2
   

Synthetic life.

 
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 12:42 pm
@Cyracuz,
You have read "sentience" for "science". I was following up your comment above about "sentient life forms".
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 02:20 pm
@fresco,
Haha Smile So it would seem. That should teach me not to reply to posts when I'm crosseyed from reading too much fiction Very Happy

So sorry.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Sep, 2009 04:46 pm
@fresco,
But anyway, I do not know if we can equate "sentience" with "purposeful behaviour".
At least not in the sense that a sentient human being devotes all it's capacity towards a single purpose. I think that the base of knowledge and understanding required to achieve such a thing is rare among us.
A person who strives to reach a goal does so with purpose, but no one can control every variable in one's life, so things are bound to happen by accident, even if these accidents serve to fulfill the initial purpose.

For myself, I see no moral or ethical objections to the creation of simple living cells. There are a few issues that at first seem moral, but if I am honest with myself I realize that these objections are founded in the instinct of self preservation.
For example, should we create that which potentially can become a contester for our dominace of this planet? (A.I. or lifeforms that have a superior potential to humans).
A single cell isn't likely to be this threat to us, but it could well be a first step towards the coming of something that we didn't intend, or the breeding ground of some "accident" that we didn't forsee and that can become a threat to our very existence.
But I do not think these are moral considerations. More a fear of evolution passing us by, in a manner of speaking.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 01:14 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
According to a recent BBC programme "The Cell", the production of living cells by synthetic means may occur within a year. If so, what will be the philosophical and religious implications ?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00mbvfh/The_Cell_The_Spark_of_Life/

They did it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10132762.stm

Very impressive.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 01:29 pm

What seemed to be an intractable riddle " and one with significant religious overtones " has been solved. A research team led by J. Craig Venter, Hamilton Smith, Clyde Hutchison, and Daniel Gibson at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Md., has just announced in the journal Science that they have created new living bacteria from non-living parts.

The scientists have crafted what they’re calling a “synthetic cell” from a set of genes they decoded, artificially combined and then stuck into the cored-out remains of another bacterial cell.

The Venter team has been working for many years to create a synthetic bacterium. Having built a synthetic virus some years ago, they have now shown that they can take the next step.

A truly living thing
Some argued that making a virus was not a demonstration that life is reducible to its subsidiary parts. Viruses have to use bacteria to reproduce. No one can say that making a bacterium, a much more independent, complex, self-replicating critter, is not synthesizing a truly living thing.

Why did the Venter team do it? Well, it was in part to resolve that age-old debate about reducing life to the sum of its parts. They wanted to show it could be done. More important, however, is that the techniques of gene synthesis involved in this remarkable achievement hold out much promise for humankind.

Synthetic biology should permit scientists to make microbes that can solve many of our most pressing problems. Building bacteria that secrete food edible by other tiny ocean creatures will provide us with more to eat as the now-endangered ocean food chain is rebuilt. There could be bacteria that digest oil from leaks and spills, or bacteria that consume cholesterol and other dangerous substances in our bodies. There could even be bacteria that attack other microbes that cause so much death and illness. All those are in the offing, and that is all to the good.

Oversight will be vital
That said, there is great need for more oversight of this hugely powerful technology. Bad guys making nasty bugs or scientists who are not very careful about where they make new microbes or where they release them could pose serious risks to our health and environment.

Venter and his group were careful to use tiny molecular changes to “watermark” or stamp their creation. Any scientist or company who uses the techniques of synthetic biology in the future ought to be required to use similar identifying markers. If an artificial life form escapes, it must be easy to identify in order to hold those who made it accountable.

The regulatory, social and legal challenges can be solved. It will take both national and international commitments to do so, but the risk of inaction is greater than the risks of moving forward given the tremendous benefits this technology promises.

The real fallout from the Venter group’s achievement is subtle but more powerful. The scientists are chipping away at the view that there is something unique and unknowable about life itself. From this day forward, we know that the right chemical messages, presented in the right order and put in the right chemical context, can produce life.

Some may find this discovery a bit deflating. Others may worry that a line has been crossed in creating a new living thing. I think that none of this is true.

The dignity of life has never rested in its mystery but in its remarkable diversity, complexity and ability to manifest itself in all manner of conditions and circumstances. Coming to understand how life works, even taking small steps toward creating it, crosses no line. It is up to us to put this knowledge to good use. If there is any mystery, it is whether we will succeed.

Arthur Caplan is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 20 May, 2010 03:20 pm
You realize what this could mean in the normal process of patent apps? They, could, if no other conflicts, apply for exclusivity for any proces including fermentation or oxidative P lation that could be used to create just about anything of commercial medical or nutritional use.
Venter has always been a creative dude. He built up chunks till life appeared.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 12:40 am
@farmerman,
fm,

Just clarify for us: is it the case that Venter still requires a natural "life product" , namely a vacated cell, in order to star the replication chain ? If so, are we not still involved with the chicken and egg problem, albeit the "eggshell" ?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 10:28 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
fm,
Just clarify for us: is it the case that Venter still requires a natural "life product" , namely a vacated cell, in order to star the replication chain ? If so, are we not still involved with the chicken and egg problem, albeit the "eggshell" ?

Correct, they used a vacated cell to "incubate" the artificially constructed DNA.

But I think this is still a pretty amazing first step.

If they had to do it in a more rudimentary fashion I suspect they would have to revert to some pre-DNA type replicative molecule and try to brew it inside some lipid based bubble or membrane. That might be a fun academic exercise for demonstrating the early evolution of life, but it's unnecessary for what this team was hoping to accomplish.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 01:05 pm
@rosborne979,
Thanks for that. My point is directed at would be creationists who might still argue for a "supernatural ingredient" in the "life process". Clearly, we have modified life processes throughout the ages at macro-levels with little religious opposition (except perhaps for Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian Scientists). The fact that the modification has now moved to micro-levels may not be religiously significant in itself except in the case of complete synthesis. It will be interesting to differentiate between religious and secular "ethics" at this current level, especially with potential "doomsday" scenarios as possibilities.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 01:25 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
It will be interesting to differentiate between religious and secular "ethics" at this current level, especially with potential "doomsday" scenarios as possibilities.

Yes, that will be interesting Smile
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 01:35 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Thanks for that. My point is directed at would be creationists who might still argue for a "supernatural ingredient" in the "life process".

Yes, it's going to be hard to insert "magic" into this process any more now that something living has been built so much from scratch.

The cracks for the Creationists' God to hide in are getting smaller and smaller.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 05:06 pm
ROME " Catholic Church officials said Friday that the recently created first synthetic cell could be a positive development if correctly used, but warned scientists that only God can create life.

Vatican and Italian church officials were mostly cautious in their first reaction to the announcement from the United States that researchers had produced a living cell containing manmade DNA. They warned scientists of the ethical responsibility of scientific progress and said that the manner in which the innovation is applied in the future will be crucial.

"It's a great scientific discovery. Now we have to understand how it will be implemented in the future," Monsignor Rino Fisichella, the Vatican's top bioethics official, told Associated Press Television News.

"If we ascertain that it is for the good of all, of the environment and man in it, we'll keep the same judgment," he said. "If, on the other hand, the use of this discovery should turn against the dignity of and respect for human life, then our judgment would change."

Fisichella, who heads Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life, stressed there is no necessary clash between science and faith.

"We look at science with great interest. But we think above all about the meaning that must be given to life," Fisichella told state-run RAI television. "We can only reach the conclusion that we need God, the origin of life."

Catholic Church teaching holds that human life is God's gift, created through natural procreation between a man and woman.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, called the synthetic cell "an interesting result" but stressed that it "must have rules, like all the things that touch on the heart of life."

The paper said genetic engineering can do good but acts on "a very fragile terrain."

"It's all about combining courage with caution," it said.

The inventors said the world's first synthetic cell is more a re-creation of existing life " changing one simple type of bacterium into another " than a built-from-scratch kind. But genome-mapping pioneer J. Craig Venter said his team's project paves the way for designing organisms that work differently from the way nature intended for a wide range of uses.

A top Italian cardinal, Angelo Bagnasco, said the invention is "further sign of intelligence, God's gift to understand creation and be able to better govern it," according to Apcom and ANSA news agencies.

"On the other hand, intelligence can never be without responsibility," said Bagnasco, the head of the Italian bishops' conference. "Any form of intelligence and any scientific acquisition ... must always be measured against the ethical dimension, which has at its heart the true dignity of every person."

Another official with the Italian bishops' conference, Bishop Domenico Mogavero, expressed concern that scientists might be tempted to play God.

"Pretending to be God and parroting his power of creation is an enormous risk that can plunge men into a barbarity," Mogavero told newspaper La Stampa in an interview. Scientists "should never forget that there is only one creator: God."

"In the wrong hands, today's development can lead tomorrow to a devastating leap in the dark," said Mogavero, who heads the conference's legal affairs department.


rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 07:07 pm
@edgarblythe,
Thanks Edgar.

Just listen to 'em squirm. They can barely decide whether it's better to take this opportunity to lecture society on proper behavior or to obscure the meaning of "life" and "God" to try to squeeze their own God into the cracks.

Quote:
ROME " Catholic Church officials said Friday that the recently created first synthetic cell could be a positive development if correctly used, but warned scientists that only God can create life.

How do they know that. Do they even have a clue what "God" is?

Quote:
Vatican and Italian church officials were mostly cautious in their first reaction to the announcement from the United States that researchers had produced a living cell containing manmade DNA. They warned scientists of the ethical responsibility of scientific progress and said that the manner in which the innovation is applied in the future will be crucial.

The Vatican is lecturing us on ethics? I think they need to get their own house in order first. And I don't think I'll hold my breath waiting.

Quote:
"We look at science with great interest. But we think above all about the meaning that must be given to life," Fisichella told state-run RAI television. "We can only reach the conclusion that we need God, the origin of life."

And who better to bring us God than, The Church!

Yuck.

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 07:24 pm
I believe humans are now capable of creating life.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 01:06 am
@edgarblythe,
Even in the event of a complete synthesis, no doubt the church will exercise the "catch-all" clause that "God having made man in his own image allows man to participate is His creation".
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 03:05 pm
@edgarblythe,
Yes, it's called sex.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

Arrangement of microorganism - Question by fayorks
An animal that can photosynthesize! - Discussion by littlek
How do they fly? - Question by hannahherbener310
Test questions for evolutionites/evolosers - Discussion by gungasnake
Anti-Aging Compound identified - Discussion by rosborne979
Sex and Evolution - Discussion by gungasnake
Dogs Are People, Too - Discussion by Miller
Avoiding Death - Question by gollum
Synthetic Life - Question by Atom Blitzer
Single-Celled Organisms - Question by gollum
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Synthetic life.
  3. » Page 2
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 10/19/2021 at 10:57:02