The article on the race to create life from non-life as reported by NewScientist creates more questions than answers starting with, "What?" The researchers that argue about such things have determined that the criteria for deciding if life is created is the ability of the "creation" to self-replicate and evolve independently.
I do not doubt the capacity of humankind to pursue, and maybe even succeed in such an endeavor, but from where I sit something about this just feels odd and uncomfortable.
One of the stars of this race is a company called ProtoLife. Their statement of purpose reads, 'ProtoLife will develop evolutionary chemistry with the long-range goal of creating artificial cells from nonliving raw material, and programming them with desired chemical functionality.'
If they accomplish their goal will they have created life or bio-based robots? The part of their mission that involves "creating artificial cells (life) from nonliving raw materials (non-life)" is eerie to contemplate.
I'm not sure what all of this means... but the impact would definitely be far from small.