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February 6th, 2010
Q: Dr. Canton, this bonus feature talks about the science of surrogates and what is close to it….what is happening that might be an option to robotics? What other path is modern science taking that might serve the same purpose that these surrogates do in the film?
Dr. James Canton: Well the most radical developments in science that could run parallel to the robots in Surrogates are in nanoscience and biotechnology. Synthetic biology is the convergence of engineering and biotech. We are learning how to mix and match living systems to make new living systems. Some day this will make human cloning work. Nanoscience is the design of matter at the atomic scale. When you combine nano and bio, into a new field called nanobiology, you have a design science that could make clones, cybernetic entities and of course Surrogates. It is possible that the model of robots in the future will not be mechanistic but biological and bio-mimetic, they will mimic humans but use organic parts and systems grown from biochemicals, genes, tissue and cells. The synthetic biological creation of Surrogates may emerge even faster then the mechanistic one as depicted in the movie. Keep in mind that we are just scratching the surface of understanding DNA and the human genome. We will create synthetic DNA in the future and synthetic life forms in our image that I forecast will have no mechanical parts-they will be all organic, biological and exist as another evolutionary species. This is down the road 30 to 50 years. So the future Surrogates may be more then human mirrors but another parallel evolutionary species designed in our image.
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