Monday, May 24, 2010

Craig Venter unveils "Synthetic Life"

We spend a great deal of our time on this site, and in economic circles, discussing the negative economic situation and the debt in which we find ourselves swimming. I have mentioned before that I am optimistic about the long term future and that when looking at the progression of mankind we have come out of hard times by taking steps forwards, not backwards. While we are likely to go through a period of events and adjustments in the near-term, the end result will be that we progress further.

What does it mean to progress? That’s an interesting debate, but for me progressing means working to ensure the survival of our species (systems must be sustainable - durable - to survive). I have talked about the need for this and how if we were to formalize that progression, then we accelerate the process by creating goals and spending our limited resources more smartly. Species who fail to progress and strive towards survival eventually become extinct – the world has produced a very clear track record in this regard. It is a mistake to think that we can each simply live out our lives “in the pursuit of happiness” without contributing to the progression of survival – that lack of progress will, in the long run, doom our survival.

Is there an “invisible hand” that keeps us moving in the survival direction? Yes, but we are conscious beings capable of controlling the rate of progression. In keeping with this belief, I am going to post some pertinent science pieces as I run across them.

Craig Venter, the American biologist and entrepreneur most famous for his role in being one of the first to sequence the human genome, has now synthesized the first artificial cell. This is a very interesting piece of science, it is historic, and it has very large implications for the future and even the economy. Many people express their fear about what he’s doing, and those fears definitely do justify proceeding with extreme caution. However, the long term benefits may greatly outweigh the risk. Viewing this video will make you aware of what is progressing and who is providing some of the funding.