Bruce Sterling does it again. Here’s an excerpt from his recent book, Tomorrow Now. This is on my list of books to buy…

…You’re just a normal person in a biotech world. You are not some grand chrome-dome master of biotech–no single mind can ever master such a broad field. Biotech is not even your personal line of work; you just live there. Your lawn is aswarm with living things because of social pressure from your neighbors. A mowed lawn is a scandal; you wouldn’t subject the neighborhood to such a sight any more than you’d shave your children’s heads to eradicate lice. You don’t go out there and garden it, either. The lawn tools know more about plants than you do. And they work by themselves. It’s a city lawn, not a wilderness. It’s autogardening. The “wild” animals living in it don’t know they are under surveillance.

…Your bathroom cabinet is full of unguents, greases, and perfumes. There are some pills in there, but most of them do not contain drugs. Instead, they contain living, domesticated organisms that make drugs while living inside you. Some of the “pills” are cameras, with tiny sensors and onboard processing. Nothing in your medicine cabinet is sterile, not even the bandages. Modern bandages contain living organisms that are good for wounds.

“Sterility” is what people do need when they don’t know what’s happening on a microbial level. In a biotech world, sterility is a confession of ignorance. It’s a tactic of desperation.

…You’re into germs because germs are into you. No man ever walks alone. Every human adult carries about two pounds of living bacteria, or about a hundred trillion nonhuman cells. This is entirely normal and good. It’s something you understand about the real world that twentieth-century people did not see and could not perceive. They had this crude, desperate insight they called “sanitation,” while you possess a genuine insight and a hands-on technical mastery of that situation. Unlike those blind primitives, you walk your seething Earth in an aware, fully engaged, progressive, civilized fashion. You swarm inside and out with microbes, and it’s good for you. You recognize and celebrate this. People chat about their germs over coffee – it’s like comparing perfumes. In your world, germs are the perfumes. Anyone who smells bad is an utter ignoramus.