George Church gives an insight into current and future trends in high level synthetic biology. This lecture was delivered to a select group of artists and designers on the 29.08.2012 as part of the EU FP7 Studiolab project.

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Synthetic biology research is based on the art of designing genetic material from the code up. Rather than slicing, dicing and splicing existing genetic material, new synthesising protocols allow the specification and production of genetic sequences; to order. Typing or constructing a genetic sequence in computer and ordering from an online supplier is a current, though expensive reality for researchers. Possibilities abound with known and unknown sequences. A simple modern day analogy would be to consider the evoloution of the printer. Beginning with printing words onto to paper that revolutionised transfer of ideas, to the modern day 3D printer that is revolutionising the way we transmit objects, we can now ‘print’ genetic material. Synthetic biology raises fundamental scientific and ethical questions; from the knee-jerk reaction to a Frankenstein-like monster virus, to questions of origin and evolution, there are simultaneously problematic and astounding potentials. Ars Electronic Futurelab, as part of Studiolab invite your participation to a masterclass in Biolab to take a look into the genetic strands of life and to consider the murky depths of the future.

Program curators: Matthew Gardiner, Christopher Lindinger.

Video: Hunter Lee Daniel
Audio: Matthew Gardiner

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