Arnold Kling  

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Drew Endy says,

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.

Other snippets:

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."

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Giovanni writes:

"I don't want to talk about it, I want to do it"

This guy should heed his own words.

Bio-engineering is a very real field but this is just dreamy talk.

Troy Camplin writes:

If he doesn't like "emergent properties" then he really should stay far, far away from organisms, because that's what he's going to get. He's assuming a linear dynamics, that gene A gives rise to protein A and that's all there is to it. The problem is, we have just about exhausted the miniscule number of genes that actually work that way. The vast, vast majority work in highly complex, nonlinear ways. If he doesn't want to deal with that fact, he should stick with Newtonian physics.

Steve Sailer writes:

Just like introducing rabbits to Australia made things interesting.

FC writes:

Trawling for mainstream credibility by dissing Drexler is so five years ago.

And if he thinks scientists are out of the biotech game, he must walk around campus blindfolded. MIT offers PhDs in both bioengineering and computational & systems biology. (Drexler did his PhD at the Media Lab.)

Horatio writes:

It's funny you posted this today. Drexler gave a talk on campus this week. He was invited by engineering.

Engineers have a lot to contribute in the biotech arena, but the best among them are learning how to deal with non-linear and complex system. The old-school engineers will fail in biotech research. One of my profs. is a young hot shot in biotech. He's an engineer but he's careful to emphasize the need to understand these complex properties.

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