Science creates synthetic life

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Insurgency, May 21, 2010.

  1. Saw this yesterday and also saw someone posted it in the science section; but this definitely deserves a place in the Spiritual and Philosophy section :p
    Please, take the time to read it, because it is actually very, very interesting, and well, historic.
    "defining moment in the history of biology and biotechnology", Mark Bedau, a philosopher at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, told Science.

    After reading this i have actually become very confused now on what life is.

    This experiment seems to indicate, that it takes a certain degree of intelligence and organizational skill to make this sort of thing work. It could not have simply "caused itself." They didn't make anything from scratch, by which I mean they didn't synthesize any cellular molecules or DNA from basic chemicals. They just rearranged living matter that already existed. Had the scientists managed to create matter out of nothing, then that would be a little more problematic. But even then still, you would have the problem of the scientists having had to use pre-existent matter to create new matter, and so on and so forth.
  2. holy shit that is pretty profound, do you think it will eventually evolve into some kind of pokemon?

    this means they can command cells to do certain things right? when they speak of using this tech to get rid of pollutants and such but then you could get them to do a lot more than just that.

    is this really what the world needs? more tech to do our lazy work, more excuses to not give a fuck about polluting, less responsibility on us.

    do you think mankind will ever get over the easy way out or do you think we are destined to become the one race to end all struggle eventually with technology making life easier and easier. isnt this the goal though in nature? to become more efficient? so that we can focus on making other aspects of ourselves or our lives or our environment better?
  3. awesome find!

    Imagine the possibilities from this effort!!! Maybe we can create humans eventually, and our personal memories could be transfered to the consciousness of that body. Immortality!
  4. Shut up dude. I don't understand how anybody could feel negatively about this discovery.

    Firstly, what's wrong with making life easier? If we can develop synthetic life to clean the environment, heal the sick, and maybe even lengthen your life...whats wrong with that? The scientist who developed this is not the guy who made global warming happen or the guy who is spilling oil into the gulf right now. He is an altruistic man who is trying to develop new techniques to preserve human life. Thats what it comes down to.

    Secondly, how is this an EASY way out??? The guy who discovered how to create synthetic life spent about 15 years trying to figure out how to do it. This is not easy, it's actually so difficult that this is the first time it has ever happened. Oh yeah, and they spent 40 million on it . . . couldn't have been easy coming up with that kind of money either.

    Peaches, please......What would you suggest we should do to fix our problems???
  5. #5 skippyluvs, May 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2010

    ^ Exactly, and I've heard many already claiming that what has been achieved isn't "true artificial" life. They speak of many benefits such as using bacteria to clean oil and such, but based on the methodology Venter seems to use I don't even want to imagine the sheer amount of trial and error that would be needed for that.

    Honestly, I had already thought humanity created things as what was just announced.

    Like you said, if the man took sand, coal, and salt and created life, then we'd be talking. But like he said it took him 15 years to do what he did, and when you research the work that he did it was all trial and error. An accomplishment, sure, but not as significant as when humanity discovered DNA in and of itself in my opinion.
  6. A more unbiased and well rounded perspective on what took place in my opinion:

    Did Craig Venter Just Create Synthetic Life? The Jury Is Decidedly Out | 80beats | Discover Magazine

    Some quotes from it -


    But many experts say that since Venter copied a pre-existing genome, he didn’t really create a new life form.
    “To my mind Craig has somewhat overplayed the importance of this,” said David Baltimore, a leading geneticist at Caltech. Dr. Baltimore described the result as “a technical tour de force” but not breakthrough science, but just a matter of scale…. “He has not created life, only mimicked it,” Dr. Baltimore said [The New York Times].

    In addition, many experts note that the experimenters got a big boost by placing the synthetic genome in a preexisting cell, which was naturally inclined to make sense of the transplanted DNA and to turn genes on and off. Thus, they say, it’s not accurate to label the experiment’s product a true “synthetic cell.”

    Meanwhile, physicist Freeman Dyson backed his way into paying the researchers a compliment in his own inimitable way:

    This experiment, putting together a living bacterium from synthetic components, is clumsy, tedious, unoriginal. From the point of view of aesthetic and intellectual elegance, it is a bad experiment. But it is nevertheless a big discovery. It opens the way to the new world of synthetic biology. It proves that sequencing and synthesizing DNA give us all the tools we need to create new forms of life. After this, the tools will be improved and simplified, and synthesis of new creatures will become quicker and cheaper. Nobody can predict the new discoveries and surprises that the new technology will bring [The Edge].

    And while some horrified environmentalists called for an immediate halt to such experiments, arguing that unnatural life forms could cause unknown disasters if released into the wild, Paul Keim of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity was quick to reassure the public.

    Keim said there is no new hazard because the Venter team manufactured a genome whose structure and function were already understood. The researchers didn’t create a novel life form. “We have a long way to go before we see a totally synthetic organism that does something important or dangerous,” he said. [Washington Post]

  7. look im not taking any sides of the argument i was trying to speak for both if you hadnt noticed. how do you even know this guys intentions? sure it could be used to preserve human life but i think i read hes trying to patent it, that leads me to believe someones trying to profiteer, which isnt harmful either. i mean he did spend alot of time and money. and what if this gets into the wrong hands? what is this tech capable of manifesting into?

    fix our problems? easy, find whats causing them, oh yea, us. so maybe we ALL need a little change in perspective but thats not going to happen anytime soon, so we keep coming up with new solutions that alot of the time turn into problems i.e. oil bullshit crisis and until we stop and realize that we create our own problems and most solutions arent even solutions but rather temporary bandaids that eventually start to lose their stickiness, we will keep fucking around. if we dont fuck around so much and get hurt there is no need for bandaids, we have been fucking around for a while now and have been piling up those bandaids, its only a matter of time before that shit gets infected.
  8. I don't think you quite understand the possibilities here.

    Imagine a tree genetically-engineered to grow into a house. Imagine an entire manufacturing process predicated on living, growing things. Imagine leaves that generate electricity. You could literally make anything you wanted with this.

    If we harness this right we won't need to pollute.

    But while we're at it, what's wrong with developing a technology that would allow us to clean up our own pollution? Should we just leave all the wonderful chemicals we've been synthesizing out there with no plan to do anything with them?

    The potential is terrifying -- you could make literally ANYTHING you wanted with this! But no change comes without risk, and you can't just stick your head in the sand and wish things would stay the same. You can't stop change, the best thing to do is forge a path forward based on those developments which ARE happening and you can't prevent anyways.
  9. #9 skippyluvs, May 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2010

    ^ I absolutely agree, the potential benefits that this sort of research could lead up to are fantastic. However if you do the research and as Venter admits himself, humanity is a long long way from most of those things. The next step is eukarayotes and even then many are skeptical it can be done.

    Those that are worrying simply need to do the research and they'll find out that it's not as threatening as they may believe, especially those who are fundamentalist and of a traditional religious sect. I've come to the conclusion that this latest news is mostly hype.

    Venter sure performed a lot of hard work, A LOT of hard work, but I have to say I'm not THAT impressed. The day I see this guy ;):


    with organic compounds interacting within a dynamic and multi-embellished manner is when you say things like "hands down" and "ho shhh."

    Hell, even something the size of a rice grain would do it.

    I'm curious how they plan on adapting his methodology, should be interesting to see in the coming decades, however I expect much of it to merge with current pharmaceutical and agricultural biotech practices such as disease resistant tech. Monsanto and the like.

  10. i couldnt disagree with any of the above, as i said im trying to bring out both points of the argument, trying to see both sides here so a reasonable outlook can be made cuz everything you posted is all wonderful in words just like communism.

    what we're dealing with is just so complicated its hard to come to conclusions. its like the discovery of oil and its uses and how now we're totally dependent on it and how its slowly diminishing, we see these things as 'resources' as we do our entire environment and we're slowly but surely raping the shit out of our planet instead of coexisting with it and everything else like every other species is doing.

    why cant we be happy and stay happy?
  11. nuclear energy was a historical break through, and look whats it become now.

    i can go either way on this issue however. are humans finding ways so that the only risk of death is dying of old age? we need population control and illness is a very big part of that. I do however think this is one step closer to making health care more inexpensive. Think of the medical possibilities, we could get rid of all viruses!

    That would be cool to create life with ones own DNA though. I honestly think it is time that human cloning is brought to the table, if it hasn't already haha

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