Can Humans Be Modified to Eat like Birds and Rabbits?

VISION: In a 2070 world of food shortages, people modify their bodies with microchips so they can eat from the bottom of the food chain and share excess nutrition with each other, reshaping global identities.

TEAM: Tung Lin, Jae Kyong Cheong, Siho Chang
SCHOOL: Parsons School of Design (2018)

The growth of the global population, and ecological damage, is already forcing people to migrate to avoid hunger. In this provocation, students from Parsons School of Design imagined the world of 2070, when food shortages are widespread. In their vision, people are implanted with microchips that allow them to digest foods only edible to other species. Because they can share nutrients amongst themselves, communities cease to be based on national borders, but on a collective nutrition system.

Individuals are connected to the nutrition network via microchips that also allow them to digest foods only edible to other species.  Thus, some people are considered “rabbits,” and eat hay, while others are “birds,” and eat bugs.

Some people are considered “rabbits,” and eat hay, others are “birds,” and eat bugs, while others are “fish” and eat algae. When a citizen consumes more than 100 percent of their recommended nutrition, they must share with those who are undernourished. Meanwhile, 30 percent of excess nutrition is gathered as taxes and redistributed to those in need. 

Rather than identifying themselves by nationality, people identify themselves by their chip type and the foods they can eat. 

“When we first presented this scenario, people judged it as a dramatic dystopia. They considered the system socialist or communist, which might be too provocative for people from a liberal society. During a time of pandemic, however, the collective control in Beyond 100% may not just be science fiction. Today, we must contemplate whether individual freedom is more significant than collective survival,” said the students.

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Cite this Article

Lin, Tung, Jae Kyong Cheong, and Siho Chang. “Can Humans Be Modified to Eat like Birds and Rabbits?” Issues in Science and Technology (January 8, 2021).