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Monday, December 6, 2010

DNA is a Programming Language

We are on the edge of a fantastic technological break-through.
I am certain it will happen in my lifetime, but I'm not exactly sure when.
It could be VERY near or it could happen when I'm in my 90s but I am certain it WILL happen.

Whenever it happens it will be both AWESOME AND TERRIFYING.

This break-through is cracking DNA in such a way that we see it for what it really is: a programming language.

ALL computer operations are reduced to a binary instruction set. EVERYTHING on a computer is reduced to a string of digits that are all either a 1 or a 0.
DNA is the same, yet VERY different. It is the same in that it is a VERY long program that instructs our cells how to form, build, maintain, etc US. We, in essence, are the manifestation of that program. That is how DNA is the same as binary. Here's how it's different: is exponentially more complicated.

A string of two binary digits has four possible outcomes: 00, 01, 10, and 11.
A string of three binary digits has eight outcomes: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, 111.
The pattern is the base (2) to the power of the number of digits (3).

DNA is, essentially, a base four system. A T C G are the four "numbers" that exist.
A string of two digits, therefore, has 16 combinations instead of 4.
A string of four digits will yield 64 combinations instead of 8.

So what does this MEAN?

It means that DNA is exponentially more complicated a base-language than binary. That is how it can do all of the things it does for biological beings.

How is this AWESOME?
This is awesome because when the code is cracked we will be able to program LIFE from scratch. We'll be able to make robots that are biological in nature (Arthur C. Clarke coined the term "Biots" with respect to this). We'll be able to cure diseases. We'll be able to get ANYTHING we need to be grown directly. Trees that grow in the shapes of chairs; algae that spews out oil as a waste product; flowers that compute, pretty much anything you can think of that we can BUILD we could grow.

How is that TERRIFYING?
For starters: watch the movie GATTACA.
But also look at all of the junk available for your computer. Look at all of the malicious code that exists to make pornographic pop-up windows on laptops, that fill your email box with spam, that hijack your search result links, etc. Look at all of the things that require computers to have security software and imagine having to have that type of software running IN YOU.

I am excited by the ideas that what good this type of development could bring the world, but I really fear the idea of having to purchase Norton Anti-Virus for my brain and body.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. I really hope I am not around for that.