Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Man-Made Life: Only 3 to 10 Years Away

Of course we will be inundated with cries of Who are you to play God, but nevertheless, man will create a completely new form of life in the lab, probably within 3 to 10 years. So says a recent report on
WASHINGTON (AP) - Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer.

Experts expect an announcement within three to 10 years from someone in the now little-known field of "wet artificial life."

"It's going to be a big deal and everybody's going to know about it," said Mark Bedau, chief operating officer of ProtoLife of Venice, Italy, one of those in the race. "We're talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways—in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict."

That first cell of synthetic life—made from the basic chemicals in DNA—may not seem like much to non-scientists. For one thing, you'll have to look in a microscope to see it.

"Creating protocells has the potential to shed new light on our place in the universe," Bedau said. "This will remove one of the few fundamental mysteries about creation in the universe and our role."

And several scientists believe man-made life forms will one day offer the potential for solving a variety of problems, from fighting diseases to locking up greenhouse gases to eating toxic waste.
When this announcement is made, unless there are a few equally groundbreaking developments occurring between now and then, I expect our public to begin to pay attention to the accelerating pace of technological progress. Will that be the beginning of a fierce, and perhaps violent debate over where we are headed? We may soon find out the answer to that question.

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