussions, moderated by Chessa Adsit-Morris


14:30-14:45 BREAK


14:45-15:05 Presentation: Everything not saved will be lost by Lyndsey Walsh (speech-to-text interpretation)

15:05-15:25 Lecture: Countering Archival Fascism: Moving from Technopolitical Regimes to Technodiverse Cosmologies Ali Akbar Mehta (speech-to-text interpretation)

15:25-15:45 Presentation: Data Garden. Digital memory becomes roots, stems, leaves by Kyriaki Goni (speech-to-text interpretation)

15:45-16:15 Q&A + Discussions, moderated by Markus Schmidt (speech-to-text interpretation)


16:15-16:30 BREAK


16:30-16:50 Lecture: Science and Art, practices and collaborative endeavors by Marta De Menezes

16:50-17:10 Heat Work: Lecture Performance by Samir Bhowmik and Vishnu Vardhani

17:10-17:30 Presentation: Braiding Infrastructures for Each Other by Saša Spačal

17:30-18:00 Q&A + Discussions, moderated by Yvonne Billimore

18:00 Closing remarks