Christopher Voigt and his research partners at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Texas at Austin hacked the genes of E. coli bacteria, making each altered cell photosensitive. (Voigt is a member of the current TR35, our annual list of 35 exceptional innovators under the age of 35. He and the others were featured in the September/October 2006 issue.) Their first application of the technology, shown in this slide show, was a lawn of bacteria that acts like a photographic plate: when exposed to red light, the lawn reproduces an image inscribed into a stencil held between it and the light source. But this isn’t the goal of Voigt’s research–it’s just an example of the powerful possibilities raised by the young field of synthetic biology. The ability to precisely engineer and control microörganisms could lead to new bacterial factories that produce complex drugs or materials.
View the hack of the genes of E. coli bacteria.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
The Biggest Questions: What is death?
New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
How to fix the internet
If we want online discourse to improve, we need to move beyond the big platforms.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.