bioengineering tags

Bull Session

Smartware: Transformative Technologies

September 21, 2017          

Episode Summary

On the podcast this week, we continue our multi-episode discussion about the evolution of software and the future of computing, looking at how a handful of advances will come together to transform software and hardware into something new, which we’re calling “Smartware”. Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and are continually learning on their own. Join us as we discuss the major advances in science and technology that are driving Smartware — from artificial intelligence (AI), neuroscience, and genomics to the Internet of Things (IoT) and additive fabrication / 3D printing.

Resources:
Smartware: A Tribute to Dead Machines

Bull Session

Bioprinting

March 16, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss bioprinting, its various applications, from 3D printing bones to organs, and the implications for design and science. There are, of course, many uses for 3D printing in healthcare — for instance, the creation of prosthetic limbs. Bioprinting, in contrast, involves the construction of living tissue via the output of multiple layers of living cells. While bioprinting is still very much at its nascent stages, the various techniques for creating 3D organic objects have had some early triumphs, including the construction of functional blood vessels. While reproducing cells in the lab has been done for many years — skin tissue, blood vessels, etc — bioprinting, which leverages natural processes, offers the opportunity to create more complex tissue, and perhaps even complete organs. Join us as we discuss the future of bioprinting.

Resources

Synthetic Future: Revolutionary Center Will 3D-Print Human Tissues and Organs

Bull Session

Writing Human Code

June 2, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the plan to create a complete artificial human genome. A few weeks ago, scientists, entrepreneurs, and government officials met in a closed door meeting at Harvard University at an event intended to create interest and momentum around the follow-up to the Human Genome Project — a public / private collaboration to synthesize a human genome.

Over the past decade, the technology for encoding genes has improved at a fantastic rate. Since the early 2000s, the cost has dropped from four dollars to just three cents per base pair. However, while big pharma and big agriculture currently synthesize gene sequences for products including biologic drugs and GMO plants, these strands of genetic material are usually only a few thousand letters in length. Contrast that with the 6 billion letters needed for the human genome, and we can begin to see the ambition of this new proposed endeavor. In this episode, we explore some of the arguments in favor of and against writing human code.

Resources:
Ethical Questions Loom Over Efforts to Make a Human Genome from Scratch

Bull Session

DNA as Data Storage

May 5, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life podcast we discuss how bio-inspired technology is beginning to intersect with information technology in big ways. With the exponential increase of digital data, we face an ongoing problem of information storage. Today most digital information is stored on media that will expire relatively quickly, lasting a few decades at most. Because of this, we require new methods for long-term data storage, and biotech might just have the answer. DNA could be the storage media of the future: It can last thousands, even potentially tens of thousands of years. And the tech industry has taken notice. For instance, last month Microsoft agreed to purchase millions of strands of synthetic DNA, from San Francisco based Twist Bioscience to encode digital data. Of course we may be years away from a commercial DNA storage product, but the potential for a revolutionary, even disaster proof media is there.

Resources

Twist Biosciences
DNA Storage at Microsoft Resarch
Microsoft experiments with DNA storage: 1,000,000,000 TB in a gram