Will aliens from the movie Alien be engineered by 2200?
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Is it possible to engineer the perfect organism?

Should be visually and functionally indinstinguishable from the 1979 movie creature.

Resolves when this is accomplished (yay) or we can rule out the possibility. At present, we cannot tell what is and is not possible with the naturally occuring nucleic/amino acids, let alone what other types of biochemistry are possible.

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Is there a specific feature that seems questionably possible? I haven't seen the movie in quite some time but at a glance this seems very likely feasible unless we hit quite hard limits on our technology soon. So it is more of a question of will we bother (120 years from now maybe nobody really cares that much about Alien; or it is illegal to bioengineer dangerous predators; etc) it seems

predicts YES

@Aleph So many unknowns. Are we convinced that it is possible even in principle to write a genetic code for an arbitrary phenotype? Or to synthetically design an organism of life-like complexity and efficiency?

@Aleph maybe we figure it out, but we make a psychic elephant instead, and it costs like half manhattan project, and by the time we make it cheaper, people don't remember aliens.

predicts YES

>> but we make a psychic elephant instead

@33cb Basically the whole premise of the Poseidon's Children trilogy by Alastair Reynolds

@lukres i meant on purpose, not like it goes out of control

predicts YES

@33cb What I really like about the alien is that it can adapt to any host, including your psychic elephants

@lukres Not arbitrarily, but I expect humans could design notably more efficient versions of existing animals once we reach that technological level.

Designing an animal can potentially be easier than understanding an existing animal. Existing bodies are like mountains of spaghetti code that aren't nicely organized for human understanding. However if we were designing a body, we would choose proteins that are easier to predict, easier to produce (however we're having them being born), etc. We don't actually have to design an animal in the disorganized local optimization of evolution.

Of course it is still very complicated. We don't have tools for this kind of thing at the moment, but it is entirely possible to imagine an odd mix of programming and Verilog where programmer-biologists carefully design proteins for various tasks and can automatically simulate them to test that they work as expected.

Then of course there's how aggressively we can apply AI to it. Alphafold is decent at predicting protein folding, and we'll only get better with decades of extra work. I don't have any reason to believe we can't automate various parts of protein construction to make it an easier task.

Cells are essentially tiny biological machines. There's going to be stuff that is simply hard to do with cells (ex: requires a bunch of organization work which is hard if we follow close to the standard partially decentralized body plan) or just run into engineering challenges. However designing a creature with black scales that has venom, for some reason uses animals/people as hosts, and has sharp claws... does not seem outside anything we see around us.

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