Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe and Contribute to:


Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you

Alan Watts by South Park creators (All in one in HD)

Prototype

The Singularity - feat. Ray Kurzweil & Alex Jones

Self Absorption

Wage Slavery and Sweatshops as Free Enterprise?


ieet books

Virtually Human: The Promise—-and the Peril—-of Digital Immortality
Author
Martine Rothblatt


comments

instamatic on 'Wage Slavery and Sweatshops as Free Enterprise?' (Dec 19, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 18, 2014)

CygnusX1 on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 17, 2014)

instamatic on 'Four questions for Social Futurists, and others' (Dec 17, 2014)

Jessie Henshaw on 'Defining “Benevolence” in the context of Safe AI' (Dec 16, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Enframing the Flesh: Heidegger, Transhumanism, and the Body as “Standing Reserve”

Moral Enhancement and Political Realism

Intelligent Technologies and Lost Life

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


Review of Michio Kaku’s, Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century
Dec 15, 2014
(9447) Hits
(0) Comments

What Will Life Be Like Inside A Computer?
Dec 7, 2014
(8318) Hits
(0) Comments

Bitcoin and Science: DNA is the Original Decentralized System
Nov 24, 2014
(7821) Hits
(0) Comments

Brain, Mind, and the Structure of Reality
Nov 21, 2014
(5434) Hits
(0) Comments



IEET > Security > Biosecurity > Eco-gov > Life > Access > Enablement > Innovation > Implants > Health > Vision > Bioculture > Futurism > Technoprogressivism > Contributors > Dick Pelletier

Print Email permalink (1) Comments (9678) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


Synthetic life: its Wonders could Revolutionize our Lives


Dick Pelletier
By Dick Pelletier
Positive Futurist

Posted: Sep 8, 2012

Say goodbye to global warming, toxic waste, and dependency on fossil fuels, and get ready to enjoy perfect health with exotic drugs that could one day cure most diseases and extend lifespan indefinitely.

These are just some of the possibilities researchers envision as they attempt to copy how nature gathers non-living matter and transforms it into life.

Life is generally not thought of as being mechanical, but in its basic definition, a cell is a miniature machine that rearranges non-living atoms to create parts that bring those atoms to life.

In 2010, biologist entrepreneur Craig Venter and his team created the world’s first synthetic life form; a cell programmed with artificial computer-generated DNA that promises an incredible array of benefits for the world. Current progress and future of the technology is explained in the 13-min. 60 Minutes video below:

Venter said the achievement heralds the dawn of an era where new life is made to benefit humanity, starting with bacteria that churn out biofuels, soak up carbon dioxide from the air and make vaccines.
Other benefits could include designing new strains of bacteria that consume cholesterol and other dangerous substances in our bodies. We could even create protective bacteria that would seek out, attack, and destroy dangerous microbes that cause so much human misery and death.

Though most people believe this technology will provide unlimited commercial and medical benefits, others worry about possible runaway dangers, along with ethical and moral issues of human-made life.
“It’s certainly true we are tinkering with something very powerful here,” says Steen Rasmussen of the NASA-supported Protocell project; “but when you think about it,” he added, “there’s no difference in what we’re doing here and what humans did when we invented fire, designed the transistor and split the atom.”

Naysayers are concerned though; they say this technology could lead to unpredictable dangers.
For example, an artificial species created in the lab, might not obey the rules of the natural world. After all, lifeforms on Earth have evolved over three billion years, with a myriad of competing species sharing an increasingly crowded planet, all of which has guided intelligent life to its current dominant position.

It’s possible to imagine a synthetic microbe going on the rampage, perhaps wiping out all of the world’s crop plants, or worse; humanity itself could be targeted for extinction. Venter agrees that the technology requires thorough scrutiny and oversight, but he maintains that the benefits are too great to ignore.

Could artificial lifeforms ever run amok and destroy our world? “When these things are created, they are so weak, we’re lucky if they remain alive for an hour in the lab,” says Mark Bedau, COO of ProtoLife in Venice, Italy. Breaking out and taking over the world – never in our wildest imagination could this happen.

However, conservatives see still another issue to be resolved. Synthetic biology challenges our most cherished notions of the meaning of life. Is life sacred, or has it been reduced to a formula in a computer.

In another synthetic life research project, Harvard Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak predicts they will produce a complete cellular system by 2015. Once this happens, Szostak says, Darwinian evolution will take over, revealing a more precise picture of how modern cells arose from their simpler ancestors.

This knowledge will help scientists understand how humans evolved in the past, and provide guidance towards a future human evolution driven, not by nature, but by tomorrow’s synthetic life technologies.
We will see tiny self-reproducing factories, disease-killing machines, and exotic creations performing many useful functions. Experts believe that by 2020, synthetic life creations could eliminate, or make manageable, nearly all human sicknesses, including most of today’s dreaded age-related diseases.

The benefits of this technology are limited only by our imagination. Positive futurists believe that by 2030 or before, human-made life forms could provide everyone with an affordable, ageless and forever healthy body fashioned from newly-created ‘designer genes.’ Welcome to the future of synthetic life.


Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
Print Email permalink (1) Comments (9679) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


Ever since I first heard of Dr. Venter in 2010 he has become one of my heros, in many ways because I can relate to him in everything except his dislike of school. He went to a community college and became a synthetic biologist, I’m starting out at a community college and intend to get my doctorate and be a college professor in synthetic biology. Dr. Venter was the man who inspired me to get into the field of synthetic biology, I have known for nearly a decade(7th grade) that I want to be a teacher and scientist, I have just spent the past 7 years ironing out the details.





YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Cheetah Robot

Previous entry: Can Technology Help Us Put an End to Animal Experimentation?

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
56 Daleville School Rd., Willington CT 06279 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376