More than 3.5 billion years after nature transformed non-living matter into living things, populating Earth with a cornucopia of animals and plants, scientists say they are finally ready to try their hand at creating life.
If they succeed, humanity will enter a new age of "living technology," where harnessing the power of life to spontaneously adapt to complex situations could solve problems that now defy modern engineering.
Venice will host the world's first laboratory devoted exclusively to creating life when it opens in April. Established with a $9 million grant, the European Union's European Center for Living Technology will be staffed by European and U.S. researchers.
Here's more from the Sun-Sentinel story:
Scientists eagerly talk of a new world of ultra-small living machines, where marvelously made-to-order cells heal the body, clean up pollutants, transform electronics and communication, and much more.
The researchers say it may be possible to make sweaters that mend themselves. Or computers that fix their own glitches.
This has the potential to develop into general-purpose MM (molecular manufacturing), if they can make it programmable. They're apparently trying to. It's a very hard problem, but fast computers and genetic algorithms could make it easier. Making larger objects/products will require additional work with a second kind of control system that we don't understand well at all, but are starting to; and also it will require the design/construction of organs, which we're just starting to learn about.
Overall, this approach doesn't look as powerful as diamondoid MM. First, the materials are inherently limited (unless they can figure out how to make graphene organically, which may be possible). Second, there is an inherently analog link in the control chain, so they will have trouble precisely specifying properties--or they will have to invent a new kind of information theory, which I can't picture but can't rule out either.
But yes, it's another very important development.
And the hits just keep on comin', folks.