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The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology

Amy Webb, Andrew Hessel

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Genetics (non-medical)

The breakthrough science of synthetic biology and its potential for helping solve humanity's existential challenges, from climate change to the health and feeding of millions, and fighting the next viral outbreak before it becomes a global pandemic.

Synthetic biology promises to reveal how life is created and how it can be re-created, enabling scientists to rewrite the rules of our reality. It could help us, for example, heal without prescription medications, grow meat without harvesting animals, or confront our looming climate catastrophe. Synthetic biology will determine the ways in which we conceive future generations and how we define family, how we identify disease and treat aging, where we make our homes, and how we nourish ourselves. Soon, we will program living, biological structures as though they were tiny computers.

But who should decide how to engineer living organisms? Whether engineered organisms should be planted, farmed, and released into the wild? Should there be limits to human enhancements? Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel's riveting examination of synthetic biology and the bioeconomy provide the background for thinking through the upcoming risks and moral dilemmas posed by redesigning life, as well as the vast opportunities waiting for us on the horizon.

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