Your living flash drive

1 minute read

A news article from Computerworld:

A Japanese university announced scientists there have developed a new technology that uses bacteria DNA as a medium for storing data long-term, even for thousands of years.
Keio University Institute for Advanced Biosciences and Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus announced the development of the new technology, which creates an artificial DNA that carries up to more than 100 bits of data within the genome sequence, according to the JCN Newswire.
The universities said they successfully encoded "e= mc2 1905!" -- Einstein's theory of relativity and the year he enunciated it -- on the common soil bacteria, Bacillius subtilis.

I like the exclamation point!

This isn't at all a new idea. I've long predicted to my classes that people would take advantage of DNA design to implant messages in their children's DNA.

Usually they look at me like I'm a raving loon. Which, I have to admit, isn't so different from any other day.

"Why would anybody want to do that?" Well, why would somebody want to get a tattoo? There are lots of reasons. Vanity. A memorial of someone they loved. Self-actualization.

Unlike the bacterial genome, the human genome makes room for a lot of cruft. Which means that the messages can be long -- maybe megabases -- without causing biological problems. And the permanence of the messages is a lot longer per copy, since the DNA repair mechanisms are vastly better and the human lifespan is so much longer.

Imagine a implanting a copy of all your known genealogical information into your children's DNA.

Or an encoded version of your preferred religious book.

Or maybe a short video message. OOOOHH -- it could be the clue to a crime in some futuristic novel!