These questions are aroused in this talk by Norman Packard of ProtoLife, who is creating "synthetic biology" - artificial living cells made of non-living material. ProtoLife is exploring the possibilities to create "designer" life, for example, cells that are programmed to create hydrogen. The goal is make tiny living machines that can be used for medical and other applications.
Norman Packard has worked in the areas of chaos, learning algorithms, predictive modeling of complex time series, statistical analysis of evolution, artificial life, and complex adaptive systems. Norman holds a B.A. from Reed College (1976) and Ph.D. in Physics from University of California at Santa Cruz (1983). After post-docs at IHES (Bures-sur-Yvette) and IAS (Princeton), he joined the physics department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1987, where he became an associate professor before leaving to become a co-founder of Prediction Company in 1991.
Norman is currently working in a new scientific and business direction based on development of evolutionary chemistry in programmable microfluidic technology, and is co-founder of a newcompany, ProtoLife, which aims to develop these ideas in the private sector.
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