Speaking of artificial organisms: the Roskilde Science Sunrise Conference 2008 (‘Surviving Ourselves: The Human Condition’) to be held at Roskilde University, Denmark, 13-15 August, will deal with the possible impact of the laboratory creation of primitive life and the possibility of genetic recreation of dead DNA (the Jurassic Park theme).
The organising committee is bringing in a group of specialists with profound knowledge about synthetic life and its social, ethical etc. consequences. Speakers include Mark Bedau (Reed University, currently at ProtoLife), David Deamer (who works on molecular self-assembly at UC Santa Cruz), Drew Endy (MIT pioneer in synthetic biology; see interview with him in Edge here), Gerald L. Epstein (who studies the consequences of bioterrorism at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC), expert on synthetic life, P. Luigi Luisi (University of Rome), neuroscientist Donald W. Pfaff (Rockefeller University), Steen Rasmussen at the Center for Fundamental Living Technology (SDU, Denmark), and Robert M. Friedman (Vice President for Public Policy, J. Craig Venter Institute).
On top of this stellar crew, the organising committee is expecting a number of additional 35 min. presentations on the theme. Send 150-250 abstracts before 1 June (online submission here). More info on http://sunrise.ruc.dk/. Great initiative!