NETFUTURE
Science, Technology, and Human Responsibility


Issue #180            March 25, 2010
A Publication of The Nature Institute
Editor: Stephen L. Talbott (stevet@netfuture.org)

On the Web: http://netfuture.org
You may redistribute this newsletter for noncommercial purposes.

This issue of NetFuture: http://netfuture.org/2010/Mar2510_180.html

Contents
Editor’s Note
Quotes and Provocations
      How to Manufacture the Notion of Synthetic Life
About this newsletter


EDITOR’S NOTE

Over the past year or two, NetFuture has consisted of rather long, heavy articles — not at all easy reads. The old "Quotes and Provocations" department of the newsletter has remained unused. At this point I hope to start mixing in occasional shorter and more readable notes and commentaries. The current issue, I trust, will fit this category.

On another note: if you are curious about the scientific points of view underlying recent NetFuture articles, you may be interested in this year’s two summer courses at the Nature Institute:

For details, go to the Nature Institute calendar.

SLT

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QUOTES AND PROVOCATIONS

How to Manufacture the Notion of Synthetic Life

I recently participated in a conference on synthetic biology (the discipline where one attempts to synthesize, in part or in whole, new organisms) at the Hastings Center in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. A rather minor exchange at the very end of the conference has been working on me ever since.

The question of the value of artificial flowers (of the conventional sort) had come