DNA robots?


I bought my first robot last week. Realizing that I’ll never get better at cleaning my house on my own, I decided to hire help.  But not the kind that would get me into trouble with Congress should I ever end up with an appointment to some future administration….I bought a Roomba.

The funny part to me was that it came with a software license agreement.  It is the first appliance I have ever bought that had a software license.  I cracked up.  And then I started thinking about the implications of this.  About all the other products I’ll be buying over the next 40 years or so.  And about programming my future life.

And then I saw this article about programming with DNA.

Nanotechnology may have found its Henry Ford

Tiny DNA robots could be the future of assembly lines.

….But like all DNA, it holds information in the form of genetic code. Seeman “programs” his tiny machine by stringing the right combinations of DNA – much in the way computer engineers use binary code….

I always suspected we were limited with binary :)  It’s actually not the first time I remember thinking about DNA programming.  The first time was an article by a former colleague from grad school, which I read about 9 years ago:

Molecular computation: DNA computing on a chip. I never shook that article out of my brain either.

Combined with my numerical name excursion last week and the recent celebrations of Ada Lovelace Day, I think I’m having an existential crisis on software, licensing, and DNA.  Will there be a day where I get some kind of nanotech treatment that requires me to sign a software license?  Am I looking at the difference engine of tomorrow?

I’m not trying to go all Luddite on ya.  I think I’m gonna like the help with vacuuming….I’m really just amused with the direction we are going.  And it cracked me up that it all came together last week in the course of a few days from a number of different directions.

Jesse Emspak |  Contributor for The Christian Science Monitor/ March 27, 2009 edition Nanotechnology may have found its Henry Ford

Mitsunori Ogihara & Animesh Ray Nature 403, 143-144 (13 January 2000) | doi:10.1038/35003071