Artificial life created?

Scientists are close to creating artificial life, reports Ed Pilkington for The Guardian:

Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

The announcement, which is expected within weeks and could come as early as Monday at the annual meeting of his scientific institute in San Diego, California, will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.

Read the whole article at the link above. If true – and the credentials of several of those involved tend to support that belief – this was an inevitable development. Controversy will ensue, certainly, but the bell cannot be un-rung once sounded, and further steps will swiftly follow.

Human history teaches us that our technology always advances faster than our understanding. Like splitting the atom or cloning a sheep, though, it cannot be stopped. If it is possible, we will do it whether it is ultimately a good thing or not, simply because we can.

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