The Bill Gates of Aritifical Life
Or the Man Who Would Be the Oil King. Take your pick. Meet the man who wants to be the Bill Gates of "artificial life", who is developing organisms that promise to make ethanol out of cellulose -- Craig Venter. "But this is about much more than any particular technology, or even the energy business as a whole ... artificial life ... has huge ethical and legal implications. Arthur L. Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, tells BusinessWeek that synthetic biologists may be 'manipulating nature without knowing where they are going.... There are arrogant scientists, and our friend Venter may be one of them.'"
The post The Big, Big Picture featured a series of predictions from well-known intellectuals about which would be the "next big thing" of the 21st century. My own response was:
The Next Big Thing hasn't happened yet. But given a century in prospect there are significant odds that some contingent event, discovery or emergent technology will organize or divide us in ways we do not yet suspect. "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
You never know what you're gonna get. But as the years roll forward, we will. We will.