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Work

"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
- Charles Stross

Fabricow  
  Cattle and other creatures that create gene-designed biomachinery in their wombs.  

A fabricow might also produce complex synthetic chemicals instead of milk. Poor women might do this as well.

It annoyed Io's best friend to give birth to a four-kilo cylinder of tightly wound, medium grade, placental solvent filters.

For five long months Perseph had kept to a diet free of sugar, sniff, or tobac well, almost free. The final ten weeks she'd spent waddling around in the bedouin drapery fashion decreed for pieceworkers this year. And all that for maybe two thousand Eurodollars worth of industrial sieves little better than a fabricow might produce!

Perseph was really ticked.

Outwardly, Io made all the right sympathetic sounds, though actually she had little use for her friend's anger. It had been Perseph's choice to hire her womb to a freelance codder of dubious pedigree, without even vetting him through an agent...

Twenty-four hours a day, lorries pulled out from the milking sheds and parturition barns, carrying bulk loads of gene-designed oils, polymers, and industrial membranes. The mass production of specially bred fabricows dwarfed the output of smalltime contractors like Perseph or Io. Rumour had it ICI housed their pampered creatures here on the south bank to intimidate the pieceworkers living in derelict marinas and towering co-op houseboats nearby.

If so, the cattle yards had an effect on Io opposite to that intended. They boosted her morale, reminding her that there were still some things neither animals nor machines could do as well as a human craftswoman. No fabricow would ever produce wares as fine as hers!

From Piecework, by David Brin.
Published by Not Known in 1990
Additional resources -

This piece of exposition from the story illustrates another use of this technology:

Today, gene-tailored microbes refine gold and other vital elements directly from sea water. Organic solvents, once unbelievably dumped into sensitive watersheds by shortsighted businessmen, are now recycled through filters grown specially for the purpose by pampered, well-fed fabricows. And these same animals' modified milk glands produce lubricants to replace long-vanished petroleum oil in our vehicles. In this way we make use of efficient fabrication methods evolved over billions of years by Nature herself.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Piecework
  More Ideas and Technology by David Brin
  Tech news articles related to Piecework
  Tech news articles related to works by David Brin

Fabricow-related news articles:
  - Pharm Animals - Engineered Goat Makes Drugs In Milk

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