Among the authors is the chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, who discusses its report on synthetic biology, and participants in The Hastings Center's project on ethical issues in synthetic biology. This recently completed project was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Center has embarked on a second research project on synthetic biology, also funded by the Sloan Foundation.
• "The Ethics of Synthetic Biology: Guiding Principles for Emerging Technologies." Amy Gutmann, chair of the presidential commission, explains the commission's unanimous conclusion that the federal government should adopt a strategy of "prudent vigilance" with regard to synthetic biology. The commission decided that no new regulations or oversight bodies are needed at this time, but that "responsible stewardship requires that existing federal agencies conduct an ongoing and coordinated review of the field's risks, benefits, and moral objections as it matures."
• "Staying Sober about Science." Microbiologist Rob Carlson, principal of Biodesic and a participant in The Hastings Center's project, explains why he thinks the presidential commission's report is well considered. "The commission avoided the trap of proscribing from on high the future course of a technology still emerging from the muck," he writes, adding the both proponents and opponents of synthetic biology "would benefit from implementing the commission's recommendation to construct a mechanism for providing balanced, 'hype-free' analysis of advances in the science and technology."
• "Of Microbes and Men." Gregory E. Kaebnick, editor of the Hastings Center Report and a principal investigator in the synthetic biology project, examines the moral concern about the human alteration of nature. Although that concern is legitimate, Kaebnick finds that some instances of altering nature are to be tolerated, and that altering microbes to make medicine or fuel – as synthetic biologists aim to do – might be among them. Kaebnick is also editor of the new book, The Ideal of Nature.
• "The Intrinsic Scientific Value of Reprogramming Life." Mark A. Bedau, a professor of philosophy and humanities at Reed College and a participant in the synthetic biology project, contrasts the idea that synthetic biology might be intrinsically dangerous with the prospect that it might have intrinsic value. By this he means that reprogramming cells may reveal insights into the nature of life, which "remains one of the deepest fundamental mysteries about our world."
• "Interests, Identifies, and Synthetic Biology." Thomas H. Murray, president of The Hastings Center and a principal investigator in its synthetic biology project, envisions how the most important policy disputes over synthetic biology will be framed as the technology progresses. They may be battles over interests – such as the risks of biosafety versus the benefits of scientific progress – in which case tradeoffs are possible. But they may be debates over identity – about the proper place of humans in the cosmos and the proper relationship of humans to the world around them. In debates over identity, compromises are elusive and people with different viewpoints are unintelligible to one another. "My concern," Murray concludes, "is that this last feature, mutual unintelligibility, may have already appeared."
Michael Turton | EurekAlert!
Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'
23.01.2018 | Rutgers University
Researchers identify a protein that keeps metastatic breast cancer cells dormant
23.01.2018 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
23.01.2018 | Life Sciences
23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy