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George Church: Genetic Engineering Pioneer

 Anyone who wants a glimpse into the future of abundance that will soon be upon us as a result of advanced in genetic science, should read Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George Church.

Also anytime you read a recent article about some mind-blowing application of genetic science, you will usually find Church or one of his colleagues in the thick of it.  For example, this week, Extreme Tech broke the news that Church had found a way to store data with DNA.  He and his colleagues were able to fit 700 terabytes into about 1 gram of DNA.

The article linked above that discusses this finding makes the following prediction:

Looking forward, they foresee a world where biological storage would allow us to record anything and everything without reservation. Today, we wouldn’t dream of blanketing every square meter of Earth with cameras, and recording every moment for all eternity/human posterity — we simply don’t have the storage capacity. There is a reason that backed up data is usually only kept for a few weeks or months — it just isn’t feasible to have warehouses full of hard drives, which could fail at any time. If the entirety of human knowledge — every book, uttered word, and funny cat video — can be stored in a few hundred kilos of DNA, though… well, it might just be possible to record everything (hello, police state!)

The threat of the police state notwithstanding, this merging of biology with information technologies is probably just the tip of the iceberg.  When George Church isn’t turning DNA into an alternative to the hard drive, he is engineering e coli bacteria to produce diesel fuel.  They have already successfully engineered e coli to do this on a lab scale, and they are now moving to produce diesel fuel on an industrial scale in the near future.  To learn more, you can check out LS9, which stands for “Life Sciences sustain 9 billion.”  If this technology pans out, we could be looking at a future where hydrocarbon fuel becomes a truly renewable resource.

About Rajiv

I am a venture capitalist. I am currently focused on bio-tech, genetic engineering, and merging these fields with big data. I am not always political, but when I am, I am a libertarian.

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