Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Playballs

Journalist: Mr. Venter, with the experiments happening in your lab, do people say that you are playing God ?

Mr. Venter: oh... we are not playing.

Craig Venter and his lab successfully printed a bacterial chromosome and booted it. Soon, biology will develop a software engineering division where programmers compose the DNA code for a bacteria that consumes CO2 and produces fuel, thus solving global warming.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/ted-video-craig-venter-fuel-co2.php#ch03

Creating an artificial life is a way to manipulate the world one atom at a time. It gives engineers access to many feats that seemed reserved to nature, such as spitting CO2 with a molecule-sized cleaver. We will invent our own chemical reactions and build our robots from the inside out, the same way our mother built us.

The promises of artificial life forms are the same as those of nanotechnology. It is shocking to see one arrive so far ahead on the schedule than the other. In comparison, nanotechnologists still get excited about building individual bearings. Apparently, the goo of the future will be green, not gray.

In his talk, Craig Venter suggests we start carbon sequestration efforts as soon as possible. In all likelihood, whichever technology we develop to turn CO2 into fuel, the process will work better at high concentrations of the gas. If, by then, we have large stores of CO2 underground, it will ease the transition to the new production.
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