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‘You will not crave for junk food anymore’ – a story of nanorobots

During the third Sparks residency at the Ars Electronica Futurelab, Jakob and Lea Illera bridge the gap between science-fiction and everyday life by developing the idea of nanorobots able to block the appetite for unhealthy food, exploring further the relationship between robots and humans.

Jakob and Lea always seem to have complementary views on what the future will look like for humankind. Lea is fascinated by cyborgs and the idea of human beings and machines interacting to improve our everyday life. Building on his companion’s reflections, Jakob imagines a future where medical treatments will be delivered within our bodies, with help of technological devices which keep getting smaller and smaller. Thus emerged from these bold visions the idea of nanorobots inside our body as one step further to bring science-fiction into everyday life.

The aim of these nanorobots, playfully named BeBots, is to prevent or treat obesity by inoculating in the brain the idea of a healthier nutrition. Once entered the bloodstream, the BeBots function as messengers to the brain in order to block the appetite for unhealthy food. To help patients overcome the fear of ingesting foreign bodies, the two designers created a spray that works as a nasal decongestant and through which the BeBots are pulverised into the human body. When they stop working, the active substance is metabolised, so that no external intervention is needed to remove them. As such, the creators see no negative aspect in the use of the nanorobots.

Nevertheless this concept could create controversy notably within the food industry, since the use of nanorobots would thwart industrial food corporations’ aim for profit maximization by the use of potentially unhealthy cheaper ingredients.

Presenting this revolutionary concept as an art project integrated in the Sparks exhibition will be challenging, as the very small particles are not visible to the naked eye. Therefore the two designers imagined friendly and engaging ways to picture their product and its effects. As such, they will show the inhaler designed during the residency, the particles’ effects in the form of a pictochart depicting the BeBots in the shape of ‘cute’ beings who help improve our health. ‘The nanobots are our helpers that can reach places that are inaccessible to human beings.’ – Lea Illera said.

Interested? Read the full interview with the artists on the Ars Electronica blog.

Photo credit: Jakob & Lea Illera

Events date: 
Tuesday, April 26, 2016