Reprogramming Biology

Posted on: June 19, 2006

Visionary futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose remarkable ideas on technological progress have been an inspiration for Biosingularity blogs, have a wonderful concise article on biological advances in recent issue of Scientific American

As a scientist working on biological systems I fully agree and whole heartedly support Kurzweil's observations that: " Biology is now in the early stages of an historic transition to an information science, while also gaining the tools to reprogram the ancient information systems of life ….. We are now beginning to understand biology as a set of information processes, and we're developing realistic models and simulations of how the processes involved in disease and aging progress. Moreover, we are developing the tools to reprogram them."

In the article Kurzweil predicts that tinkering with our genetic programs will extend human lifespan beyond the current limits. He also reiterates that biological systems are also subject to the "law of accelerating returns", which had tremendous impact on information technologies. Indeed, the cost of sequencing and synthesizing gene base pairs have decreased more than 10,000 fold over the last 15 years, and this exponential progress is currently accelerating as predicted by Kurzweil in his recent book. 

Read rest of the article at Scientific American web site.

3 Responses to "Reprogramming Biology"

mmm, a very intetesting article i must say.

This will [hopefully,] eventually lead to merge genetics, where the best genetic codes from different species are all fed into the superhuman species.

I read Kurzweil’s book about the “singularity” as well as this article. I think he is right about biology. Where he looses me is on this idea of “uploading” of human identity. This may be possible at some future time, but certainly not in the next 50 years or (I think of this as a 22nd or 23rd century thing). There was an interesting conference at IBM Almaden (I have sold analytical instruments to this lab) about AI that has partly convinced me that this will happen. However, I still part company with the tranhumanist nano-geek types over the uploading thing.

This is why I find it difficult to take seriously what Kurzweil has to say without a large grain of salt.

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