Biology & Society


Science and technology are changing our lives, social interactions, our relationship with nature, even our dreams and hopes for the future. Because the language of science can be impenetrable, its methods foreign to our daily experiences, and its consequences difficult to foresee, many of us embrace a futuristic view exaggerating either hope or fear when dealing with emerging technologies. Biology is one of the sciences that have dramatically changed our relationship to nature, to our bodies, animals and plants, the ecosystem, even our spirituality when we ask the question of where we come from. This Internet Forum presents background information on emerging technologies commenting on news coverage of science and technology and hopes to contribute to ongoing discussions about the purpose and meaning of scientific and technological progress.

Infectious diseases have forced many of us to reevaluate man's relationship with nature, our own ability and limitations in escaping our biological destiny as part of the Earth's web of life. In simpler terms, infectious diseases will always be part of human life. Here you find information about why this is so and what can and cannot done about it.
Since the discovery of the structure of DNA and the genetic code, the manipulation of genes has become routine in the laboratories leading to genetically modified food and genetherapy based medicine. How does genetics affect medicine and agriculture?
Stem Cell Research Stem cell research has become a politically charged clinic research because the are derived from human embryos and the practice has been compared to abortion by some. But what are stem cells? What can stem cell research provide that makes use of human embryos justifiable? How are the moral and political issues resolved around the world?  
The first cloned mammal has been born in 1997 and dozens of others followed suit. The factual existence of cloning has forced us to reconsider the impact and limits of this technology including of what it would mean to humans. The ultimate potential of cloning would be achieved when combined with genetics and information gained from whole genome projects.
The search for artificial life and intelligence is probably as old as mankind. The 20th Century has made this dream seem closer than ever with the development of computers. Machines that are lifelike, think, or evolve - can they do what their inventors claim? Here you can read about robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology and 'smart' micromachines.
Technological applications have always brought both applause and condemnation. The ease of genetic manipulation across species, for genetic screening or gene therapy, or the release of genetically modified organism into the environment, have spurred heated discussions about the ethics of developing these techniques and pushing scientific advances without really foreseeing possible applications let alone their impact on society. Bioethics is a growing academic field of dealing with societal issues in biology and medicine. How can risks be properly assessed and discussed in a free society? Answers are complex and difficult to come-by.

Copyright © 2001-2012 Lukas K. Buehler