Monster Seminar JAM - Biology is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life
Dr. Rob Carlson, Biodesic LLC
Biotechnology is developing at a remarkable rate. Reading and writing DNA are both experiencing exponential improvements in cost and productivity due to advances in methods and automation. As of 2008, US revenues from the products of genetically modified systems were equivalent to approximately 2% of GDP, and were growing at about 15% annually. The future holds new drugs, treatments, fuels, materials, and crops, all produced using biological technologies.
Despite these rapid changes, the engineering of biology remains very difficult and typically does not result in systems with behaviors that are as predictable as airplanes, computers, or automobiles. A great deal of investment and effort is presently engaged in attempting to place biological engineering on the same footing as these other fields that underly our economy and society. The promise of this project is great, as are the perils, and there is no guarantee of success.
Yet because goals include rapid vaccine development to counter emerging infectious disease, carbon neutral biofuels, or replacing petrochemicals with biochemicals, investment will continue. Considerable innovation will be required to meet these goals, and it is not clear that existing investment strategies and existing intellectual property regimes are adequate for the task at hand. The proliferation of skills, used instruments, and online protocols has enabled a new wave of garage biology experimenters and entrepreneurs, many of whom bring to biology their experience in the open source software and open source hardware communities. The next decade is likely to see an exploration of new models for innovation, funding, and distribution of new biological technologies.
Date and Time:
October 28, 2010,
11:00 am - 12:00 pm