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'Artificial life' breakthrough announced by scientists


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#1 Medical Time Travel

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 05:53 PM


JCVI have announced the creation of artificial life. I have for some time expected news from this front. This is for me a day to celebrate. For the rest of the day I will cool down and think about this historic event.

http://news.bbc.co.u...nt/10132762.stm

http://www.jcvi.org/...-cell/overview/

My predictions are on track:

http://www.imminst.o...ist-t39458.html

Interesting watch:

http://www.thoughtwa...Richard-Dawkins

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Edited by Medical Time Travel, 20 May 2010 - 06:57 PM.


#2 s123

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 06:48 PM

Great news!!!!

We can nu start to put artificial chromosomes in higher organisms.

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#3 Vgamer1

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:26 PM

Awesomely powerful, but also has its dangers - like any new technology worth anything. Thanks for the news!

Edited by Vgamer1, 20 May 2010 - 07:39 PM.


#4 ken_akiba

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:01 PM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.

Edited by ken_akiba, 20 May 2010 - 08:23 PM.


#5 Vgamer1

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 09:18 PM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?

#6 treonsverdery

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 01:39 AM

Way to Go JCVI

#7 e Volution

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 01:47 AM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?

Haha my thoughts exactly, I am pretty sure NASA is still struggling for a solid definition now they are actually within reach of finding/detecting other forms of 'life'. Problem is in science we often measure things by comparing them and for life n=1.

I agree this is an monumental breakthrough. Let's not get caught up in semantics, this is nothing short of incredible, and I believe historically will be viewed as a seminal moment. I understand Craig Venter's ultimate goal is to create a synthetic organism to generate the cleanest energy yet, a bacteria (although I guess we may not be able to call it that!) that essentially photosynthesis energy into a form we can use. Folly of speculative prediction aside, how far away do you guys think we are from achieving this? 5? 10? 30? 50? edit: OP believes it will be 5 years (2015).

Edited by icantgoforthat, 21 May 2010 - 01:51 AM.


#8 niner

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 02:41 AM

This is a pretty big deal. Now that they have the technology working, they can start tinkering with the genome. More than just tinkering, really; wholesale swapping in and out and modification of different enzymes, promoters, etc. Potentially transformational technology, but it will need to be tightly controlled. There will eventually exist the possibility of creating something extremely dangerous; maybe to humans, maybe to the whole biosphere. You can expect to see the bioethicists out in force. (Paging Art Caplan...) Expect the followers of Mr. Ludd to go nuts. I have to hand it to Craig Venter. He kicked ass on the human genome, has done some impressive analysis of the collective genome of marine bacteria, and now this.

#9 mike250

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:00 AM

Incoming ban on all creation of "synthetic life". Or perhaps that will have to wait until the Republicans gain control.

#10 Cameron

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:41 AM

Incoming ban on all creation of "synthetic life". Or perhaps that will have to wait until the Republicans gain control.


I like the quote on the computer being the parent.

BTW, the days of old mammals being able to oppose progress are numbered.

#11 e Volution

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 03:35 PM

And just when you thought this news couldn't get any better :-D Hot off the Press and full of science

TED in the Field: Craig Venter unveils "synthetic life"
Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they've created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science.
http://www.ted.com/t...hetic_life.html

Edited by icantgoforthat, 21 May 2010 - 03:54 PM.


#12 ken_akiba

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 04:53 PM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?


Granted, there is dispute on the definition of life, however in this case, the dispute is irrelevant since what they have achieved is assembling a new life form or an organism with pre-existing life parts, so I do not see how one can call it a creation of life.
There is a more suitable description to their achievenet: Genome Transplant(ation).

No question it is an amazing achievment, though I predict the new organism will undergo myriad of 'genetic defects' problems. Clones too, in theory should not exibit genetic defects, but they always do and we do not know why. I only hope the genetic defects will not go rampant....

Edited by ken_akiba, 21 May 2010 - 04:56 PM.


#13 valkyrie_ice

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 06:42 PM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?


Granted, there is dispute on the definition of life, however in this case, the dispute is irrelevant since what they have achieved is assembling a new life form or an organism with pre-existing life parts, so I do not see how one can call it a creation of life.
There is a more suitable description to their achievenet: Genome Transplant(ation).

No question it is an amazing achievment, though I predict the new organism will undergo myriad of 'genetic defects' problems. Clones too, in theory should not exibit genetic defects, but they always do and we do not know why. I only hope the genetic defects will not go rampant....



Look at it this way Ken.

DNA is the software that runs the hardware.

Before, we always had to use prexisting code.

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere. additionally, we have proven that there is NOTHING MYSTICAL ABOUT THAT CODE! I.E. God does not empower DNA, it's JUST CODE.

We already know that cells are just machines. We now know that the code is just code. God has been eliminated from the equation. The Deterministic Universe has hammered another nail in the coffin of religious superstition.

#14 rwac

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:28 PM

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere.


But they didn't write the code. It was copied from an existing genome.

We've merely proved that we can copy code from one machine to another.

#15 valkyrie_ice

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:36 PM

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere.


But they didn't write the code. It was copied from an existing genome.

We've merely proved that we can copy code from one machine to another.


Incorrect. It was done using DNA manufactured by machine. Yes it manufactured a copy of existing DNA, but it was wholly artificial DNA.

#16 Luna

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:39 PM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?


Granted, there is dispute on the definition of life, however in this case, the dispute is irrelevant since what they have achieved is assembling a new life form or an organism with pre-existing life parts, so I do not see how one can call it a creation of life.
There is a more suitable description to their achievenet: Genome Transplant(ation).

No question it is an amazing achievment, though I predict the new organism will undergo myriad of 'genetic defects' problems. Clones too, in theory should not exibit genetic defects, but they always do and we do not know why. I only hope the genetic defects will not go rampant....



Look at it this way Ken.

DNA is the software that runs the hardware.

Before, we always had to use prexisting code.

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere. additionally, we have proven that there is NOTHING MYSTICAL ABOUT THAT CODE! I.E. God does not empower DNA, it's JUST CODE.

We already know that cells are just machines. We now know that the code is just code. God has been eliminated from the equation. The Deterministic Universe has hammered another nail in the coffin of religious superstition.


We already knew that code is just code and nothing mystical about it..

And.. what Ken is saying is that we didn't create new code, we put in a code that of another bacteria, what we did is just transformation. It's still not man-made code.

All we did is Delete, copy, paste.

Delete Bacteria1 DNA, Copy Bacteria2 DNA, Paste into Bacteria1.

The problem is that the code we pasted is still not ours, not even modified, it's just a complete genome of another existing bacteria.

#17 chris w

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 07:54 PM

BTW, the days of old mammals being able to oppose progress are numbered.


Gee, Cameron, that's a harsh way to put it, but....LETS HOPE SO :-D. Venter is awesome.

Edited by chris w, 21 May 2010 - 07:55 PM.


#18 niner

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 04:22 AM

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere.

But they didn't write the code. It was copied from an existing genome.

We've merely proved that we can copy code from one machine to another.

Incorrect. It was done using DNA manufactured by machine. Yes it manufactured a copy of existing DNA, but it was wholly artificial DNA.

And not only that, this wholly artificial DNA contains encoded within it the names of the people who worked on it, an email address, and some famous quotations. It wasn't just grabbed from another bug.

#19 CryoBurger

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:10 AM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?


Granted, there is dispute on the definition of life, however in this case, the dispute is irrelevant since what they have achieved is assembling a new life form or an organism with pre-existing life parts, so I do not see how one can call it a creation of life.
There is a more suitable description to their achievenet: Genome Transplant(ation).

No question it is an amazing achievment, though I predict the new organism will undergo myriad of 'genetic defects' problems. Clones too, in theory should not exibit genetic defects, but they always do and we do not know why. I only hope the genetic defects will not go rampant....

Hi Ken -

Based on what you're saying, am I to understand that he simply took existing DNA that was already created by an organism, and moved it from one organism to another?

That he did not actually synthesize the DNA from scratch himself?

As an example: He took a root from a plant and fused it to the root of another plant, and watched it grow?

Or did he figure out how to take Chemical 1, Chemical 2, and Chemical 3 .... and for the first time figured out how to construct a Root .... and *THEN* fuse it to a plant and watch it grow?

The distinction is important here. And maybe that is even a poor example.

I guess what Im asking is - did he make DNA out of dental floss and bubble gum like MacGyver, or did he just take some existing DNA that "god" made already inside an organism, and *TRANSPLANT* it into another organism.

I think your statement that he simply did a transplant (movement from one location to another) is incomplete?

Did he not actually for the first time create synthetic DNA and *THEN* transplant it?

-CB-

#20 CryoBurger

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 07:20 AM

Reading the title, a layman would think that "life" is created out of organic materials by simulated lightening or something, however this is not the case. What they achieved was 1. They made an exact copy of a pre-existing genome (The term 'artificial' or 'synthetic' arises from this process i.e. artificialy copied genome) 2. Successfuly injected that genome into an existing life(cell), to be more precise, they got rid of the cell's original genome and replaced it with the uppermentioned artificialy copied genome.

So, Nope, life has not been created.


Care to define 'life' for us all?


Granted, there is dispute on the definition of life, however in this case, the dispute is irrelevant since what they have achieved is assembling a new life form or an organism with pre-existing life parts, so I do not see how one can call it a creation of life.
There is a more suitable description to their achievenet: Genome Transplant(ation).

No question it is an amazing achievment, though I predict the new organism will undergo myriad of 'genetic defects' problems. Clones too, in theory should not exibit genetic defects, but they always do and we do not know why. I only hope the genetic defects will not go rampant....



Look at it this way Ken.

DNA is the software that runs the hardware.

Before, we always had to use prexisting code.

This is the first time we have written the code, from scratch. In effect we've proven that we can write software directly, instead of having to take code from elsewhere. additionally, we have proven that there is NOTHING MYSTICAL ABOUT THAT CODE! I.E. God does not empower DNA, it's JUST CODE.

We already know that cells are just machines. We now know that the code is just code. God has been eliminated from the equation. The Deterministic Universe has hammered another nail in the coffin of religious superstition.

Disagree.

Just because we understand how God chose to make all that exists, doesn't mean his existence has been negated. Someone or something still put all this in motion. Science doesn't negate God. Science explains how God did things. Science is not at odds with the concept of God. And i wish Christians would get that through their thick skulls. Quite the contrary - science shows the beauty and the thinking behind the process.

Until someone proves the unprovable - that nothing initiated "everything", and that "everything" can occurr from nothing, with no help from anything, (an absurd concept to be quite honest) then God will never be removed from the Equation. Because whatever pulled the trigger and put the laws in place, will always be "God". He may not be the one we were taught about as kids, but he will always have, at the very least, the definition of "Initiator". At least until an initiator has been proven unnecessary.

-CB-

#21 e Volution

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 10:37 AM

Wow what in incredibly BORING meander this thread has made from this the original announcement of this amazing and historic achievement. Watch the video guys, it's 18 minutes long.

WHAT IS SO AMAZING:
Humans have just created the first synthetic cell. We started with the digital code in the computer, building the chromosomes using 4 bottles of chemicals, assembling the chromosome in yeast, transplanting the chromosome into a recipient cell, and transforming that bacteria cell into a new species and thus 'creating life'.

This is the first self replicating species in the history of life whos parent is a computer!

This is the first species to have its own website encoded in it's genetic code!

I really think some of you detractors need a reality check and step back and appreciate how severely your preconceived notions of god, ethics, humanity, life, WHATEVER are totally skewing your interpretation of this monumental occasion. Yes there are plenty of caveats like the informational content of the genome wasn't created from scratch, but this is completely acknowledged by being a major break through - yet the first baby step towards much grander ambitions, and ultimately the declaration "humans create life" without a single caveat in sight.

#22 JLL

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 11:24 AM

This is fascinating indeed, just read about this elsewhere.

The "patent on synthetic life" issue troubles me somewhat, but I think gene patents are inevitably going to collapse anyway. It might slow down progress, however.

#23 ken_akiba

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 03:21 PM

Actually.. this copied genome containing Watermark such as names of research team, email addresses, and quotations... worries me.

Watermarking on Van Gogh fakes may be the counfeiter's choice and will pose no harmful consequences to life and its biosphere, however watermarking on copied genome may.
I reckon it was done most likely on 'junk' part of DNA that current mainstream science believes serves no function to anything, on which, I disagree wholeheartedly.
I think it is the junk DNA that holds the key to the quandry that clones always end up having unexpected, mysterious genetic defects.
And then my imagination starts to wonder what if our original creator(s) had left her/his/its signature on it as our counfeiter Craig Venter did.. Then what desecration would it be. And what if junk part of DNA actually functions pivotal role such as... well I would rather not reveal my imagination here since it may serve as a pivotal theme for a sci-fi I may write someday :-) well at any rate, what if messing with it triggers unimaginable consequences?

It may be a fiction.
Or it may be not...

Edited by ken_akiba, 22 May 2010 - 03:26 PM.


#24 chris w

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 06:00 PM

And then my imagination starts to wonder what if our original creator(s) had left her/his/its signature on it as our counfeiter Craig Venter did.. Then what desecration would it be. Well at any rate, what if messing with it triggers unimaginable consequences?
It may be a fiction.
Or it may be not...


Then we are heading for cosmic magnitude ass - spanking soon :-D

Edited by chris w, 22 May 2010 - 06:01 PM.


#25 Shannon Vyff

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 06:12 PM

Even though I don't think it was creating life, and the creationists think it bolsters their case--I do think there will be a lot more people reading about extreme life extension right now due to the enormous amount of press coverage, and the related articles and links with Venters' name.

#26 chris w

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Posted 22 May 2010 - 06:28 PM

I reckon it was done most likely on 'junk' part of DNA that current mainstream science believes serves no function to anything, on which, I disagree wholeheartedly.
I think it is the junk DNA that holds the key to the quandry that clones always end up having unexpected, mysterious genetic defects.


Maybe no more : http://www.eurekaler...ol-dd043010.php

Researchers from the University of Leeds, UK, the Charité University Medical School and the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin, Germany, have discovered a new driving force behind cancer growth.

Their studies have identified how 'junk' DNA promotes the growth of cancer cells in patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Professor Constanze Bonifer (University of Leeds) and Dr Stephan Mathas (Charité, MDC) who co-led the study suspect that these pieces of 'junk' DNA, called 'long terminal repeats', can play a role in other forms of cancer as well. The work is published in Nature Medicine.*

The researchers uncovered the process by which this 'junk DNA' is made active, promoting cancer growth.

"We have shown this is the case in Hodgkin's lymphoma, but the exact same mechanism could be involved in the development of other forms of blood cancer," said Prof. Bonifer. "This would have implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of these diseases."

'Long terminal repeats' (LTRs) are a form of 'junk DNA' - genetic material that has accumulated in the human genome over millions of years. Although LTRs originate from viruses and are potentially harmful, they are usually made inactive when embryos are developing in the womb

#27 niner

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 06:30 AM

the creationists think it bolsters their case

How in God's name do they figure that? The delusion is stupefying.

Ken, some junk dna is just junk. Biology that has derived from eons of evolution is literally kludge piled upon kludge. Sure, it works great, after a fashion, but it is distinctly sub-optimal.

Icantgoforthat, thanks for the reality check. We had to know that this event would shake the tree pretty hard, and a lot of nuts would fall out.

#28 JonnyDoowop

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 08:01 AM

Actually.. this copied genome containing Watermark such as names of research team, email addresses, and quotations... worries me.

Watermarking on Van Gogh fakes may be the counfeiter's choice and will pose no harmful consequences to life and its biosphere, however watermarking on copied genome may.
I reckon it was done most likely on 'junk' part of DNA that current mainstream science believes serves no function to anything, on which, I disagree wholeheartedly.
I think it is the junk DNA that holds the key to the quandry that clones always end up having unexpected, mysterious genetic defects.
And then my imagination starts to wonder what if our original creator(s) had left her/his/its signature on it as our counfeiter Craig Venter did.. Then what desecration would it be. And what if junk part of DNA actually functions pivotal role such as... well I would rather not reveal my imagination here since it may serve as a pivotal theme for a sci-fi I may write someday :-) well at any rate, what if messing with it triggers unimaginable consequences?

It may be a fiction.
Or it may be not...


Are we talking about zombie consequences? Because that'd be amazing.

#29 ken_akiba

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 01:38 PM

"Some junk dna is just junk" is another way of saying "some junk dna shouldn't have been labeled as junk dna in the first place". And my guess is, the term 'some' will, sooner or later, snowball into 'all' i.e. I think all junk DNA w/o exception, serve some purpose that we yet have no idea of.
For non-junk dna's function/purpose we at least have some idea, whereas that of junk dna, none we know. As such, I'd say messing with junk dna is intrinsically much more dangerous. So I'd go as far as saying, we should stop messing with junk dna all at once (till we have good, at least some, understanding of it) let alone senseless deed such as overwriting it with email addresses.

No question an ingenious achievment, nonetheless once the dust settles, no less and no more than a successful transplant(ation) of a counterfeit-ed or copied genome. Again we are yet to see if (or rather, when) the organism will develop genetic-defect related problems, as clones always do, and of course, if the organism will survive at all.

And oh almost forgot, if(or when?) will it turn into a zombie or a monster :-)
(Don't be fooled by the smiley there, I'm afraid am dead serious about a possible uncontrollable emergence of super bacteria from somewhere in some privatly funded shady labs, considering that this sort of lab work is basically a trial n error job and doesn't require billion dollar equipments)

Am I too pessimistic? I admit that I sound like it but I do think that we cannot be too cautious in a matter like this that deals with force of life.

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#30 chris w

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Posted 23 May 2010 - 02:37 PM

I'm afraid am dead serious about a possible uncontrollable emergence of super bacteria from somewhere in some privatly funded shady labs, considering that this sort of lab work is basically a trial n error job and doesn't require billion dollar equipments)

Am I too pessimistic? I admit that I sound like it but I do think that we cannot be too cautious in a matter like this that deals with force of life.


But Ken, isn't the "shady private lab" thing an argument exactly in favor of messing with this stuff by "the good guys" ? I agree that all sorts of things could come from this, but to me that's why we have to keep working on that, like with nuclear weapons - if you're affraid of being nuked, then you should build anti - nuke shield right ? and not cease researching the nuclear power alltogether.

Edited by chris w, 23 May 2010 - 02:40 PM.





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