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On the road towards artificial life?

A Discussion of the Opportunities and Risks of Synthetic Biology

Tue, June 21, 2011 7:00 pm CEST

Media Theater
Thanks to advances in biology and genetic engineering, the creation of living organisms in the laboratory is increasingly appearing to be a realistic vision of the future. The term “synthetic biology” has recently become widely used to describe such advances, despite the fact that this is by no means the only objective: in a broader sense, the long-term goal of synthetic biology can be seen as turning biology into engineering and turning life into technology.

Critics warn of the risks that these new developments pose or raise fundamental concerns about the idea of creating artificial life with entirely new characteristics, even if these are to be merely bacteria or single-cell organisms. Some researchers and politicians, on the other hand, increasingly highlight major opportunities that the field has to offer when it comes to solving key problems in areas such as energy, health and the environment. At the same time, we are seeing more and more academic and public discussions – on a national and international level – of ethical and social aspects of synthetic biology, while growing attention is also being devoted to the subject in art.

The evening will begin with introductory lectures and a short film. There will then be an opportunity to question researchers and representatives of civil society organizations and other groups about their work and views, and to discuss with them the present and future of synthetic biology.

Organizing Organization / Institution



ZKM | Center for Art and Media

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