Edge hosted an amazing session that described the looming future of biology — this is for the real futurists. It featured George Church and Craig Venter talking about synthetic genomics — how we’re building new organisms right now and with presentiments for radical prospects in the future.
Brace yourself. There are six hours of video there; I’ve only started wading into it, but what I’ve seen so far also looks like a lot of material that will be very useful for inspiring students about the future of their field. There is also a downloadable book (which is a dead link right now, but I’m sure will be fixed soon) if you don’t want to watch the talks…but the talks are pretty darned good. Somehow, I’m going to have to make time to soak these up. Here’s the overview of the six sessions:
Dreams & Nightmares
Overview, safety/security/policy, nanotechnology, molecular manufacturing
Smaller than life
What is life, origins, in vitro synthetic life, mirror life, computing and DNA, computing with DNA
Bio-petrochemicals & pharmaceuticals, accelerated lab evolution
Electronic-biological interfaces, bioengineered personal stem cells, humanized mice, bringing back extinct species
The diversity of life, constructing life, from Darwin to new fuels
The near future, big questions
Terraforming earth, creating extraterrestrials, the singularity, human nature
There goes your weekend.