There is interesting story in Wired about an alternative approach to creating artificial life, Biologists on the Verge of Creating New Form of Life. While some are trying to create artificial bacteria, the Szostak lab's protocellular work is trying to create a form of life that does not currently exist, but may be similar to the earliest forms of life on Earth. Thus, they not only have to face the controversy of creating artificial life, but also the origin of life.