In 2010, a breakthrough had been made in medical science.
“Synthia”, as they called it, had been created. It was a synthetic life form that wasn’t quite synthetic, but heralded a new era of test-tube life forms.
Here’s a quick video of one of the team’s scientists discussing their efforts at a TED talk:
The reason the life form wasn’t 100% synthetic is because they created it using existing living cells. The process was guided by computer technology, which essentially takes the original cell and copies it.
It’s a complicated process, but you can visit this link to view a Q & A between the team and a panel of journalists from the University of Cambridge.
The race to create the first fully synthetic life form has been an ongoing effort for decades, with recent breakthroughs in decoding DNA lending itself to faster understanding of how to create life.
Synthia is a major first step for the scientific and medical field. Newer and more efficient vaccines could be created, living tissue could be grown in record time, replacement organs would be readily available to all who need them, etc.
There’s an unfortunate dark side to synthetic life, and that is (you guessed it) the question of military application. Could this lead to advanced and powerful bio-weapons? Could a radical terrorist steal the cells and create a weapon?
These are questions that must be answered, and the team behind Synthia laments that the technology is moving much faster than the safety issues, which is a common problem with innovation these days. By the time the law gets around to answering the difficult questions, those answers are no longer applicable.
It’s a dark and scary road when it comes to creating life in the confines of a laboratory, but with researchers like Craig Venter and Victoria Gill with their Synthia research, I’m confident the right choices will be made.
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