Biology Is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life Paperback – May 15 2011
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Biology is Technology makes a tremendous contribution to public analysis of a very important emerging field. Although various commentators have discussed particular aspects of synthetic biology (e.g. risk regulation, intellectual property considerations), I am not aware of a book that encapsulates all of the varying strands of the debate. In addition, the book takes a set of provocative and interesting stances on the subjects that it addresses. It is obviously written by someone who has been a longstanding participant in, and commentator on, the field. Although I do not necessarily agree with all of the positions taken by the book, they are well-defended and thought through. (Arti K. Rai, Elvin R. Latty Professor of Law, Duke Law School)
Carlson clearly frames a fresh future for biotechnology. Each chapter, from technology trends to property rights and biosecurity conundrums, invites close reading and vibrant discussion. (Drew Endy, Stanford Bioengineering & The BioBricks Foundation)
Since Rob Carlson is THE authoritative tracker of progress in biotech, this book is the most complete---and exciting&mdashchronicle&mdash of the technological revolution that promises to dominate this century. (Stewart Brand, Author of Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto)
In this new book, bioengineer Robert H. Carlson forecasts the rise of the cell and the subsequent emergence of biological techniques for making fuels, synthetic DNA that builds new organisms, and reverse-engineered viruses for making vaccines. Biologists, Carlson says, are the new engineers, and the future is in remodeling life as we know it. (Wired 2010-03-01)
[Carlson] presents an informative view of the future prospects for biotechnology and its regulation. (Michael A. Goldman Nature 2010-04-22)
Biology Is Technology is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the current state of biotechnology and the opportunities and dangers it may create. (Alex Soojung-Kim Pang American Scientist 2010-11-01)
A thoughtful attempt to put what we think we know about biotechnology into a larger context, by a physicist-turned-bioentrepreneur. (The Economist 2010-12-04)
About the Author
Robert H. Carlson is a Principal at Biodesic LLC.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
From Keasling's entire engineered metabolic pathways to iGEM to Amyris's new fuel producing bacteria, the author has an excellent and informed perspective on the breakthroughs that are worth thinking about.
The author also describes in detail the difficult morass of patent and copyright law concerning biotechnology. His description of CAMBIA's "walled garden" is better than any I have read, even in books exclusively about open-source biotechnology. (Although there is currently only one, Biobazaar).
His description of garage biotechnology is sparse, mainly due to the above morass, and it would have been nice to have more details on the LavaAmp, this author's most recent work, which is a very cheap, reusable PCR device.
This book goes by fast, and is a must read for anyone looking to start or invest in a small biotechnology company, or anyone who wants to do it themselves.
Table of Contents:
1. What Is Biology?
2. Building with Biological Parts
3. Learning to Fly (or Yeast, Geese, and 747s)
4. The Second Coming of Synthetic Biology
5. A Future History of Biological Engineering
6. A Pace of Change in Biological Technologies
7. The International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition
8. Reprogramming Cells and Building Genomes
9. The Promise and Peril of Biological Technologies
10. The Sources of Inspiration and the Effects of Existing and Proposed Regulations
11. Laying the Foundations for a Bioeconomy
12. Of Straitjackets and Springboards for Innovation
13. Open-Source Biology, or Open Biology?
14. What Makes a Revolution?
At the end of each chapter I thought that the rest couldn't be as good, and was wrong each time. The logical progression was great, leading to clear questions, recommendations and suggestions for the way forward for various stakeholders. My copy is a mass of yellow highlighting and marginal notes. Very well done.
Recommended for anyone who was comfortable with any basic science course, especially organizational decision-makers. The text is very accessible and self contained.
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