December 28, 2008

Jim Thomas debates Drew Endy on Synbio

Jim Thomas from the Etc Group sent me the link to a debate between himself and Drew Endy on Synthetic Biology, by the Long Now foundation. You can watch the 2 hour debate here . This 10 minute video is Jim's presentation in the debate, but the debate that follows the questions and the dynamics of body language between the 2 is well worth watching the full thing. To be so articulate and focused given such an incredibly complex but essentially unreported and frankly, frightening topic is well, watch the video.

The only thing I think wasn't addressed in the video was how students and biohackers are potentially being exploited to speed the pace of the technology because the faster this occurs the more the stakeholders "diffuse the powerful technology as quickly and most extensively as possible before civil society has a chance to discuss it"

Also I wonder about the nature of evolution and what we don't know about it.
We are "constrained" by natures slow evolution of one generation to the next, of direct descent and replication with error but Synthetic Biology changes how nature propogates over time. What if Lynn Margulis is right about Symbiogenesis? (freaky how close the term) That "all life is bacteria and bacteria are units, living beings, living units. Everything else, which we see as animals or plants, are living beings made up of more than one type of bacteria. That is they are the result of a symbiogenesis between more than one type of bacteria". source
Or see for example symbiotic microbes induce profound genetic changes in their hosts
What kind of evolutionary future might we face given the fantasy bacteria of students and profit driven microbes of corporations?

No comments: