The Synthetic Kingdom
About this video
How our living kingdom could be the way forward for creating artificial systems.
Illustrated with animation by Cath Elliot, this video by designer Daisy Ginsberg explains why we’ll have to make room on the Tree of Life for an extra branch. Daisy’s work focuses on the intersection of design and scientific research, in particular synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology involves combining science and engineering to make artificial systems that mimic natural ones. Currently these systems are made using petroleum, but petroleum is harmful to the environment. Now, synthetic biologists are turning their attention to our living kingdom as a source of materials. Instead of using polluting petrochemicals scientists are starting with a feature from an existing organism, like keratin from a human hair or fingernail. By finding the particular strands of DNA that code for this feature and subsequently inserting it into an existing bacteria or a synthetic cell, scientists can create synthetic organisms that produce the desired material, product or tool.
Except for the fact that the synthetic organisms produced by these methods they were artificially created, they are no different to the living organisms that already exist in our world. As Ginsberg explains, we need to draw another branch on the Tree of Life.