Two relevant books from PACE

Two forthcoming books by MIT Press shed light on the ethics of artificial cells, and on the scientific undertaking of creating artificial cells. Both books were produced with the support of the EU- funded FP6 project on "Programmable Artificial Cell Evolution" (PACE).

  • The ethics of protocells: moral and social implications of creating life in the laboratory

    Edited by Mark A. Bedau and Emily C. Parke

    From the Preface:

    "Protocells are tiny, self-organizing, evolving entities that spontaneously assemble and continuously regenerate themselves from simple organic and inorganic substrates in their environment. A number of scientific teams around the world are racing to create protocells, and success is expected within a few years. Protocells raise a number of social and ethical issues, involving benefits to individuals and to society, risks to human health and the environment, and transgressions of cultural and moral prohibitions. This volume contains the thoughts of a diverse group of experts who explore the prospect of protocells from a variety of perspectives. Those perspectives include applied ethics in analytical philosophy, continental philosophy, anthropology, as well as political and social commentary. The book raises broad questions for a broad audience, without necessarily drawing final conclusions."

    Title page, Contents, and Preface of The ethics of protocells

  • Protocells: bridging nonliving and living matter

    Edited by Steen Rasmussen, Mark A. Bedau, Liaohai Chen, David Deamer, David C. Krakauer, Norman H. Packard, and Peter F. Stadler

    From the Introduction:

    "All life forms are composed of molecules that are not themselves alive. But how exactly do living and nonliving matter differ? Is there a fundamental difference at all? How could we possibly turn a collection of nonliving materials into something that is, at least operationally speaking, alive? This book is a compendium of the state of the art on attempts to answer these questions by building bridges between nonliving chemistry and emergent living states of matter. It focuses on attempts to create very simple forms of life in the laboratory."

    Title page and Contents of Protocells: bridging nonliving and living matter

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