Writing Human Code
June 2, 2016
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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.