Think of it this way — right now, around the globe, synthetic biologists are building novel organisms from scratch for an array of purposes in medicine, energy, agriculture, and other fields. The project I’m talking about, Human Genome Project-write (or GP-write, as the project is known), …
Yep. And they have been for how long now? The advances in the field have been incredible (according to them) and they have found cures for diseases (0 total cures), unlocked new energy sources (0 unlocked), enhanced crop yields in every agricultural sector (0% yield improvement in 0 sectors) and helped clean up radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel and other sources (0 radioactive waste cleaned up).
I used to think it could not be possible for anything to outdo technology and the computer sciences when it came to unsupported claims and unjustifiable hype until synthetic biology came along. The most upsetting thing about it is that it comes out of my own fields of research in molecular biology and microbiology.
Here is the fundamental problem. Nature has had close to 3.5 billion years to perfect biology through the relentless process of evolution by natural selection. We come along and think with 10–15 years of effort we are going to improve on it. The hubris of that is breathtaking and also reminds of the sort of thing some silicon valley tech genius would think is a great idea and a “no-brainer”. I have little doubt some of the techniques and research efforts of the persons working in this “field” will contribute at the edges of very specific areas. I am thinking mostly of some fermentation processes and possibly bioremediation efforts, but groundbreaking and world altering discoveries do not await.