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Synthetic biology -- Human Practice

Poster for Our Human Practice!


Schedule Design for Our Human Practice!




Human practice in Yang Ming University involves two independent yet complimentary practice The first practice involves multiple individual interviews with professors from different fields including oncology, biomedicine, biochemistry, neuron, protein-engineering, and bioinformatics. Specific viewpoints from different perspectives into synthetic biology are sought by our team. Under these series of interviews we aim for gathering insights from different backgrounds of professors to rethink about the field: What is synthetic biology? How does it operate? And where should it be applied?

The second part of our human practice was the night event in Sep 16th. This “Human Practice Night”— was held for project-oriented discussion. We targeted the population of freshman who study in the departments of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Life Science, Dentistry, and Medical Engineering in our school and aimed for acquiring the teenage population's reflection about our project. After a brief introduction had been given on what iGEM is and how synthetic biology works, special focus was then given on neuro-ethics and mind-control issues - issues which are highly associated with our project.And a brand new approach-Role Playing Strategy is introduced to our discussion part.

By combining both practices we aim for building a thorough networks which wraps up every aspects of our project as well as its key role in synthetic biology.

Professor-Target Interview

Interview Structure

Multiple individual interviews with professors from different fields are oprated in process as below:

1. Basic and fundamental questions are asked regarding first image of synthetic biology. .

2. Short course

i. Brief explanation and description for synthetic biology and iGEM development history

ii. Standard synthetic biology example and applications on iGEM

iii.Bridge between synthetic biology to human practice: arising ethical issue and social impacts

3. Interdisciplinary linkage- insight or reflection into synthetic field driven from individual academic profession

The Very Initial Image

When you think of synthetic biology, the very initial image is,

1. One branch of genetic engineering

2. Agriculture or vaccine industry using bio-manufacturing techniques


3. Industrial chips that work on organisms which can be manufactured

4. Combination of different fields of biology to solve problems

5. Usage of new, non-biological, industrial materials to make cell Ex: making artificial membrane

6. Creating artificial life that do not exist

Special point : Traditional biology was to find a natural phenomenon and explain it, but synthetic biology, on the contrary, reverse the concept by making circuits based on known theory and test whether it works!

Social Impacts

The overall impacts of synthetic biology on general public may include but are not limited to:

1. The problem of artificial life, specifically artificial humans.

2. The enlarging wealth gap resulting from the capability differences between the upper and lower class people utilizing the field to harvest for their interest.

3. The accompanying social risks of crime as well as terrorism that would seek new opportunity for their intention.

Project-oriented discussion



When we send signals to one human brain and make him do things whatever we like, does it mean that his mind is under our impact, or is this just merely behavior manipulation, leaving the soul independent and solid? This is not only a medical problem, but also a philosophical one ...

Opening Survey

With regard to the neuro-ethics part which highly concerns our 2011 project, high interests and attention are given by the attending colleagues, with 71% of members expressing high interest. Below are the different perspectives toward the mind-control’s ethics issue.



Brand-New Approach: Role-Playing Strategy

Role-Playing Strategy is a strategy that we assign different roles to each participants who attend our convention. Participants are encouraged to express their ideas and insights based on their roles and give comments centering our main theme which includes

1. Synthetic neurobiology

2. Patent application in synthetic field

3. Project-associated neuroethics

Below are the results of role-playing strategy which help us probe all aspects of neuron-stimulation’s ethics issue:

1. Law maker: When neuron-stimulation system has developed to a state that human mind control is possible, the field and its application on human beings should be restricted in legislation to prevent arousal of ethic dilemma and crime.

2. executive administrator: Should promote the development of neuronal stimulation breakthrough for the purpose of medical care and social welfare while strengthening scientific research.

3. Evolutionist: If neuron-stimulated beings were put into war and one day evolve to overgrow human beings or even substitute human race, it’s still a natural phenomenon of evolution. We cannot blame the initial technology breakthrough!


4. Taxonomy worker: Neuron-controlled organisms may resemble robots, but it still owns characteristics of life and cannot be regarded merely as machines. Thus, new species may exist for this category and cause problems for naming.

5. Educator: Neuron-stimulated method should be applied to education field for it can help strengthen memory as well as speed up learning. Traditional learning methods will be changed forever! More “Einsteins” would exist.

6. Police: We can manipulate neuronal behaviors of some criminals committing serial murder or sexual assault to prevent them from re-offending. Though new crimes associated with neuron-attack may also exist.

Brilliant thoughts are gained from the role-playing methods and intense discussion which cover all dimensions are obtained. Role-Playing Strategy worked fascinatingly and we suggest it be a model for future human practice work!

Ending survey

Before the human practice night ended, an oral survey had been given on attending colleagues toward “whether mind-control’s net profit on society would be more positive or negative”: 21% voted positive versus 69% vote negative.10% of people voted the net profit is zero. The general public might not be well-prepared for mind-control in its current state.

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