This research is a problem.
we report a bottom-up construction of dynamic biomaterials powered by artificial metabolism, representing a combination of irreversible biosynthesis and dissipative assembly processes. An emergent locomotion behavior resembling a slime mold was programmed with this material by using an abstract design model similar to mechanical systems. Dynamic properties, such as autonomous pattern generation and continuous polarized regeneration, enabled locomotion along the designated tracks against a constant flow. Furthermore, an emergent racing behavior of two locomotive bodies was achieved by expanding the program.
So, they built synthetic life that is moving. Great. And it appears to be racing its own kind for resources. Seems like racing for resources is something we already have a lot of on this planet.
This is exactly the kind of research we must strictly control.
Synthetic life, and creating physical entities that use biological methods of evolution to improve, is an existential threat to our species and in fact, all life. We don’t even need to get to grey goo to be terrified of this potential. Life engineered in this way might not be susceptible to natural evolutionary pressures that keep normal carbon life in check.
The question is not do these researchers have the right intentions. The question is, what happens when someone with bad intentions takes their research and turns it into their own?
A nuclear weapons is powerful but kills without targeting. A specific entity that was bred and created to target a specific race will spell the end of our species.
Pick a race: white European, Chinese, Jewish, etc. If there is a way to genetically identify this race, there is someone willing to devote their lives to killing all of them. Genocide is in our blood as surely as Goodwill is.
Now, imagine a synthetic lifeform released into the environment that targets you. And your children. And kills them all.
We have banned the use of gas, nuclear, and biological weapons. But for all these bans, these items still cause substantial harm. We can’t risk the kind of weapons that can be created with synthetic organisms.
International governing bodies need to step in now and strictly regulate this kind of research. I understand the potential for great upside, so let’s see the Government do their jobs and prevent the downsides.
We don’t let just any group of researchers experiment with nuclear weapons. We should not let these researchers threaten all of our lives to fulfill their own curiosity.
Render by Mike Winkelmann