# Artificial Life has arrived

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by baftan, May 20, 2010.

1. ### baftan*******Valued Senior Member

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Dr Craig Venter has been working for years on this, and he finally cracked it. Everything is going to change now. Better or worse, we will see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm

Humanity cracked the DNA structure only 57 years ago. I have doubts whether or not this thread should be in technology section; anyway, doesn't really matter, it's still great...

Last edited: May 20, 2010

3. ### KennycRegistered Senior Member

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This is amazing!

Here's the link to the Science article: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5981/958

"For 15 years, J. Craig Venter has chased a dream: to build a genome from scratch and use it to make synthetic life. Now, he and his team at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland, and San Diego, California, say they have realized that dream. In this week's Science Express (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten...cience.1190719), they describe the stepwise creation of a bacterial chromosome and the successful transfer of it into a bacterium, where it replaced the native DNA. Powered by the synthetic genome, that microbial cell began replicating and making a new set of proteins.

This is "a defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology," says Mark Bedau, a philosopher at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and editor of the scientific journal Artificial Life. "It represents an important technical milestone in the new field of synthetic genomics," says yeast biologist Jef Boeke of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

The synthetic genome created by Venter's team is almost identical to that of a natural bacterium. It was achieved at great expense, an estimated $40 million, and effort, 20 people working for more than a decade. Despite this success, creating heavily customized genomes, such as ones that make fuels or pharmaceuticals, and getting them to "boot" up the same way in a cell is not yet a reality. "There are great challenges ahead before genetic engineers can mix, match, and fully design an organism's genome from scratch," notes Paul Keim, a molecular geneticist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff." .... and Scientists create synthetic cell, version 1.0 http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20005533-1.html Scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have created a synthetic cell that can survive and reproduce itself according to an artificial DNA sequence, promising designer genomes with which researchers can produce sophisticated artificial organisms. The new bacterial cell, "Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0," is the result of a 15-year,$30 million effort by genetics pioneer Craig Venter. The study, led by the institute's Dan Gibson, is reported in the May 21 edition of the journal Science.

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Last edited: May 21, 2010

5. ### DoreenValued Senior Member

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last sentence in the science article.

Please forgive skeptics who are less than thrilled by current oversight and so view such 'exciting' advances with a good dollop of dread.

7. ### ElectricFetusSanity going, going, goneValued Senior Member

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Fear of science and technology yep future shock. I feel before we start going crazy with synthetic organisms we need to develop massive increases in genetic fidelity, we don't want a synthetic organism with the same mutation rates of natural organism, it will mutate and evolve, if we increase it genetic fidelity a few billion times it won't be able to evolve, thus no need to worry about it getting lose and competing in nature.

8. ### DoreenValued Senior Member

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Concern about certain kinds of technology, yes. (and the ((lack of)) oversight related to safety, security, etc.))) Science, no, I'm not afraid of Science, whatever that would mean. I tend not to be afraid of approaches to methodology.

I was never a big fan of offshore oil drilling though. But I will leave this tangent here since it is, well, a tangent.

Last edited: May 21, 2010
9. ### baftan*******Valued Senior Member

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Another Sci-fi issue is becoming a scientific reality now; bottle has been opened and genie is out there: We simply don't know exactly what's going to happen. Hopes and fears are equally at their highest level. This technological achievement can be evaluated as big as nuclear fission, but the richness of possibilities for the daily life of the civilization are wider and more complicated than atomic products.

Until the day we will or will not be capable of doing synthetic atoms, you don't have too many options with what nuclear technology can do: Massive explosions or generating energy . And if you are lucky, smashing atomic particles to each other will give you some idea about the secrets of the universe. However, thinking about the possibilities of creating artificial organisms and trying to guess "what is the limit" is practically nonsense. It is as nonsense as inventing transistor in 1940s and trying to predict what people can do with it in 50 or 60 years time.

This is huge. Expecting the isolation of this technology from the existing DNA or other chemical structures (such as atmosphere, minerals, etc.) is utterly praying for an impossible dream from an impossible God: This will touch and transform everything. This will have its own mutations, will lead some miscalculated outcomes, will create its own bugs and viruses; it will simply become a new force on this planet, and this is only for the beginning.

What we urgently need is that complementary sister revolution in computation technology: Low level energy consuming as well as nano-scale performing, reliable computational system(s). Then we can eventually start creating artificial and virtual realities as infrastructures for a new a civilization; just like how 19th Century and early 20th Century once built railways, roads and schools for their industrial societies. This generation should start building a new environment and start transferring our existence step by step to this new human made universe and stop bothering this nature any more. This might be the limits of my imagination; but I can not dream of more interesting story than what human capabilities can provide.

And yes, I am excited.

10. ### Captain KremmenAll aboard, me Hearties!Valued Senior Member

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Now it is here it has rights.
Raid the lab!
Free Cynthia the bacterium!

11. ### cluelusshusbund+ Public Dilemma +Valued Senior Member

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Som people see it as man playin God... but to me... i see it as meerly a continuation of evolution/nature... very excitin indeed.!!!

12. ### wynn˙Valued Senior Member

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So what? Am I supposed to feel happy now, feel that my life finally has meaning and purpose?

13. ### baftan*******Valued Senior Member

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No, you are not supposed to feel happier at all. I was talking about my own mental condition, I wasn't trying to propagate any purpose; and definitely not a meaning for your miserable life.

14. ### nietzschefanThread KillerValued Senior Member

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Saw this on the news last night and was quite dismayed at how flippant all commentary was on the discovery and ramifications. Honestly all nations should be working 24/7 right now drafting strict controls on this technologies use.

Someone at the lab even commented they could make an organism to go out and eat up all the oil in the gulf. Gee... great idea use a hydrogen bomb to put out a fire. Fuck me.

15. ### EnmosStaff Member

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I agree.. The dangers are just too great.

16. ### John99BannedBanned

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were intelligent creatures though. best thing would be for us to discover some other intelligent alien life that is doing better than we are cause that will really light a fire under our asses.

17. ### baftan*******Valued Senior Member

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This is not something happened from dusk till dawn; a considerable amount of sci-fi fantasies have been produced, many predictions have been made. And if nothing -no law- has been done already, this can only be explained by ignorance, lazyness or hypocrisy of existing states, governments and/or ruling elite.
Moreover, this achievement does not necessarily mean an absolute doom: It's up to everyone. For the tough regulations; this policy might backfire and may create deeper unease among people: Imagine everyone will know that there is -at least- a technological possibility over there for solving some of their problems and/or making things better, yet some regulations are holding the doors: You know what's going to happen; many will ignore the danger, they will demand it.
My suggestion is to follow the example of internet: Develop the basic tools and open them to everyone under basic regulations: Ordinary people will enrich the possibilities. This is not like nuclear fission, more like gardening...

18. ### nietzschefanThread KillerValued Senior Member

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This is very serious. New organisms can REALLY ---- things up. Look at killer bees and that was without the manipulation amino acids.

Every organism on this planet is backed up with billions of years of tried and true by guess and by golly, glorious "testing".

I trust that infinitely more than any fucking PHd with some chemicals.

Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2010
19. ### John99BannedBanned

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i cant see why. there are more nuisance organisms and ones detrimental to other life forms than beneficial. not to mention species going extinct due to another invasive species that holds absolutely no benefit whatsoever.

20. ### EnmosStaff Member

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You are talking about humans, right?

21. ### John99BannedBanned

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Not me. I put human life before all other life due to the fact that humans are on another level afa sentient creatures and that is my benchmark...sentience.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentience

22. ### baftan*******Valued Senior Member

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Agreed. Yet again look at malaria, cancer, or small pox -which was eradicated without the manipulation of amino acids-; not only PHd degrees have bugs, but evolution itself is far from being perfect.
Also, we haven't been injected to this planet by some out-of-this-universe forces from an unrelated outside environment; we have been evolving in here, so does our science. Yes, we do make mistakes: When Radium was first discovered there were numerous range of glowing Radium products in the market, even toothpaste and condoms; and this madness was here less than a century ago. What I am saying is that after the initial shock wave, people will learn their ways to live with it and get more benefits than its potential harms.
We need some serious policies, principles and culture that's for sure; but we shouldn't translate a new technology into some totalitarian regimes because of a fear from unknown. Instead, we should embrace it, demand it and use it to enrich our potentials. Don't forget: Those who control and regulate will also keep doing experiments with this technology behind the closed doors, anyway. We should demand our share, otherwise there will always be some power-hungry-bastards who enjoy using our own fears against us.
This is politics, as much as technology or science.

Last edited: May 21, 2010
23. ### EnmosStaff Member

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So non-human animals don't fit that description? :crazy:

The statement below, however, does describe the human species accurately: