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  1. #11
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    This is actually pretty significant as far as scientific advancement goes, basically the DNA of the cell is completely synthetic and self replicates, this gives us an entirely new tool box to play with. As far as creativity goes - "the sky is the limit" - is the phrase that comes to mind. There are dangers associated with this work as well, ethics and caution are definitely important here as was already pointed out by Oberon.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Ming's Avatar
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    It just shows how anything is possible! This is a magnificent scientific discovery though! Now that humans have 'made life', what can humans do with it?

    I think the fear most people are talking about aren't 'the making of new life'. It's the 'What we do with the new life' that is worrying people.

  3. #13
    Let's make this showy! raz's Avatar
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    I just hope I'm gone before our world turns into the Terminator.


  4. #14
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon View Post
    This frightens me. We can't even control something as simple as an undersea oil well. How can we be absolutely certain that we can control engineered life forms to ensure that they aren't destructive to the environment or to ourselves?

    It looks as though we could probably engineer a viable soil bacterium right now. A simple soil bacterium, if mismanaged, could be devastating to us.

    I'm all for technology, but this looks dangerous to me and I advise caution... the same degree of caution applied by nuclear engineers.
    I think we need a greater degree of caution. The products of nuclear engineering are not self replicating.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  5. #15
    Ruler of the Stars Asterion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateralus View Post
    I think we need a greater degree of caution. The products of nuclear engineering are not self replicating.
    It is a very similar process though, starting with one, then spontaneously producing more. It needs to be controlled, just as a nuclear reaction is controlled. This should be reasonably easy though, most biological cells are limited by the amount of fuel you give them, and how big a dish you put them in. I'd guess that these variables are very easily controlled, though I could be wrong since I'm not exactly a biologist lol.

    I've been reading about this stuff lately, it's funny how much of coincidence this discovery is. I can understand that achieving synthetic life in this fashion would be incredibly difficult, it would presumably be a very very fickle problem, like a computer script, if one single digit is wrong, it can often mess up the entire program. Though cells do have some tolerance to error, because they have mechanisms that nullify defective cells... I think this is also the case with computers

    I watched a TED talk about this a couple days ago too, I remember him mentioning that they tried to do this many times, 99 % of their attempts were failures. I'm wondering just how replicable this experiment really is...
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  6. #16
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    I'm to tired to write anything cool. This article is pretty much full of brilliance!

    This is . AWESOME.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by King-Of-Despair View Post
    It is a very similar process though, starting with one, then spontaneously producing more. It needs to be controlled, just as a nuclear reaction is controlled. This should be reasonably easy though, most biological cells are limited by the amount of fuel you give them, and how big a dish you put them in. I'd guess that these variables are very easily controlled, though I could be wrong since I'm not exactly a biologist lol.

    I've been reading about this stuff lately, it's funny how much of coincidence this discovery is. I can understand that achieving synthetic life in this fashion would be incredibly difficult, it would presumably be a very very fickle problem, like a computer script, if one single digit is wrong, it can often mess up the entire program. Though cells do have some tolerance to error, because they have mechanisms that nullify defective cells... I think this is also the case with computers

    I watched a TED talk about this a couple days ago too, I remember him mentioning that they tried to do this many times, 99 % of their attempts were failures. I'm wondering just how replicable this experiment really is...
    I don't think nuclear technology is a good comparison to genetic engineering. Sure, we can cause chain reactions under the right conditions, but we don't get inadvertent chain reactions. I've never heard of any nuclear byproduct going into any kind of spontaneous chain reaction. Life, on the other hand, is completely different.

    I think we should take a lesson from what Monsanto has done to the corn in Mexico. Mexico has hundreds of different indigenous corn species. However, genetically modified corn has been inadvertently spread in Mexico. People buy genetically modified corn at the market and some of that corn is dropped on the ground. The genetically modified corn then reproduces, sometimes creating hybrids with the indigenous corn. This is putting stress on the indigenous corn, enough that it's possible that some species could become extinct (or they're bred out of existence). There is no solution to this problem because there is no way to remove all of the genetically modified corn from the environment.

    In this particular case the world probably isn't going to end, but it's not unreasonable to believe that some genetically modified life forms could have a much more hazardous effect on the environment, perhaps even a catastrophic effect. I think it's important to always operate under the assumption that whatever life forms you are engineering will escape their containment. What happens when (not if) they do?
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  8. #18
    Senior Member Lethal Sage's Avatar
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    I won't be satisfied until this is weaponized and can eat a man's head.
    ...

  9. #19
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    I dont see how this is any more dangerous than conventional genetic engineering; These sort of fears involving ethics and safety occur anytime a major scientific advancement is made(especially in the field of biology). I think the benefeits of proceeding with the research and application of this new technology outweighs the risks. To advance you must plunge into the unkown, and their is always uncertainty when doing so.

    These new organisms will probably have genetic "kill switches" that will destroy the organism upon exiting lab conditions until they have been experimented with thoroughly, then are deemed safe for commercial use.

  10. #20
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by themightybob View Post
    These new organisms will probably have genetic "kill switches" that will destroy the organism upon exiting lab conditions until they have been experimented with thoroughly, then are deemed safe for commercial use.
    And BP will probably take every precaution to make sure there's no catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, right? No, companies cut corners to save money and they don't always properly assess risk. I don't trust any company to "do the right thing".
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

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