Bill Gates recently told Wired that if he were a teenager today, he would be hacking biology. “If you want to change the world in some big way,” he says, “that’s where you should start, biological molecules.” Biopunk by Marcus Wohlsen clings closely to this comparison of the new wave of DIY chemists with the pioneers of personal computing. It has a very similar in tone to Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, celebrating unique individuals attempting to push the envelope of technology outside the established channels. According to Wohlsen, the hacker ethic is alive and well in the bio community. I’m inclined to believe him, but I wonder, will this hacker movement lead to the same revolution and riches as the personal computer? Will personal bio lead to life extension, global pandemics, or will it end with strawberry DNA extractions? The answer probably won’t be clear any time soon but that’s part of the appeal.
Thursday, June 11, 2015