Other Biological Futures | Issue 4, Journal of Design & Science. Edited by Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Natsai Audrey Chieza, Luis Campos, Steven Benner and Justinas Vilutis

Other Biological Futures: Other Genetic Alphabets

MIT Media Lab, MIT Press

As he works to add letters to the existing four-base genetic alphabet, chemist Steven Benner, at the Foundation For Applied Molecular Evolution, is synthesizing new forms of DNA and RNA that can support Darwinism, the mechanism for evolution that is perhaps the universal characteristic of biology. Historian of science Luis Campos, an associate professor at the University of New Mexico, has been relating the field of synthetic biology to its larger historical and cultural contexts since SB1.0, the field’s first international conference in 2004. Following his interest in astrobiology—the study of the origins and evolution of life on Earth and perhaps elsewhere in the universe—Campos was the NASA Baruch S. Blumberg Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress from 2016 to 2017.

In this conversation, Benner and Campos consider the social and scientific contingencies of the biology we have, and how life potentially existing on other planets or moons might be “other” already. Biology’s possibility space reminds us that we can go beyond pragmatic reinvention of industrial processes. As scientists rewrite life as we know it, science and speculation begin to merge. Can fiction provide other ways of thinking to help us reimagine the world? And what precedents can history reveal as we imagine what else is possible?

For full article go to Other Biological Futures.


Dr. Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Natsai Audrey Chieza


Conversation: Luis Campos and Steven Benner
Photography: Justinas Vilutis


Journal of Design & Science
Issue 4
Other Biological Features

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