Visions of Synthetic Biology

by Sara Reardon, Science

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A growing number of artists are attracted to synthetic biology as a technique and also because of the interesting ethical questions it raises. Many of these artists work directly with research scientists. Their creations add a cultural counterbalance to the field's tendency to view life like circuitry, a utilitarian perspective that increasingly drives synthetic biology and, they say, informs the public's understanding of it. They find themselves uniquely placed to ask hard questions about the ethical and social issues raised by synthetic biology. While special interests that want to either promote or condemn the nascent science have been eager to fund artistic interpretations of it, they are finding they may not get the results they hoped for. 

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