Great book that runs the gamut of synthetic biology
The term "natural" used to be substantially easier to apply to basic items like fruit and animals. It is both exhilarating and frightening to consider "improving" genetic material, but humans have a knack for putting their marks on everything imaginable.
"The Genesis Machine" by Amy Webb and Andrew Hessel takes on the Herculean effort (at breakneck speed) of categorizing, assessing and theorizing how synthetic biology is changing – and will change – the world. The book goes into just enough detail (and contains plenty of footnotes, if you want to dive further) about an array of topics, from CRISPR to artificial intelligence to vaccine creation (and hindrance).
The book's first three parts – past (thorough and grounded), present (eye-opening and dizzying) and future (a lot of good, albeit not necessarily all practical, what ifs) – outline the situation at hand. The final section details a list of recommendations and guidelines for how the world should proceed in this area.
It all sounds good on paper, but if we're being pragmatic about it, the rich and powerful will ultimately push forth agendas that will create an even more dramatic divide between them and their minions. This book is a great way to help organize the players and keep tabs on the highlights. And there's plenty of money to be made in this space, so let's hope that at least some of the breakthroughs keep the planet and humanity afloat.