Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Jurvetson: We Can Create Life
"Within the next three years, we will create artificial lifeforms from scratch." The key breakthrough that's occurred in the last few years, he says, is our ability to treat the code of life like a computer program. In the past, we could only cut and paste from biology, but the reality today is that we can write the code of life from scratch.
Anything that does not exist naturally in the environment can be generated, Jurvetson anticipates. So far, researchers have generated viruses and changed the species of one bacteria to another by swapping out its DNA. The goal of generating a new kind of organism that has never existed is "tantalizingly close."
Jurvetson noted this leads to "great capabilities, and also great responsibilities," and that a group of ethical experts and world religious leaders generally approved of such experimentation as long as it steers clear of human life. “The moment anyone talks about mammals, it’ll be a totally different proposition.”