What I cannot create I do not understand


Predicting the future of technology is a mug’s game, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to do it. I still enjoy looking through my 1902 copy of The Romance of Modern Invention, which devotes as much space to the telautograph as to the telephone, and predicts that the horseless carriage will solve the problems of city congestion. The two very different books by Martyn Amos and Robert Frenay share the premise that biology is going to be extremely important in twenty-first-century technology, taking over from the electronics that has dominated recent decades. There are good reasons for expecting change, one of these being that there are physical limits to how small silicon-based electronic circuits can be made. Smaller means better in the world of computing, and computers have been shrinking in size for the past forty years. Moore’s Law states that the number of components that can be packed onto a given silicon chip doubles every eighteen months, but the end is in sight for this steady progress. In contrast, biological systems manage to store and manipulate information more compactly than any silicon-based device can achieve. In particular, DNA holds information in digital form, just like a computer, and uses fewer than fifty atoms to store one bit.

more from the TLS here.