Fraunhofer Institute for
Systems and Innovation Research ISI

Making Perfect Life

The first decade of the 21st century saw the arrival of a new engineering approach towards life: Bioengineering, on the one hand, refers to the set of engineering tools to intervene in living organisms. It promises to repair, redesign, reconstruct or enhance biological and cognitive processes. On the other hand, it refers to the engineering capacity to create technology with the specific life-like characteristics of living organisms (e.g. intelligent behaviour, reproduction). It promises to design living and thinking artefacts from the bottom up. Thus, biology is becoming technology and technology is becoming biology. These two trends need social and political reflection and debate.

The project focusses on four fields of bioengineering:

  • Engineering of the body

  • Engineering of living artefacts

  • Engineering of the brain

  • Engineering of intelligent artefacts

and analysed each fields with respect to

  • State of the art in science and technology

  • Ongoing research projects in the 7th Framework Programme

  • Ethical, legal and social aspects

  • Political relevance for Members of the European Parliament

The results were documented in a monitoring report and discussed during a conference in autumn 2010. Ongoing work focusses on a selected policy-relevant development within each of the four fields. The following developments are analysed:

  • Privacy, data protection and policy implications in whole genome sequencing

  • Developing market for neurodevices in the European Union

  • Standardising Synthetic Biology, Implementing the Bio-Economy

  • Biocybernetic Adaptation and HCI: Applications and Concerns


Ongoing (1/2010-12/2011)