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Craig Venter On Living With Synthetic Life

Famed genome sequencer Craig Venter joins us to look at the brave new world of synthetic life.

J. Craig Venter. (Viking Publishing)

J. Craig Venter. (Viking Publishing)

In the spring of 2010, Craig Venter – the “richest and most powerful man in biotechnology,” he’s been called – announced the creation of a new life form.  Synthetic life.  Genetically coded on a computer, and popped to life.  Specifications dropped in by a human hand.  Self-replicating and ready to go.  It was a bombshell in biology circles.  The rest of the world is still taking it onboard.  Now Venter’s talking about it as a challenge to our understanding of life itself.  A boon, he hopes.  And maybe a teleporter, too.  Up next On Point:  Craig Venter on the advance of synthetic life.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

J. Craig Venter, molecular biologist and entrepreneur, author of “Life At the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life.” Founder and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute and of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (@JCVenter)

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Affairs: Biology’s Brave New World – “Looking at the strings of letters representing the DNA sequence for a virus called phi X174, which infects bacteria, he thought to himself, ‘I can assemble real DNA based on that computer information.’ And so he did, creating a virus based on the phi X174 genomic code. He followed the same recipe later on to generate the DNA for his larger and more sophisticated creature. Venter and his team figured out how to make an artificial bacterial cell, inserted their man-made DNA genome inside, and watched as the organic life form they had synthesized moved, ate, breathed, and replicated itself.”

NBC News: Genomics pioneer Craig Venter warns about biohacker boo-boos — “As Venter points out in his book, ‘Life at the Speed of Light,’ he’s not the only one worried about biohacker boo-boos. Almost three years ago, a presidential commission on bioethics raised concerns about the risk of “low-probability, high-impact events” such as the creation of a doomsday virus. Bioterror is one aspect of the issue, but Venter says he’s also concerned about bio-error — ‘the fallout that could occur as the result of DNA manipulation by a non-scientifically trained biohacker or ‘biopunk.””

The Guardian: ‘This isn’t a fantasy look at the future. We are doing the future’ – “A reader could be forgiven for thinking the book is really aimed at the Nobel prize committee, but Venter claims he just wants more people to understand him. ‘One of the motivations for the book is to put this in a historical context because of all the confusion out there when we did it,’ he says. ‘I think the work that we have done with the first genome in history, the human genome and with the first synthetic cell is certainly of the world caliber that obviously earns big prizes.’”

Read An Excerpt of “Life At the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life” by J. Craig Venter

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  • Expanded_Consciousness

    The end of natural life starts in our time.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Man, that’s ominous. Sounds like the intro to a scary dystopic movie.

      • Don_B1

        Just a reflection of the movies on all the cable channels now, in celebration of Halloween.

      • fun bobby

        a lot of things lately seem very distopian

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Any engineered autonomous agent, organic or inorganic, capable of replicating without limit, poses a threat to life as we know it when the subtle flaw in the clever plan of its creator becomes painfully apparent. Is an apocalypse worth the risk?

    • TyroneJ

      Unfortunately, human life as we know it poses a threat to life on this planet. Kind of says to any Creationists (or ID-folks) that it’s creator really screwed up.

      • fun bobby

        its funny you feel qualified to decide what Gods ultimate goal is and to determine that he screwed up

    • fun bobby

      flaw? is robot evolution a feature or a bug in God’s plan? this is an example of how the longer it takes for our society collapse to happen the weirder it will be.

  • Jasoturner

    My working assumption is that “synthetic” life is achievable. If and when it is demonstrably created, it will promote a fascinating debate in the arenas of religion and philosophy. I don’t know that religion can accommodate the ramifications of synthetic life, but it could be fertile and fascinating ground for philosophy.

    It may also say enormous things about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, although that remains to be seen. If we can uncover alternate biologic pathways to self-replication, it could greatly broaden our expectations.

    • fun bobby

      most people can’t comprehend the changes this will bring. what’s sure is while they are debating it the technology will outpace the ethical debate

  • Ed75

    Synthetic life doesn’t pose difficulties for religion. It does give us new respect for matter by itself and its potentialities. Even matter is oriented toward life, has the potential for life.

    • Don_B1

      But In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) does?

      • Ed75

        Synthetic life doesn’t pose problems for religion in that the argument that ‘we don’t need God to explain how life exists so there is no God’ isn’t valid. About IVF, there are a number of reasons why it’s very wrong. First, there are embryos created, human beings, who aren’t selected and which are allowed to die. They sometimes put several embryos into the womb hoping that one will grow, the others die, or if they all grow, sometimes some are killed. Also, on a less gruesome level, a human being has a right to know that he or she is the product of a loving relationship between a man and a woman, and of their willed intimacy, this is part of a person’s groundedness in the world, and in this intimacy it’s inappropriate for a technician to step inbetween as a third party. When IVF was first developed, the Vatican condemned it within a week.

  • Yar

    It seems like we are much more likely to stumble onto a biological version of Kurt Vonnegut’s Ice Nine. Just ask the American Chestnut.

  • Charles Vigneron

    What could go wrong‽

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      What could possibly go wrong with atomic energy?

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        How about just global warming? We can’t even solve that.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          I have a list of ten modern plagues that we can’t seem to wrap our collective brains around.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    We nearly destroyed humanity with nuclear war on a mumber of occasions. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed. What makes anyone think that bioengineering protocols and technology will save us from the hubris of a researcher hell bent on winning a Nobel prize or cashing in big on stock options?

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Yeah, this guy reminds me of Edward Teller who wasn’t satisfied with just the A-bomb and then the H-bomb but wanted really badly to develop the neutron bomb – that would kill only people, animals, and vegetation, but leave cities intact. Man, what a great technology THAT would have been (especially in the hands of Iran or North Korea).

  • JasonB

    talk about the ease of making chemical and biological weapons.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I posit that our adaptation to iPhones and iPads is a form of devolution. I don’t remember, I don’t recall, I can’t spel anithing at awl. Cant add, subtract or mutiply, but i sure can divide on a social networking forum. And then there’s the rapid degradation of social skills in generation Xt.

    • the anti-Emily

      “m. And then there’s the rapid degradation of social skills in generation X” Evidence?

  • Bigtruck

    “No job too dirty for the f*cking scientists” -W Burroughs

  • JasonB

    Wait. is he suggesting people will produce and administer vaccines and medications in their homes?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Decades ago, the Wall Street Journal began transmitting electronic copies of its paper to regional printing locations around the country. Now you can read it directly on your PC or wireless mobile device.

      3-D printing comes next, being an evolutionary step from CAD (Computer Aided Design) in the machine shop or plastic fabrication plant.

      Soon, food preparation in the automated kitchen, basic inorganic chemistry, and eventually organic chemistry and biochemistry will follow suit.

      • JasonB

        True, but I could do this now. At lease, I know how to. I know the sequence of insulin for example is very small and easy to work with and I’m familiar with how to put the gene into a plasmid and introduce it into an existing bacteria, much the way it’s now done in factories. However, I think the federal government would have a problem with me doing this in my home. Also, I’ve never heard of people administering their own vaccinations.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          Diabetics do routinely inject themselves.

          To the extent that marijuana is now approved for medicinal purposes, people are allowed to grow their own.

          People have been brewing alcoholic beverages at home for centuries. Same with cheese-making.

          Some of these activities are regulated (to varying degrees) by law. Some have been around since before humankind invented the rule of law.

          • JasonB

            It’s funny you mention those things, With the exception of injecting insulin growing pot, I do everything you listed. None of those things allows me to make a biological or chemical weapon with a simple hack. Now, anyone with a little know-how, equipment, and perserverance can make a weapon, but this would take making a weapon to a whole new level of ease.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            You’ve probably never made a poison dart, but that’s pretty low tech.

          • JasonB

            Maybe I have, but with said dart I can kill only one persone at a time. With the right bacteria, I can kill tens of thousands.

          • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

            Including yourself, your loved ones, your tribe, and your other colleagues, friends, and allies.

            In multi-player role-playing parlance, we call that at Total Party Kill.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      They can’t even figure out their remote controls or remember the names of their Congress people and they are going to be able to do this??!!!

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Here’s the solution to our world overpopulation problem!!! Pandemic by design.

  • hennorama

    I’m not sure whether to be amazed by, or terrified of, a “digital biological converter.”

    Or both.

  • Saighead

    Delusional hubris

  • JasonB

    I’m a molecular biologist. So far his vision frightens me. It’s like the splitting of atoms. Sure, we can make electricity with it, but that also lead to an arms race and Fukushima-type meltdowns that no one anticipated. Now he’s talking about making synthetic life in your very own home? How long will it take for the first hacker to create a very dangerous microorganism?

    • the anti-Emily

      The Fukushima meltdown was anticipated. It’s just that Japan’s regulatory and economic power players never turned that anticipation into prevention. Fukushima was a nuclear version of the BP oil spill.

      • JasonB

        You’re really just emphasizing my point. Something like this would ultimately be used carelessly.

        • the anti-Emily

          It’s easier to destroy something with technology than it is to build something with it.

  • ThirdWayForward

    The DNA code is digital, but what it produces is all analog (which is much more useful in changing the real world than a string of symbols).

    Digital information always needs to be converted to analog physical effects in order to do anything (other than symbol manipulations).

    As a bunch of people on this comment board have already pointed out, It is potentially dangerous to experiment with self-replicating systems. A really successful self-replicant could cause mass extinctions.

    Long ago there was a science fiction novel/film, No Blade of Grass, on the effects of a virus that takes out wheat crops creating massive famines,

    Recently there was a chilling Frontline on “superbugs” that have evolved (the old-fashioned way) resistance to all of our antibiotics.

    Can we be careful enough?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      We’re in something of a double bind. If we don’t rely on pesticides and fungicides, our food supply is in danger.

      If we do rely on biocides, we run the risk of unintended consequences (such as killing desirable insects like bees).

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Oil-spewing algae = “Ice Nine” ????

  • ToyYoda

    When mapping the genome, Venter’s company used publicly available research to speed up his mapping. Right now, Craig Venter just talks about how he used research published by Chinese researchers to further his latest projects.

    I understand that Veter likes to commercially his accomplishments and I would like to know how he contributes back -economically- to the community who gave him vital information for free.

  • Labropotes

    Freeman Dyson says bioengineering will really take off when children are able to play with it at home.

  • Coastghost

    How exactly does Dr Venter’s research programme fail to presage the utter and entire end of sexual reproduction for all species that reproduce sexually?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Sexual reproduction simply means that offspring combine genetic traits from two parents (each of whom, in turn, combined genetic traits from their two parents, and so on).

      Synthetic life (or modified life) will integrate and hybridize traits from two or more sources, thereby reifying the benefits of sexual reproduction.

      • Coastghost

        My query remains: at what point, at what time, is “natural sexual reproduction” forbidden and prohibited in order to take advantage of a means of reproduction deemed superior in its ability to aggregate genetic or biological outcomes? I cannot imagine the advent of synthetic reproduction without some accompanying categorical imperative to mandate its use and to forbid “lesser” natural capability.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          The Rule of Law is not as powerful a tool for social regulation as you might fear.

          There have already been guests on Tom’s program who have declared that the Rule of Law is virtually kaput as a viable means for social regulation in 21st Century human culture.

  • ThirdWayForward

    It is easy to be fearful about all this, but on the other hand we went through this in the1970′s (Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, 1975) when recombinant DNA was new (and a one-year moratorium was called to pause and evaluate the dangers).

    Fortunately nothing bad seems to have arisen from either recombinant DNA or the moratorium. At least nothing obvious.
    Maybe we shouldn’t be so fearful.

    • JamesG

      Recombinant DNA is a pretty crude technology compared to detailed synthesis. It is an “analog” technique where you have to have the original organisms that you are trying to combine, and then tease out via trial and error the traits you are looking for. With DNA sequencing and the biochemistry knowledge we now have, it is much more precise and “portable” as described.

      • ThirdWayForward

        Yes, but at the time, we didn’t know about introns and all of the complexities that artificial transcription-translation would entail. But I thought then that eventually the technology would be mastered to the point where it becomes easy and routine for anyone to do it, and on industrial scales. That’s when it becomes dangerous. Maybe we are reaching that point only now.

        I go back and forth between apocalyptic and hopeful moods — when I feel down, I remember that we didn’t have any nuclear wars, and that the world is a much safer place than it was during the height of the Cold War.

        Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

  • majorml

    There is a much simpler misuse of this technology that the creation of new life forms. Venter said that a virus genome from China was sent to the USA over the internet. What would prevent sending genomes for existing pathogens around the world for nefarious purposes? That could happen before sending newly engineered pathogens — although modifying existing pathogens probably would not be far behind.

  • ThirdWayForward

    There is a thoughtful commentary about these kinds of experiments and steps we should collectively take to ensure safety.
    http://mbio.asm.org/content/3/5/e00354-12.full

    Citation Falkow S. 2012. The lessons of Asilomar and the H5N1 “affair.” mBio 3(5):e00354-12. doi:10.1128/mBio.00354-12

  • Tom

    We already have the solutions to problems, and they are natural, but the scientific and entrepreneurial world is not interested in these solutions. They are actually against them.

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      What are the known solutions to the systemic problems of conflict, violence, oppression, injustice, corruption, poverty, ignorance, alienation, suffering, and terrorism?

    • fun bobby

      too hard to monopolize unless you are monsanto

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    “I know more thoughtful people in science than I do in fishing.” ~Craig Venter

    And I know a lot more thoughtful (and ethical) people in science than I know of in politics.

    • JamesG

      More hubris.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      He’s not looking for the right fishermen.

  • hennorama

    Gotta say … this show is exactly why I contribute to public radio.

  • 65noname

    In answer to the suggestion that this could turn into an ecological disaster, such as private enterprise fishing the oceans to death, such as is going on now, this guy says that he believes that somehow, ultimately synthetic life won’t be turned into an evolutionary nightmare because he has “faith” in those developing it. His blindness to the corporate entities that will take control of this technology is itself is a reason for taking this research out of his hands even the announcer, normally someone who refuses to acknowledge that coprorate forces will destroy anything in the process of increasing their wealth, was cynical about this guy’s “faith” in capitalism and the ability of scientists to resist the forces of corporate interests bent on aquiring all wealth despite what might happen to the world.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      He also assumes that we will be able to “fix” the problems. That’s just it – evolution either fixes things – or it does NOT. The “fix” has to be discovered by what happens. To presume that we even know the right questions to ask – let alone know the right answer – IS THE PROBLEM.

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        Exactly!! This guy and others might have the knowledge necessary to create all kinds of things, but it is clear that no one on this earth has the wisdom needed to do it safely and ethically (and we may need a few centuries more before we get there). This guy’s hurry to be first, is nothing short of terrifying!

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      I don’t even know were to begin in describing the problems with this narcissistic man’s obsession with “engineering” new life, before we have the wisdom to do this correctly – if ever at all! I think it will be at least 50-100 years before we attempt this in any kind of extensive way and especially in any kind of commercial way. One of the worst applications possible would be the creation of oil-spewing algae!!!! We can’t even manage the blue/green algae explosion that has been largely caused by man’s prior technological “experiments” (that have lead to uncontrollable global warming and insatiable desires for more and more energy). Let’s solve our existing problems first (using existing technologies) before venturing into new technologies that could have even bigger problems.

  • WHW111

    Will we get/need or prevent another Werner von Braun? Mistakes were made, but not by him.

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen
    • The_Truth_Seeker

      The comparison to Edward Teller (the A-bomb lover) might be more apt. I think he (secretly) thought developing bigger and bigger nuclear bombs also was ‘great fun’, as well. People that think developing potentially earth destroying technologies is “fun” are seriously dangerous in my mind and need to get lots of oversight.

      • WHW111

        Point taken.

  • WHW111

    Werner in 1945 changing sides.

    • ThirdWayForward

      “We aim for the stars, but sometimes we hit London.”

      • JamesG

        LOL

      • WHW111

        Und Rotterdam and our FIRESTORMS & A-Bombs were very popular.

  • pdooley

    Highly infective flu genomes have already been transmitted and converted into organisms. In his book, Craig Venter quotes Erwin Schrodinger, prompting me to ask with regard to bioterrorism, is the cat already out of the bag?

  • fun bobby

    and so it begins

  • fun bobby

    good point this technology is much simpler

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      It sort of begs the question of how much damage a single actor with limited knowledge and resources can unleash — something on the order of a Noahide Flood, perhaps.

      • fun bobby

        the soviets were actively creating new biological weapons until 91. if anything like what they made was recreated or released it would be pretty impossible to counteract

      • JamesG

        The problem is that the internet allows near unlimited knowledge and ready access to global resources. Now combine that with “push button” technology and a bad attitude…

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Yeah … the best way to study possible life on Mars would be to “fax” it back to earth (to save money and time)!! What a genius ;-) !!!

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Oil-spewing algae = “Ice Nine” ????

    Has Venter ever read Vonnegut? And isn’t it so noble and “charitable” for him to work so hard on this particular goal? Let’s compare what this guy does (for money) to what Jonas Salk did with all his knowledge. I don’t think he developed the Polio vaccine because it was “fun”, or “profitable” for him!!! Is Venter going to give away his oil producing algae?

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Why doesn’t Venter FIRST develop bacteria or algae that can convert CO2 back into coal faster??? That might be a lot more useful and potentially safer (since as CO2 levels decline, they will die off)

    • fun bobby

      no money in coal right now

  • andrewgarrett

    A lot of the comments show that strange self-hatred, or species-hatred, of the anti-science Left. You’d likely be now dead or have never been born had scientists not developed medicine and industrial agriculture – roughly half of your loved ones wouldn’t be alive. So if you can pick half of your loved ones that you wish weren’t here, fine. Otherwise, why the hatred against science? It’s as though they hope that humanity gets wiped out. Or at least the rest of humanity – they want to keep modern medicine and technology for themselves but don’t want further advances, and don’t want technology used in the developing world. 10 billion people will be here soon regardless – wouldn’t it be better if we can feed them and cure their ailments, rather than reversing the technological clock back a century, to the point that some erroneously see as a golden age?

    • JamesG

      Where you see hate, others see a prudent caution with technology that has as many potential dangers as potential benefits.

    • Andrew John Di Liddo

      Its the RIGHT that is ANTI Science, not the LEFT!

  • JamesG

    That’s classified. LOL

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    I dunno if Timothy McVeigh had above average intelligence, but he did quite a bit of damage with readily available non-nuclear chemical reactions.

    • JamesG

      The point being is even if you know how to build an atomic weapon it doesn’t matter if you can’t get a hold of enough fissile material for it even if you had a CNC or printer for everything else.

      AFAWK, there is no such restriction on “assembling” a synthetic organism. The stuff in a bacteria, one of your cells, or a unstoppable pathogen is all the same.

  • fun bobby

    will society be asked?

    • StilllHere

      Isn’t their telephone number unlisted?

  • fun bobby

    hal is not that much more advanced than cerie

  • StilllHere

    It might if it’s The Nation.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    I like a good Halloween story just like anyone else, but didn’t Mary Shelley already write this one? I don’t think it ended well.

    • ExcellentNews

      There is a difference between a story and REAL life, which has been greatly improved by science and technology. It is ironic BTW that you use a picture of Nicola Tesla, another great innovator who brought much of modern electric machinery to the world. Without such work, you may still be telling scary stories wrapped in animal skins in a cave…

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        I am both a scientist and inventor but the difference between people like Venter and me is that I spend a LOT of time thinking about (and worrying about) how anything I might come up with could be used for bad as well as good and whether the bad “could” outweigh the good (as nuclear weapons did) and whether there should be ethical limits and regulations placed on such work BEFORE they are needed (and it might be too late).

        Also, the REAL “difference” between what people like Venter are engaged in and what most scientists and inventors discover and create, are that the later don’t create “self-replicating” technologies and inventions. Even the A-bomb couldn’t self-reproduce!! Did you bother to contemplate that – very important – difference? Also, I use Tesla as an example of a “good” inventor, over Edison (a very mean and “bad”) inventor, because Tesla didn’t torture and kill animals just to advance his interests and inventions (the way that Edison did). Tesla cared both about people and animals, whereas Edison didn’t care about either (just his own fame and money).

  • JamesG

    Or… if we could create synthetic food sources that took up less natural resources so that the natural biosphere could catch a break…
    Human population pressures are a separate issue, and one that I fear would be little affected by food sources until it got to a crisis point.

  • Jellogum

    “By 1978 I could write, “Compared to almost any other object that starts with the letter D, DNA is very safe indeed. Far better to worry about daggers, dynamite, dogs, dieldrin, dioxin, or drunken drivers than to draw up Rube Goldberg schemes on how our laboratory-made DNA will lead to the extinction of the human race.”

    James D. Watson, DNA The Secret of Life (New York: Alfred A. Knope, 2004) 104.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    There is scant evidence to support the thesis that Homo Schleppians are rational critters. My colleague, Dan Ariely, has made a career of demonstrating how much our fellow brethren depart from rationality.

  • ExcellentNews

    Godspeed, Dr. Venter! The work done by your institute, as well as by other researchers around the world, offers genuine hope for mankind – hope for a better future, where we can overcome the limitations and pains of our biology. It is wonderful we live at times when we can not only dream, but also make some dreams real.

    • The_Truth_Seeker

      Yeah, it’s really mostly about the money! He’s developing oil producing bacteria/ You think that is to bring down the cost of oil, or solve the global warming problem (even if it might help in a VERY small way)? How about if these things mutate (like “Roundup”-ready wheat), so that it can spread and cover all our oceans (like blue/green algae is starting to do)?

      Why isn’t he spending MOST of his time on cancer research and solving that problem first? He seems to enjoy a challenge and likes to have “fun”.

  • ExcellentNews

    So you propose to let the surplus billions starve? The solution to population pressure is planning, not starvation.

  • The_Truth_Seeker

    Yeah, it’s really mostly NOT about the money!

    One of his main goals is to develop oil producing bacteria for the oil companies. You think that is so that it will bring down the cost of oil, or solve out massive global warming problem (even if it might help in a VERY small way)? How about if these things mutate (like “Roundup-ready” wheat is already doing), so that it can spread and cover all our oceans (like blue/green algae is starting to do)?

    Why isn’t he spending MOST of his time on cancer research and solving that very important and terrible problem first? He seems to enjoy a challenge and likes to have “fun”, so why not give us a cure to at least one cancer first (and donate it for free like Salk did with his vaccine)?

    • ExcellentNews

      We are all motivated by different things – some by money, some by love of knowledge, some by fame, most of us by all of the above. The fact remains that Dr. Venter’s work is bringing a TOOL that could be game-changing for humanity. Do not judge the tool based on morality, because tools have none. Instead, make sure the tool is used to its fullest potential to do good.

      • The_Truth_Seeker

        So you will be OK with disgruntled high school kids making their own bio-weapons (instead of just maybe getting their hands on an assault weapon)? Yeah, that’ll work out great!!

        Almost no one has the wisdom to use and control the use of powerful technologies. I sure don’t have the wisdom to do it and I KNOW that Venter couldn’t really care less – he’s having too much “fun”. At least 100 other people could be doing exactly what Venter is attempting, but most want to go slow.

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