«Living Machines» und die Synthetische Biologie

Ein Kommentar
Elemente der Naturwissenschaft 100, 2014, P. 85-95 | DOI: 10.18756/edn.100.85


Synthetic biology aims to construct artificial biological systems as means for human ends. This aim requires a corresponding underlying conception of life. In this context, the analogical transfer of properties promotes the creation of terms such as “living machine” in order to fill the lexical gap between living beings and technological artefacts. But is something like a “living machine” at all possible? This core term of synthetic biology is analysed using different approaches from the philosophy of biology and from technology. This comment article examines the properties of artificiality and technical functionality. This allows making clear distinctions between living beings and machines, thus showing that expressions like “living machine” within synthetic biology are not to be taken as proper terms, but as metaphors intended to implant new concepts into everyday language.

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