A formal definition of Synthetic Biology

A study is being conducted to define various areas and aspects in the new field of “synthetic biology”. According to the report, “Synthetic biology is the engineering of biological components and systems that do not exist in nature and the re-engineering of existing biological elements; it is determined on the intentional design of artificial biological systems, rather than on the understanding of natural biology.”

I particularly do not like the phrase “rather than on the understanding of the natural biology”. Why shouldn’t we understand nature via tinkering and synthesizing it. As some wise man as said, “I listen, I forget. I write, I remember. I do, I understand.” How are we expected to learn biology, if we can predict or invent or make things.

Another point which the article highlights is this: “Biologists have identified three critical principles that must be present in any living system: They must be self-creating, self-organizing and self-sustaining.” The article/report also contrasts computer fields such as genetic algorithms,autonomous agents, neural networks and artificial intelligence with living systems, which I think is quite insane. They are essentially comparing information with matter. It is like saying if number system can ever be found (physically) in universe.

Click here to read the article.