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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Natasha Vita-More > Nanomechatronics Nanosystem and Mitochondria Symbosis

Natasha Vita-More
MSc, MPhil, PhD Researcher, University of Plymouth

If the symbiosis of cell evolution is a process which appears to be a constant over time, the nanocells of a nanomechatronics nanosystem might be viewed as cells which could be as necessary for our future existence as our dear mitochondria are today.

September 23rd, 2008

Nanomechatronics Nanosystem and Mitochondria Symbosis

Anyone concerned with human futures thinks about the ratio of positive vs. negative outcomes of nano-induced human enhancement, and whether or not enhancing the human physiology is truly beneficial to the individual and to society. Nevertheless, the majority of literature on the topic reports a consensus of opinion that NBIC technologies separately or together will inevitably hybridize humans. This hybridization suggests combining the blueprint code of one system of cells, with the blueprint code of another system of cells. The central issue here is that one blueprint is a biological system and the other blueprint is a electronics system. Both systems are complex, active and contain agency; however, only the human system is a living entity with consciousness.

The central issue of combining two uniquely different systems a biosystem and a nanomechatronics nanosystem is awkward. Once the mechantronics of exterior apparatus for mobility and functionality of the body seemed unwieldy and visually shocking, until design innovated visually pleasing, streamlined prosthetics. But the internal body is all wet and messy, and most of us would prefer to keep it out of sight and covered. The messiness of our bodies is hidden under our skins and many of us prefer not to go in there as it were some a discrete, private part of our anatomy that we ought not tamper with.

But Injecting the body with nanorobots may not be as invasive as one might think, especially when considering that the human physiology has always been a synthesis of more than human cells. Some of these cells are a serious and devastating danger to our own cells. These are the systems to be very afraid of because their intention is to proliferate. Other micron cells have merely landed on top of and inside our bodies and set up their own house-keeping, and still many, many other micron cells have always lived inside us and our bodies support them because they are beneficial and consequential to our well-being.

Nanomedicine's nanorobots ought to be considered belonging to the system of cells which we support. Abstractly, nanocells can be looked at as very, very distant cousins of the mitochondria which have been crucial to our evolution and the sustainability of the species.

"The idea that the eukaryotic cell is a group of microorganisms was first suggested in the 1920s by the American biologist Ivan Wallin. The endosymbiont theory of mitochondria and chloroplasts was proposed by Dr. Lynn Margulis of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1981, Margulis published Symbiosis in Cell Evolution in which she proposed that the eukaryotic cells originated as communities of interacting entities that joined together in a specific order. The prokaryote elements could have entered a host cell, perhaps as an ingested prey or as a parasite. Over time, the elements and the host could have developed a mutually beneficial interaction, later evolving in an obligatory symbiosis."[1]

Without mitochondria we would never have survived. Mitochondria, an organelle located in our eukaryotic cells, produces a source of chemical energy or ATP, and, in turn, provides our energy to stay alive. Mitochondria contains its own DNA (mtDNA), which is unlike our human nuclear DNA.

Human hybridization is the supposition that humans may, or may not, be the result of Neanderthals breeding with Cro-Magnons, and while the human may, or may not, be comprised of 1,000 species and their respective cells and DNA, only one-tenth of which contains human DNA, a human biosystem/nanomechatronics nanosystem hybrid of cells symbiosis could very well be found in the future.

If the symbiosis of cell evolution is a process which appears to be a constant over time, the nanocells of a nanomechatronics nanosystem might be viewed as cells which could be as necessary for our future existence as our dear mitochondria are today. This hybridization of combining the blueprint of a biological system and the blueprint of an electronics system seems less daunting and awkward when considering all the many different species inside of us right now and of little consequence if one's DNA has consciousness to ponder life and the other simply gets the job done.

[1] San Jose Science, Technology and Society, 2005, "Acquiring Genomes", Dr. Lynn Margulis.

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