Substances regulate the “internal” infrastructures of the biosphere, forming a direct interface between biological life and technology. The last century saw a steep uptick in their use and optimization as biotechnical instruments. These more refined forms of immunizers, hormonal disruptors and enhancers, plant and insect modifiers, and the like have woven the endocrine, nervous, immune, and neurological systems of biological organisms into the fabric of the technosphere—or perhaps the other way around. This dossier explores the biotechnical infrastructures that increasingly organize and maintain the inner biochemical life on Earth.
Technical metabolism defines the technosphere’s actual extent: wherever inputs of food and fuel and the corresponding outflows of wastes and emissions are palpable, there is the technosphere at work. How can the techno-metabolic system curb its almost insatiable appetite for resources and energy? This dossier explores these questions in light of how technological metabolisms are built and how they maintain themselves through dynamic networks that draw together technological, biogeochemical, and computational systems.