The text is enlightening and covers well its core subject, bur there are a number of small problems and a major one The small ones are illustrated by taking the Flynn effect seriously p 88 though it is very doubtful and surely too narrow and hubris statements such as humanity making an effort to colonize the universe p 252 Also, the statement that we continue our crusade for increased diversity p, 71 raises serious issues Too much diversity may well break human societies And reintroduction of Neanderthals p 141 would raise hair raising moral and legal problems and have unpredictably and not necessarily beneficial consequences I like the iconoclastic idea of very specialized and highly trained parenting well beyond the current random assignment of child to parent p 224 But this leads to the critical issue ignored in the book, namely who shall decide on and enforce glonslly required safeguards and regulations Thus, the statement than the march toward transhumanism, is not knowable in advance, it is at least within human control And that should be a comforting thought p 242 is daydreaming To globally control such processes, including in rogue states, requires nothing less than a strict global regime, up to a Conscientious Global Leviathan The book quotes, rightly so, the view of Kurzweil that future technological change will be so rapid and profound that it will constitute a rupture in the fabric of human history p 242 But it does not draw the compelling conclusion namely, as i put it in one of my books it is absurd to believe that everything is going to change, but politics will and can remain the same The statement probably no eugenics government control of genetic inheritance but heavily laden with W genics you eu genics, individual control over their own body genetics and euphenics changing traits by changing environments, drugs, and devices p 261 raises the right questions, but is not aware of its doubtful assumptions and raises harsh issues rather them coping with them A book on regenesis technologies is not obliged to consider socio political implications But the authors do make comments on them If so the fundamental question who shall make all the fateful choices should at least be raised Not doing so is, in my view, a serious lacunae But in no way does it diminish the excellence of the book as far as emerging gene engineering and related technologies are concerned.
Professor Yehezkel Dror
I ve met people who really like this book, and people who hate it I am one of the people who really liked it.
This is one of the most interesting science books I ve ever read with my major being molecular and cellular biology He brought up so many revolutionary, interesting things you can do with synthetic biology, from resurrecting extinct animals like the Pyrenean Ibex, to using E Coli to fight cancer Oh and biobricks Can t forget biobricks Or mirror life.
I will admit that it is very very long Not in terms of pages, but in terms of the complexity of his ideas Nothing in science is simple, and Church knows that I actually appreciated this A lot of science books out there dumb it down for the general population, but Church didn t at least not to the same extent We me being a researcher, it was really nice.
A bit of a dense book which is why I gave it only 4 stars But if you read it through, a world will open for you The book is about synthetic genetics how the advances that are happening right now, but especially in the decades to come, will change the world and blow your mind There is a lot in this book But I would like to just talk about my favorite part the iGEM competition iGEM is an international student competition for genetic engineering As Church says referring to the year 2005 , Undergrads were now doing things, largely in a spirit of fun, that professional molecular biologists would have been hard pressed to achieve a mere ten years earlier In the 2007 competition, the team from UC Berkeley engineered E coli to produce a blood substitute that could be freeze dried and stored, and then could be reconstituted and grown up in large volumes when needed In 2008, the grand prize winner was a Slovenian team from the University of Ljubljana which created a synthetic vaccine for the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers In 2006, the same Slovenian team had presented an idea for preventing infection of human cells by HIV In 2010 the competition had grown from the original four teams in 2005 to 130 teams from all over the world Asia 38 , Europe 38 , the US 37 , Canada 10 , Latin America 4 and Africa 1 The ideas presented by these student teams were amazing, inspiring, brilliant A team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Lausanne aimed to stop malaria propagation by acting on the vector, that is, the mosquito itself, by coaxing the bacterium that naturally lives in the mosquito s gut to express an immunotoxin that can prevent the malarial agent from infecting the mosquito, thereby eliminating transmission of the parasite to humans A team from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain had a plan to change the climate of Mars yes, the planet by building an engineered yeast, resistant to temperature changes and able to produce a dark pigment which will be responsible for a global temperature increase They received a gold prize for their efforts A team from the University of Washington in Seattle were attempting to synthesize antibiotics, starting with Anthrax for the competition In my view, this is an idea of staggering proportions given the current crisis in antibiotic resistance This same same team went on to win the North American competition the following year for engineering E coli to produce both diesel fuel and an enzyme to break down gluten in the digestive tract Also receiving a gold prize was a team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong for creating a living data storage system Apparently, you no longer need to rely exclusively on micro chips any to store an absurd amount of data in a small space And the big winner was once again the team from Slovenia for coming up with an assembly line molecule for DNA engineering I don t pretend to fully understand it, but Church likens it to the moment in the industrial revolution when standardized nuts and bolts, machine tools and assembly line production systems were introduced There was a time when to build a machine you had to build everything basically from scratch, custom made and hand tooled But around the turn of the 18th century a wave of standardized machinery became the norm, accelerating the process of invention and industrialization exponentially Apparently, the judges thought the assembly line molecule was potentially at that level of importance Church s larger point here is that we are on the cusp of assembly line genetic engineering Expect an explosion in innovation.