Tag Archives: biotechnology

Andrew Marr on “anti-news”

It’s well worth listening to Andrew Marr’s latest edition of Start the Week in which he goes back over some of the best interviews and guests of the year.

He chooses to focus on “anti-news” – developments and trends that don’t make the headlines but nevertheless have a huge long term impact on the way we live our lives. Futurismic stuff, in fact.

Topics include human identity, bioscience, genetic predetermination, information technology, black swans, and the morality of nanotechnology.

Listen to the podcast here or on BBC iPlayer (available for the next six days).

Homebrew genetic engineering

We’re beginning to see the earliest signs of the “garage startup” genetic engineering company:

In her San Francisco dining room lab, for example, 31-year-old computer programmer Meredith L. Patterson is trying to develop genetically altered yogurt bacteria that will glow green to signal the presence of melamine, the chemical that turned Chinese-made baby formula and pet food deadly.

Regardless of what any particular hobbyist or entrepreneur is actually looking for, if you have enough people experimenting there is a good chance they will find something remarkable (what Nassim “black swan” Taleb calls “stochastic tinkering“). Unfortunately there is also a downside:

Jim Thomas of ETC Group, a biotechnology watchdog organization, warned that synthetic organisms in the hands of amateurs could escape and cause outbreaks of incurable diseases or unpredictable environmental damage.

Here’s hoping a balance can be struck between regulation and innovation.

[article from Physorg][image from frankenstoen on flickr]