Space Ramblings

A Computer Future Ending and a Biotech One Beginning?

One Portable Cloning Kit Coming Up. Well not really– but does seem like we’re getting there, doesn’t it?

A Texas graduate student has created a pocket-sized, battery-operated device capable of replicating DNA strands. The portable instrument, with a bill of materials in the neighborhood of $10, can create identical copies of a DNA strand in as little as 20 minutes. Comparable laboratory equipment in use today costs thousands of dollars and typically takes several hours to generate DNA replicas.

It does suggest that we’re beginning to approach a real biotech revolution, the kind of thing you still only see written about in Cyberpunk. The real computer revolution began with hobbyists, if there’s to be a real biotech revolution it requires moving past the big boys in the labs and getting at least some of it into the garages and basements.

I don’t expect to see people tampering with their own genes or cloning their own cat at home– yet, but it could be coming. This is a demonstration that as with the hobbyists who took the personal computing revolution into the home by moving computers from the massive university and corporate systems to something you could tinker around with if you had some of the right parts– that biotech may be opening up the same way.

The point where you can still tamper with computers may in some ways be coming to a close. Operating Systems are increasingly becoming massive all-encompassing giants like Vista and big media firms see their only hope of protecting their intellectual property, in layering everything with so much DRM, that the user can do less and less. Further leaps in technology may also see a computer you can no more open up and play with– than you can open up and tinker with your CPU. Biotech may well be the next wave of the hobbyist and the cracker– the future is already here.

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