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Applications and ethics of computer-designed organisms

Computer-designed organisms — biobots, such as xenobots — are at the intersection of synthetic developmental biology and machine learning. This technology, which enables the evolution of real, living forms to take place in a virtual world, is part of an emerging new research field with applications in biomedicine and engineering, and raises profound philosophical questions.

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M.L. gratefully acknowledges support (via grant TWCF0315) from the Templeton World Charity Foundation and from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Cooperative Agreement Number HR0011-18-2-0022. J.E.L. is supported by a grant from the Greenwall Foundation.

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Correspondence to M. Levin.

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Levin, M., Bongard, J. & Lunshof, J.E. Applications and ethics of computer-designed organisms. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 21, 655–656 (2020).

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