“Life itself has become a programmable machine.” That’s the bold thesis with which host and geneticist Adam Rutherford opens the BBC documentary Playing God, which is viewable in full via the embed below. While that claim might be hyperbole, Playing God examines the bizarre and amazing ways that we are tinkering with genetics right now, what the future may hold, and the ethics of, well, of playing God. If you’ve got an hour to kill, Playing God is a compelling look at a branch of science whose pitfalls and potential wonders have fascinated us at least since Mary Shelley introduced the world to a doctor named Frankenstein.
Here’s the official description of Playing God:
Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists, the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider’s web. It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please. This technology is already being used to make bio-diesel to power cars. Other researchers are looking at how we might, one day, control human emotions by sending ‘biological machines’ into our brains.