Biological Computer: Stanford Researchers Discover Genetic Transistors That Turn Cells Into Computers
Danielle Santoro stashed this in Things that make you go hmmmm
Watch the movie "What the bleep do we know" then your thoughts on this. I'm torn between the possibilities
Danielle, this is outrageous! Are we humans or are we robots?
In a paper published in the journal "Science" on Friday, the team described their system of genetic transistors, which can be inserted into living cells and turned on and off if certain conditions are met. The researchers hope these transistors could eventually be built into microscopic living computers. Said computers would be able to accomplish tasks like telling if a certain toxin is present inside a cell, seeing how many times a cancerous cell has divided or determining precisely how an administered drug interacts with each individual cell.
Once the transistor determines the conditions are met, it could then be used to make the cell, and many other cells around it, do a specific thing--like telling cancerous cells to destroy themselves.
"We're going to be able to put computers into any living cell you want," lead researcher at the Stanford School of Engineering Drew Endy explained to the San Jose Mercury News. "We're not going to replace the silicon computers. We're not going to replace your phone or your laptop. But we're going to get computing working in places where silicon would never work."
Biocomputers are fascinating.
I keep thinking about how many potential uses there are for this if we can harness it properly.
"For example, suppose we could partner with microbes and plants to record events, natural or otherwise, and convert this information into easily observed signals," Endy told the Independent. "That would greatly expand our ability to monitor the environment."
The big "if" is what leaves me torn. The possibilities are exciting, until you wonder who will have control of this & who will have control of what they are able to use it for. It's sort of a wish for the best situation I guess.