Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Earth News Science Technology

Scientists Hold A Secret Meeting To Consider Creating A Synthetic Human Genome (gizmodo.com) 153

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The New York Times, summarized by Gizmodo: Earlier this week, over a hundred scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs held a secret meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome. Creating a synthetic human genome differs from gene editing as scientists would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes, instead of patching a gene here and there. Synthetic genomics, unlike genetic modifications, in that it doesn't use naturally occurring genes. Instead, it relies on the custom-designed base pair series. Currently, customers view synthetic genomics as a way to build novel microbes and animals, but with humans it raises the prospect of custom-designed humans, without any parents. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of the organizers of the proposed project, says the characterization was a misunderstanding, and that the project was aimed to generally improve the ability to synthesize long strands of DNA, which could be applied to various types of animals, plants and microbes. "They're painting a picture which I don't think represents the project," Dr. Church said in an interview. The project was initially called "HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project." However, the name was later changed to "HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes In Cells." Why the change? Because the original headline was suppose to be headline-grabbing, or so they say.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Hold A Secret Meeting To Consider Creating A Synthetic Human Genome

Comments Filter:
  • It's not a secret anymore.
  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday May 13, 2016 @11:44PM (#52110091)
    Sounds like adding "secret", "confidential" , "undisclosed" to [insert story or device here] is the trendy way to get something reaching the largest public..
  • The plot of Weird Science comes to mind. Bad dick; go to sleep!

  • Why not start small like with a squirrel? or anything else that won't be able to sue after it grows up...

    Or we're they just talking about trying to get the DNA to assemble?

    Either way are they planning to make use of the new letters?
    https://science.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

  • I'll be done soon enough, might as well get it over with.

  • It even appeared on /.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday May 14, 2016 @01:49AM (#52110395)

    The Right To Life types will go absolutely berserk over this. The whole religious underpinning of the movement...the one they never like to talk about...will have to decide whether a human created by man should enjoy the same protection as a human created by their god.

    And when there's no sperm and egg union to enshrine as the moment when life begins, where will they draw the line? At what point during the assembly process does the thing in the dish deserve to be called human? A chimp shares all but 4% of our DNA, after all.

    This should be fun!

    • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @02:38AM (#52110481)

      You say this as if they are going to engineer a human being in our lifetime. Maybe your naturally conceived grand children can use your "Popcorn stock" before they die of old age at 400+ years old,but I don't think even they will see the glorious immaculate conception you are hoping for..

    • by Empiric ( 675968 )
      will have to decide whether a human created by man should enjoy the same protection as a human created by their god

      What protection do you think you have now, and why?

      Since I know you won't invoke a "soul", show me your "has rights" DNA sequence in contrast to other animals' "does not have rights" sequence.

      Bonus points if you are a vegetarian, and thus not a total lifelong hypocrite.
      • Read again.. He is not the one who thinks us "genuine" humans have any more rights than some lab grown flesh..
        • by Empiric ( 675968 )
          More consequential is that you read again.

          He said, "O Lord, there are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the cistern."
          • Great...does this mean I now get to quote from a more important book...like one of the Harry Potter volumes, or maybe "Letters From The Earth"?

            • by Empiric ( 675968 )

              Sure.

              In fact, we should even then restudy your quote, say, in 150 years.

              Pencil you in? Bring friends.

              • You think you'll be around then? LOL. The only hope of an afterlife is if we figure out how to do it ourselves...maybe by downloading our mind into some kind of computer.

                And then, yet again, humans will have stuffed god into an even smaller box, and made believers look even more foolish.

                • by Empiric ( 675968 )
                  You have what you believe, I have what I know.
                  • No, you have what you believe. I have what I can prove.

                    This is why so many religious people are worthy of nothing more than the pity of rational humans. Contempt and disgust are also options, when religious fanatics engage in the kind of dishonest nonsense that seems to be your meat and bread.

                    • by Empiric ( 675968 )

                      And what can you "prove"?

                      And do be aware that for anyone but an utter neophyte on the subject, nothing is "provable" outside of mathematics.

                      As I'm sure you have the typical profound ignorance of science as the one domain you can even poseur having worthwhile understanding of, typical of those with your worldview, understand that a "theory" is indeed just that. A provisional model permanently open to revision based on new evidence.

                      Show me what you can "prove".

                    • Do you speak English? Clearly you don't write it very well. No doubt this is part-and-parcel with your inability to understand science, mathematics or just about anything else having to do with rational thought.

                      Just for starters, you might want to review your understanding of the word "theory" as it applies to science. And poseur is a noun, not a verb, moron.

                    • by Empiric ( 675968 )

                      So, nothing you claim you can "prove". Nothing citing where I've exhibited any dishonesty whatsoever. Just empty claims of my lack of understanding of science or "rational thought". I assure you, as a professional software developer, I demonstrate my understanding of both daily. Your parroted overextension of the domains to which "proof" applies, though, is neither novel nor scientifically sound.

                      Any time you want to back up anything you've said, feel free. It's optional for now.

                      And no, your inability t

                    • A "professional software developer"???

                      ROFL

                      Yeah, that makes you a real, live scientist.

                      And I've forgotten more about language than you'll ever know. What you attempt to define as "informal usage", rational people call "blatant inaccuracy for the purpose of misdirection".

                    • In other words, you finally figured out that your attempt at an argument is stupid, illogical and dishonest.

                      Like you.

                      Thus, your attempt to label me a troll.

                      Nice try. And Bravo for replying as an AC, as though your manner of expression isn't recognizable. Like so many religious types, you remain your dedication to lies and deception right to the end.

                      Never mind pity. You have earned my disgust.

                    • by Empiric ( 675968 )

                      Your opinion on me or the topics you presume to address, cluelessly, means nothing, and has no effect anywhere other than as a typical time-wasting internet troll. Obviously, and even you are not too stupid to know this clearly while you state otherwise, I was posting AC due to device convenience, and absoluely obviously not an attempt to conceal who was responding.

                      Your goalless, pointless trolling cannot mean anything or have any consequence, even theoretically. According to either of our worldviews. If

                    • "I was posting AC due to device convenience, and absoluely obviously not an attempt to conceal who was responding."

                      Yes, of course. A soi disant "professional software developer" with a "device inconvenience", not a religious fanatic with a penchant for deception. No doubt you're also a chemist...one who's never heard of the Periodic Table.

                      "Lie on about my dishonesty you've yet to cite a single example of.

                      See above. Who are you going to sign in as next time? Jesus? Mother Teresa?

                      What you really are

                    • by Empiric ( 675968 )
                      (waits)
                    • Your failure to address your dishonesty speaks louder than any words.

                    • by Empiric ( 675968 )

                      There is no dishonesty, and you know it, idiot.

                      It's natural, and you're already clear that it's to absolutely everyone's benefit. Let evolution work. Soon.

      • Rights come from the responsibility of an individual to support himself, and from the type of beings that we are (who use our rational faculty to consciously direct our lives.) There is also an element of rights that identifies rights-holders as "being on our team", i.e. not destroying humans and not being utterly alien. (We can deal with the Jell-o creatures from Zorblatz-7 some other time, that's not the issue here.)
        Your vegetarian bias is just silly.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      The Right To Life types will go absolutely berserk over this. The whole religious underpinning of the movement...the one they never like to talk about...will have to decide whether a human created by man should enjoy the same protection as a human created by their god.

      Only if the resulting creation actually seems to exhibit a sufficient number of traits that are distinctly human-like. Does a synthetic person have a theory of mind once they get old enough? Can they question the universe around them and tr

    • I don't think right to lifers are shy about talking about religion, where do you get that? The idea of human life being "sacred" -- a religious term, meaning set apart/dedicated to God -- is common in the movement. As to whether or not it is possible to create "synthetic" life, I would point out that it that isn't at all what is being discussed here. What the scientists will be doing is more like "directed" life, using the framework of existing biological systems to manipulate and direct growth. Manipulatin

      • And all this time I thought that the scientist's parents created the scientist. Freakin' biology class! Nothing but a pack of lies!

      • Congratulations. You get an A+ for sophistry. They most certainly argue that their efforts aren't based in religion...because then they'd have to watch out about mixing church and state, and maybe getting their freeloading asses taxed.

        Amazing how many of Right to Lifers are in favour of capital punishment, though.

        And unless you can come up with some concrete proof that god even exists, insisting he made anything at all is simply ridiculous.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      HEY! That's marvelous. They're going to create a human without original sin! And therefore no need for salvation.

      • HEY! That's marvelous. They're going to create a human without original sin! And therefore no need for salvation.

        Not thinking forwards enough. Artificial person; no parents; no inheritance; another damn welfare brat!!! President Trump, outlaw this!!

      • Well played, sir. Well played indeed!

        If I was allowed to give mod points on a thread I posted in, I'd give one to you...more if I could get away with it.

    • The Right To Life types will go absolutely berserk over this. The whole religious underpinning of the movement...the one they never like to talk about...will have to decide whether a human created by man should enjoy the same protection as a human created by their god.

      And when there's no sperm and egg union to enshrine as the moment when life begins, where will they draw the line? At what point during the assembly process does the thing in the dish deserve to be called human? A chimp shares all but 4% of our DNA, after all.

      This should be fun!

      As Dr. Frankenstein said to Igor, "If this thing works we won't need women any more".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The best thing about synthetic genes is that they're patentable, unlike naturally occurring genes. I, for one, welcome our gene synthesizing corporate overlords.

  • by Al3s ( 2917287 )
    They are going to create The Emperor Of Mankind. It's about time.was
  • by 3LP ( 552899 )
    THE INSTRUMENTALITY BEGINS http://evangelion.wikia.com/wi... [wikia.com]
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      IIRC, the Instrumentality didn't begin with the creation of the under-people, though I'm not sure. Wasn't the Instrumentality a part of "The Game of Rat and Dragon" or "The Lady Who Sailed the Soul"? (Admittedly they both have sort of proto-underpeople.) Or possibly "Mark Elf", though they could have existed without being visible in that one, and it's really out of the straight line history, as normal humans had nearly disappeared.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @07:36AM (#52110931)

    and I can confirm the meeting was held at a secret base, located underneath a volcano.

  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Saturday May 14, 2016 @08:51AM (#52111069)

    Fifth Element did it! [wordpress.com] /SouthParkReference

  • It's everywhere in the press and the news. We call it "the Pulcinella Secret". Ah!
  • Scientists Hold A Secret Meeting

    This is the first hint that perhaps your research will not pass the ethics committee review.

    • That was the "ethics review committee". It actually had a number of ethicists in it. (Why is Firefox trying to change this to 'theists'? Does it know something?)

    • More like the first hint that some asshole decided to write a sensationalist headline and misrepresent anything that might have actually transpired, so at most I'd be willing to take from anything they wrote would be 'some people met to discuss genetics'

  • Every time a scientist calls another scientist is a secret meeting now? There's a difference between 'private' and 'secret', folks.
  • They're always up to something weird!

    I'm going to tell my kid to stay away from science and become a lawyer.

  • Why would you give your meeting a "headline grabbing" (but supposedly inaccurate) title, and then ban the press from attending? Why manipulate the title for the sake of sensationalism, and then keep it all secret?

    Someone is lying about something, I just can't tell which part is the lie. Are they lying about the title change? Are they lying about the true purpose of the meeting? Did the press lie about not being invited? When you have multiple "facts" that contradict each other, it's a sure sign that someth

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      That's only one possibility. Another is that there were different small groups setting things up, and they weren't communicating very well. So when everyone got together a lot of things got changed.

      OTOH, they did leave the name starting with HG... (They should have changed it to be "Huge Genome..." if they wanted to keep the initials.

  • Creating a human from all synthetic DNA would be a certain failure.

    There are huge parts of the genome we do not fully understand. For instance we have ancient viruses incorporated in an harmless form. Removing that sequences cause vulnerability more diseases [slashdot.org].

    The synthetic human will quickly die from a random disease that everyone else can cope with.

The rate at which a disease spreads through a corn field is a precise measurement of the speed of blight.

Working...