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The Genesis Machine PDF

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The Genesis Machine PDF -The breakthrough science of synthetic biology and its potential for helping solve humanity’s existential challenges, from climate change to the health and feeding of millions, and fighting the next viral outbreak before it becomes a global pandemic.

Synthetic biology is the promising and controversial technology platform that combines biology and artificial intelligence, opening up the potential to program biological systems much as we program computers.

Synthetic biology enables us not just to read and edit DNA – the technique of CRISPR –  but also write it. Rather than life being “a beautiful game of chance”, synthetic biology creates the potential to control our genetic destiny, to say “no” to bad genes and build a veritable genetic app store for downloading and adding new capabilities into any cell, microbe, plant, or animal.

Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel’s riveting stories include: the work of scientists to develop plants that can be grown in sprawling indoor farms capable of feeding millions with a fraction of the usual resources required; a synthetic, self-regulating insulin that doesn’t require injections or a pump; life-altering regenerative, personalized medicine; and novel, durable solutions to climate change. There is also whimsy, such as the dream of some geneticists to “unextinct” the wooly mammoth.

By examining both the science and the ethical, moral, and religious issues surrounding synthetic biology, Webb and Hessel provide the background for preventing its misuse by some to reengineer their bodies and that of their children, further increasing the disturbing division and polarization of societies into the haves (the enhanced) and the have nots. They provide the background for making wise decisions about issues such as: whether to program novel viruses to fight diseases, what genetic privacy will look like, who will “own” living organisms, how companies should earn revenue from engineered cells, and how to contain a synthetic organism in a lab.

Whether we approve or disapprove of synthetic biology, it is coming. Now, we need to understand its promise and peril. Webb and Hessel help us understand the science as well as the political and societal issues involved.

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Description of The Genesis Machine PDF

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The Authors

The Genesis Machine PDF

Amy Webb advises CEOs of the world’s most-admired companies, three-star admirals and generals, and the senior leadership of central banks and intergovernmental organizations. Amy is CEO of the Future Today Institute, a leading foresight and strategy firm that helps leaders and their organizations prepare for complex futures. In 2021, FTI was named to the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. Amy Webb was named by Forbes as one of the five women changing the world, listed as the BBC’s 100 Women of 2020, and in 2021 was ranked on the Thinkers50 list of the 50 most influential management thinkers globally. Her latest book, The Genesis Machine, explores the futures of synthetic biology.

Amy is a professor of strategic foresight at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where she developed and teaches the MBA-level strategic foresight course with live case studies. She is a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University’s Säid School of Business, a Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, a Fellow in the United States-Japan Leadership Program and a Foresight Fellow in the U.S. Government Accountability Office Center for Strategic Foresight. She was elected a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

She is the author of several popular books, including The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. More about Amy Webb…

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Top reviews

Robert Morris “My undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate studies have been limited almost entirely to the humanities. However, I have developed a serious interest in synthetic biology and am deeply grateful to Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel for making me feel welcome and (yes) valued while accompanying them during an exciting as well as informative journey of discovery.

As they explain, “The Genesis Machine incorporates many different biotechnologies [moving parts], all of which were created to edit and redesign life [in coordination and synchronization]. A series of new biological technologies and techniques, which broadly fall under synthetic biology’s umbrella, will allow us not just to read and edit DNA code but to [begin italics] write it [end italics]. Which means that, soon, we will program living, biological structures as though they were tiny computers.” (Page 5)

Webb and Hessell then add, “Life is becoming programmable, and synthetic biology makes a bold promise to improve human existence. Our purpose in this book is to help you think through the challenges and opportunities on the horizon. Within the next decade, we will need to make important decisions: whether to program novel viruses to fight diseases, what genetic privacy will look like, who will ‘own’ living organisms, how companies should earn revenue from engineered cells, and how to contain a synthetic organism in a lab.”(Pages 6-7)

Note: Many of the central issues to be considered are suggested on Pages 8-9. For example, consider the first: “Those who can manipulate life can exert control over our food supply, medicines, and the raw materials required for our survival.” The material in The Genesis Machine can help global leaders to resolve economic, geopolitical, and social tensions.

Synthetic biology is bringing together engineers and biologists to design and build novel biomolecular components, networks and pathways, and to use these constructs to rewire and reprogram organisms. These re-engineered organisms will obviously change — in some instances disrupt — our lives over the coming years, leading to cheaper drugs, “green” means by which to fuel our cars, and targeted therapies for attacking “superbugs’ and diseases, such as cancer. The de novo engineering of genetic circuits, biological modules and synthetic pathways is beginning to address these crucial problems and is being used in related practical applications.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Webb and Hessel’s coverage:

o Introduction: Should Life Be a Game of Chance? (Pages 1-10)
o Recombinant DNA (19-20 and 248-252)
o The Factory of Life (22-26)
o Sequencing of genome (29-46)
o John Craig Venter (31-32, 35-43, 45-46, 106-107, and 147-149)

o George Church (69-77 and 75-80)
o Bioeconomy (95-99, 253-254, & 267-269)
o Biological Age (109-122 and 131-13e5)
o Genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) 124-125, 137-138, 155-156, 178-179, 182-183, and 186-187
o Risks associated with synthetic biology (137-141

o Chinese Communist Party (140-141
o Bioweapons/counterweapons (latter 142-143 and former 260-262)
o DYO kits for CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) 153-154 & 156-158
o Stifling of innovation (158-161)
o Golden Rice (170-!88)

o Halting of aging (177-181)
o Greenpeace (178-179, 182-183, and 185-186)
o Synthetic biology (205-213,
o Future of food culture (215-223)
o Colony Prize (227-236)

I agree with Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel: “If we can develop our thinking and strategy on synthetic biology today, we will be closer to solutions for the immediate and long-term existential challenges posed by climate change, global food insecurity, and human longevity.” They keep the “bold promise” quoted earlier while making a contribution to global thought leadership of incalculable value. Bravo!

I highly other sources that have also been great interest to me, listed in chrono order:

The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins (1976)

The Gene: An Intimate History (2016)
Siddhartha Mukherjee

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes (2018)
Adam Rutherford

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past (2019)
David Reich”

Karl A. Schmieder “We’re 22 years into the biotech century, and most people don’t realize the technologies for engineering life already touch our lives every day. Few understand how widespread synthetic biology’s impact will be – sparing no industry, country, nor individual.

THE GENESIS MACHINE provides a broad, easy-to-read overview of the fieldy. Futurist Amy Webb and synbio pioneer Andrew Hessel write that synthetic biology is at the point where Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone at Chickering Hall in 1877. The device was available, but the infrastructure that would make the phone a household item would take decades to build.

So it is with synbio: The clothes you wear and foods you eat are better because of biotechnology, but you (probably) didn’t know. The technologies of biology are advancing exponentially, it comprises 3 to 5% of the US Gross Domestic Product, and governments are competing for global dominance. But most of us remain unaware. As Hemingway said, gradually, then suddenly.

THE GENESIS MACHINE is a highly readable series of stories that not only gives an overview of the field, but it also gives one of the easiest to understand explanations of the backlash against genetic engineering. Specifically, the challenge of Golden Rice – a food designed to solve vitamin A deficiency, a serious problem in developing countries, that can lead to blindness and premature death. Misinformation campaigns created (by Greenpeace, among others) have delayed Golden Rice from being planted and benefitting millions for nearly 20 years.

Webb and Hessel also offer several scenarios around human genome editing, longevity, food bioreactors. These are smart. They allow you, as reader, to gain a feeling for what might be ahead. The chapter on restaurants serving bio-reactor-grown meats is so much fun.

Webb and Hessel call the book their own version of the Asilomar conference – the 1975 conference that brought together scientists from around the world to create a framework to guide recombinant DNA technology. They warn that businesses unprepared for this revolution will be disrupted. They also suggest scientists communicate more clearly to fight misinformation – something we’ve been living through during the COVID19 pandemic. Without a broader understanding of synthetic biology, the widespread benefits could be turned into another never-ending mis/disinformation camapaign. Education is key.

As a biotech professional, I can’t say enough good things about THE GENESIS MACHINE. It left me with a tremendous sense of optimism, and I will recommend it widely.”

Bobbi Rebell, Author, How to be a Financial Grownup “This book is absolutely riveting. At first I was a little intimidated but once you start reading, The Genesis Machine will open your eyes up to the future and so many fascinating possibilities- and pitfalls. The authors help us see why this matters to us now, and how we can help use the concepts to be more pro-active about all of our futures. I can’t wait for my friends and colleagues to read- so much to discuss and unpack!”



Reference: Wikipedia

The Genesis Machine PDF

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