>Is Artificial Life a step too far?

>Dr Venter (along with a team of others in Maryland USA) has realised a scientific breakthrough of the kind our great-grandchildren may well be reading about in school. He created a new set of DNA from their chemical elements, and then succesfully inserted them into living cells, thereby creating what many describe as a new life form! This new life has succesfully duplicated billions of times already and is a stable life form.

There will most likely be many implications of this discovery, but will they be good or bad? Will Venter be awared a Nobel Prize for developing the technology that triggers a new industrial revolution, or will he be known as the man who created the technology to build the Earth’s most deadly weapons?

For more details see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2010/05/100521_synthetic_life_nh_sl.shtml

2 comments

  • >Yeah Venter's a strange one.Personally i don't really accept it as synthetic when he used a host cell that was organic. Biologists had already been tweaking DNA and inserting it into host cells, so Venter is only a small step along.But synthetic life will come about, along with all possibilities via technology. I don't see it as anything different from what has come before.Theeconomist article (i'm not a fan of them by the way, many of their articles are pretty crap) said that it throws up the possibility of hackers releasing virus etc, in the same way that computer virus' have spread.They missed a large point in that its far less likely a hacker will create a virus that he himself is susceptible to, that it is for them to create a computer virus which they can easily guard against.Other people are speculating that it will allow us to do amazing things in the future. I can't see it. It's much easier to make tweaks to existing dna rather than create something from scratch when we don't know how all the components affect an outcome.I'm pretty blasé about this 'breakthrough' and think it will be forgotten by tomorrow.Will our grandchildren be learning about it in their text books? only if they have shit text books.

  • >This is a big step. Yes scientists have created DNA before. But this is the first time a set of DNA, that has been created from scratch, has been inserted into a cell and managed to reproduce itself.In one sense I agree that this is not entirely new. But nothing is. So far as science is currently able to tell human beings are not able to create something wholly new. We usually get inspiration from something else. But every so often someone creates something that is more of a jump than anything else in the time. I think this is one of those things.Do you remember learning that the Spinning Jenny was created in 1764 and that it was an important improvement on the spinning wheel in the history of the Industrial Revolution? Most people don't of course, but it is in the history books as one important event of the Industrial Revolution.I think that this invention will be referred to in a similar manner by historians. But it will not be labelled as part of a second Industrial Revolution as Venter thinks. It will be labelled as part of the technological revolution that we are living through.Just to prove that we are living in a technological revolution the EATR robot was announced on the same day. This robot is incredibly advanced. It can consume wood, plants and organic matter to power itself. It's a military invention, and if you combine it with remote control technology you could have an army of robots (the robot technology is designed so that it could be used with a wide range of weapons technologies) that can survive indefinitely without any need for personnel to go and recharge them.

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