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Published on Oct 22, 2009
Exhibit at the WHAT IF... Exhibition in the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin in 2009 The Synthetic Kingdom: A Natural History of the Synthetic Future, 2009 by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg How will we classify what's natural or unnatural when life is built from scratch? Synthetic Biology is turning to the living kingdoms for its materials library. No more petrochemicals: instead, pick a feature from an existing organism, locate its DNA and insert it into a biological chassis. Engineered life will compute, produce energy, clean up pollution, kill pathogens and even do the housework. Meanwhile, we'll have to add an extra branch to the Tree of Life. The Synthetic Kingdom is part of our new nature.
Biotech promises us control over the natural world, but living machines need controlling. Biology doesn't respect boundaries or patents. In simplifying life to its molecular interactions, might we accidentally degrade our sense of self? Are promises of sustainability and good health seductive enough to accept such compromise?