Scientist to Make Programmable Cells that Act as "Operating System"

Scientists at the University of Nottingham are trying to create a "reprogrammable cell" that can act as a cellular equivalent to a computer's operating system.

The project, if successful, would mark a huge leap forward for synthetic biology as a field. Scientists could easily and quickly program cells to perform all kinds of tasks as well as create wholly new forms of life not found in nature customized for various uses. That’s another way of saying the “operating system” would allow for rapid prototyping of life forms, saving the time and energy currently consumed by returning to the drawing board each time researchers need a cell with a new function.

Oh, what could possibly go wrong?

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What may be bad about it is the fact that they don't know how the preexisting "operating system" or "Machine code" or whatever they want to call it works. What are the dangers of building a second-level system on-top of a system you don't fully understand? Maybe some of what they are trying to accomplish could be achieved with a better understanding of how the preexisting "machine code" or "assembler language" works.
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Let me explain a bit further. Recombinant DNA technology ain't new, but what Prof. Natalio Krasnogor of Nottingham University is trying to do first is to come up with a way to make e. coli easier to "program."

“Currently, each time we need a cell that will perform a certain new function we have to recreate it from scratch which is a long and laborious process. Most people think all we have to do to modify behaviour is to modify a cell’s DNA but it’s not as simple as that — we usually find we get the wrong behaviour and then we are back to square one. If we succeed with this AUdACiOuS project, in five years time, we will be programming bacterial cells in the computer and compiling and storing its program into these new cells so they can readily execute them.

“Like for a computer, we are trying to create a basic operating system for a biological cell.”
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