Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, June 29, 2007

It's a Brave New Life: Synthetic Lifeforms Are Near

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We could be only months away from the creation of "the first new form of artificial life" because of a highly significant breakthrough by scientists at the J Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland.

For the first time in human history, scientists have implanted an entire genome from one species into another, which grew and multiplied, becoming the first species in the process. So one species was transformed into another.

In the past, researchers have transplanted snips of code, but never before has the entire genome of one species been successfully implanted into another. This breakthrough opens the way for the scientists to implant a completely synthetic genome, constructed from scratch in a lab, which they expect will result in the first synthetic lifeform ever created.

But why would they want to make a new lifeform?
The scientists want to create new kinds of bacterium to make new types of bugs which can be used as green fuels to replace oil and coal, digest toxic waste or absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
This research does make some people nervous, however.
But this pioneering research also triggers unease about the limits of science and the inevitable fears about “playing god,” as well as raising the spectre that this technology could one day be abused to create a new generation of bioweapons.
At some point the researchers hope to create a basic microbe with "only the minimal set of genes needed for life," and then be able to customize the microbe for different uses by adding additional genetic code to suit the purpose.

What'll they think of next? Stay tuned.

Source article

Singularity & The Price of Rice is updated daily; the easiest way to get your daily dose is by subscribing to our news feed. Stay on top of all our updates by subscribing now via RSS or Email.