London's Guardian interviews (SFI External Professor) Norman Packard, founder and CEO of Venice-based Company ProtoLife, about his project to create synthetic life. (He) is one of the leaders of an ambitious project that has in its sights the lofty goal of life itself. His team is attempting what no one else has done before: to create a new form of living being from non-living chemicals in the laboratory. Some people have accused Packard of playing God; while others see him as the ultimate entrepreneur. But whichever way one looks at this effort, the practical pay-offs of creations like those being chased after by Packard and others could be enormous. Synthetic life could indeed be used to build living technologies: bespoke creatures that produce clean fuels or help heal injured bodies. The potential of synthetic organisms far outstrips what genetic engineering can accomplish today with conventional organisms like bacteria. "The potential returns are very, very large - comparable to just about anything since the advent of technology," says Packard. And there is no doubt that there is big money to be made too.