Programming DNA is more cool, it's more appealing, it's more powerful than silicon. You have an actual living, reproducing machine; it's nanotechnology that works. It's not some Drexlarian (Eric Drexler) fantasy. And we get to program it. And it's actually a pretty cheap technology. You don't need a FAB Lab like you need for silicon wafers. You grow some stuff up in sugar water with a little bit of nutrients.
when I go to the hardware store and get a nut and a bolt, so long as they don't screw up the English / metric thing, I can take those two objects, and I can put them together. I don't have to do an experiment. I don't need to go talk to some Harvard professor to figure this out. I don't need to do a controlled experiment to see if my first experiment worked. I just get the two objects and put them together.
...Engineers hate complexity. I hate emergent properties. I like simplicity. I don't want the plane I take tomorrow to have some emergent property while it's flying.
...the previous generation of people working in biotechnology are scientists, and the ones coming up now are engineers.
The concept that he is advocating is designing simple biological organisms from scratch, and then putting them together to make interesting "things."