Scientific and technological progress allows to genetically redesign natural organisms in ever more profound ways (synbio in the broader sense). In the long term, the aim is to create artificial biological systems (synbio in the narrow sense). Application areas are chemical and energy production, environmental protection as well as the medical sector. Considering the current, early state of research and development, it is impossible to forecast reliably which approaches of synbio will prevail against procedures that make use of the available biological diversity or that are limited to more subtle interventions. Risk assessment and the evaluation of substantially modified organisms will require the development and exploration of new methods and procedures. Opportunities for different societal groups to participate in the responsible development of synbio are ranging from stakeholder involvement in setting research agendas to DIY biology. Dealing with intellectual property within the framework of an increasingly digital economy will also represent a major challenge for the future use of synbio.