Sunday, January 11, 2009

The burgeoning research culture of synthetic biology demystified:

(Hat tip to Grinding.)


Intense said...

Let's see: The video clip notes a bacteria that has been genetically modified to consume plastic waste in landfills (most plastics are based on oil, btw). Another vidbit covers genetically altered bacteria being developed that uses sunlight as energy to convert water to biofuel. DIY synthetic biology by high school and college students. A contest to compete for prizes for the best "biological machines" using bacteria and virii as substrate platforms.

Biological organisms both reproduce, and mutate. And migrate in the most unexpected ways. Could this lead to mutated synthetic bio forms that consume oil as a terrorist weapon or that convert water via sunlight to biofuel breakdown products like hydrogen? And if someone puts sufficient quantities of the latter in your local reservoir or perhaps, say, the ocean? Those are just two out of unknown thousands of radically scary prospects with synthetic biology here.

I see some real potential trouble ahead with biohacking applications; I guess we just don't have enough artificial existential threats already. Boy, ain't technology wonderful?

Mac said...

Your fears are nothing if not well-founded. Still, I can't help but see some good come of this. Whether that good is eclipsed by the bad is the issue at hand.