Open Source, Genetically Engineered Machines From a Kit?
I don't often post, but most of the comments here are completely wrong. I'm a bioengineer and have been following this project since its inception. Some points:
- This technology is NOT any more effective or dangerous than "traditional" genetic engineering. You will not be able to make a unicorn, dragon, or some unholy dog/cat combination.
- Building an Über Death Virus from this takes just as much skill, equipment, and knowledge as it would using standard tools. First, the BioBricks are made for use inside of a living bacterial organism. They will not work without a cell to operate in. A virus, by contrast, is just a specialized collection of proteins that is not in any way alive - something very very different from BioBricks.
"But what about a killer bacteria?" I hear you ask. Well, while technically possible, it's not easy to make something that can live comfortably in our bodies. To a foreign bacteria, our bodies are a fortress crawling with guards and death traps. It has taken nature millions of years to develop microbes capable of harming us (as our immune systems have also grown to combat each new threat.) The key point here is that, to create a NEW bacterial threat, one would have to be very well versed in biology and genetic engineering. What's more, for someone of this skill level, it would be much easier to create such a bacteria using standard biological techniques, not BioBricks.
These BioBricks are incredibly cool and powerful, within their problem domain. Making bacteria do things is very different from giving them the ability to successfully harm our bodies and spread to other hosts.