‘Synthetic Biology’ has received much attention recently with the announcement by Craig Venter of the first ‘synthetic organism’. It is a field in its infancy, and a field where the challenges, concerns, issues and potential are largely unprecedented. But synthesizing the DNA of a known organism and re-inserting it into a ‘shell’ (ala first ‘synthetic organism’) is just a start.
It would be entirely another thing altogether to be able to design and program DNA, and cells. The ability to design an organism’s function, program it in DNA and then ‘compile’ it to the biochemistry of life to define not just what life is, but what life does would profoundly transform biological science and our understanding of biology, and form the foundations for a profound revolution in medicine, agriculture, energy. We have developed this ability – the ability to program Life. Although in its infancy, we are pioneering a new field from synthetic biology based upon understanding and designing biological computation: Living software.