In The News — 12 January 2014

When Craig Venter created a new living creature using biotechnology by assembling real DNA based on computer information, he became known as the most powerful and influential man in biotechnology. By creating an organism that can replicate itself, he explained that as the technology advances, we will be able to develop robotics and computational systems that are self-learning systems. However, there are huge concerns for national security and public health that surround biotechnology.

 When Venter’s team first created the phi X174 viral genome, Venter commissioned a large analysis of the implications of synthetic genomics for national security and public health. The resulting report warned that two issues were impeding appropriate governance of the new science. The first problem was that work on synthetic biology, or synbio, had become so cheap and easy that its practitioners were no longer classically trained biologists. This meant that there were no shared assumptions regarding the new field’s ethics, professional standards, or safety. The second problem was that existing standards, in some cases regulated by government agencies in the United States and other developed countries, were a generation old, therefore outdated, and also largely unknown to many younger practitioners.

Einstein’s revolutionary theories helped unravel the secrets of the cosmos. They also led to the atom bomb.

 

Read the full article from Foreign Affairs.

 

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Anat Reichman

(1) Reader Comment

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