Monday, December 17, 2007

Synthetic Life: Benefit Or Disaster?

Scientists in Maryland have already built the world's first entirely handcrafted chromosome -- a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory, containing all the instructions a microbe needs to live and reproduce.
In the coming year, they hope to transplant it into a cell, where it is expected to "boot itself up," like software downloaded from the Internet, and cajole the waiting cell to do its bidding. And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction.

Some claim that these type advances will bring forth new ways to produce materials we need and want, such as hydrogen for vehicles. Others claim they will bring about the fall of man due to our inability to leave well enough alone and the potential of this falling into the hands of those with ill-intent.

You can read more here.

Some questions:
-Who will regulate such things as who is allowed to make synthetic life? How many can be made? Who is responsible for damage done by synthetic lifeforms?
-Is it wise to move forward with something like this?
-What would be a drawback to making "designer" lifeforms for things we want and need?
-Is the risk to reward ratio acceptable?
-What are your thoughts concerning the issue of synthetic lifeforms?
-Should this threaten religion in any way?
-Should rights to manufacture synthetic lifeforms be granted?

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