Is Artificial Life Just Around The Corner?

Here is a bit of interesting technology news. We have heard about artifical intelligence, but how about artifical life?

Today the Associated Press (AP) is reporting that artificial life may be happening very soon, with the first step happening as soon as six months. A complete form of article life, that is a functioning live cell, is expected to be “born” in the next three to ten years.

Scientists from around the globe are competing in the artificial life race, including a company called ProtoLife of Venice, Italy. Mark Beadau, the chief operating officer of the company told AP, “We’re talking about a technology that could change our world in pretty fundamental ways — in fact, in ways that are impossible to predict.”

Artificial life, also known as “wet life” by scientists, would exist when a synthetic cell is produced from the basic chemicals in DNA. It would be too small to see with the naked eye. This cell would be called a protocell.

According to scientists, there are three things that a living cell needs: a membrane or container to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out, some sort of genetic system that dictates how the cell will grow, change and reproduce, and a metabolic system that will take raw materials and turn them into energy for the cell (food).

Leaders in the field of this technology are saying that an announcement will be made within the next six months that the first step, creating a membrane, will be easily achieved.

Scientific teams in the United States, such as one at Harvard medical School and one at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Gainesville, Fl are working on the problems of the next step, producing that genetic system for the synthetic cell.

What do you think of this development? Do you think it is possible to create synthetic life? What about any ethical concerns? Could artificial life “run amok” and cause large scale disaster? I’d love to hear your opinion.

Mary Ann Romans also writes for the Frugal Living Blog here at Families.com, where she shares money saving tips for today’s families.

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About Mary Ann Romans

Mary Ann Romans is a freelance writer, online content manager, wife and mother of three children. She lives in Pennsylvania in the middle of the woods but close enough to Target and Home Depot. The author of many magazine, newspaper and online articles, Mary Ann enjoys writing about almost any subject. "Writing gives me the opportunity to both learn interesting information, and to interact with wonderful people." Mary Ann has written more than 5,000 blogs for Families.com since she started back in December 2006. Contact her at maromans AT verizon.net or visit her personal blog http://homeinawoods.wordpress.com

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