Redesigning the Tree of Life

Posted on July 10, 2010


I’ve been thinking about some new iterations of The Synthetic Kingdom, from all the feedback I’ve had on the project since last year.
I presented this work at the ‘Beyond the Tree of Life Meeting’, in London, 10 July 2009.

The Synthetic Kingdom, 2009

How will we classify what is natural or unnatural when life is built from scratch?

Synthetic Biology is turning to the living kingdoms for its materials library. No more petrochemicals: instead, pick a feature from an existing organism, locate its DNA code and insert it into a biological chassis. From DIY hacked bacteria to entirely artificial, corporate life-forms, engineered life will compute, produce energy, clean up pollution, make self-healing materials, kill pathogens and even do the housework.

The Tree of Life is always changing, ever since we first created it. Now, we are adding to the living kingdoms for the first time. But these synthetic organisms are no different to other life forms, except that we invented them.

We will have to insert an extra branch into the Tree of Life. The Synthetic Kingdom is part of our new nature.

Evolution of the Tree of Life

3. The Mini (Realistic) Synthetic Kingdom

4. Synthetic Kingdom as Weeds on Existing Branches
5. Fuzzy Tree Synthetic Kingdom

6. Synthetic Kingdom as Networked Spaghetti

7. Synthetic Kingdom as 3D Tabletop Matrix

Posted in: synbio, taxonomy