A Programming Approach to Creating Biological Machines

January 7, 2008


A Programming Approach to Creating Biological Machines

Can you imagine creating biological machines just as simply as writing code?

I am guessing your answer is no. Until today, I couldn’t either. Then I watched this amazing video of Drew Endy at the Chaos Communication Congress. It is totally cool stuff. Here’s a synopsis of the talk:

Genetic engineering is now a thirty year old technology. For
reference, over a similar period of time, modern computing machines
went from exclusive objects used to design weapons of mass destruction,
to the now ubiquitous panoply of personal computing devices that
support mass communication and construction. Inspired by this and many
other past examples of the overwhelmingly constructive uses of
technology by individuals, we have been working over the past five
years to develop new tools that will help to make biology easy to
engineer. We have also been working to foster a constructive culture of
future biological technologists, who can reliably and responsibly
conceive, develop, and deliver biological technologies that solve local

This talk will introduce current best practice in biological
engineering, including an overview of how to order
synthetic DNA and how to use and contribute standard biological parts
to an open source collection of genetic functions. The talk will also
discuss issues of human practice, including biological safety,
biological security, ownership, sharing, and innovation in
biotechnology, community organization, and perception across many
different publics. My hope is that the conferees of 24C3 will help me
to understand how to best enable an overwhelmingly constructive hacker
culture for programming DNA.

Watch the video, then head on over to the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. Prepare to be amazed by a Radio Shack-esque catalog of biological parts. Think tagging is only for Web 2.0 photos and videos? Think again…here’s a collection of biological tags for biological engineers.

Founder NftyDreams; founder Decentology; co-founder DNN Software; educator; Open Source proponent; Microsoft MVP; tech geek; creative thinker; husband; dad. Personal blog: http://www.kalyani.com. Twitter: @techbubble
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