Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Biological Computing

 What is Biological Computing And How It Will Change Our World

"When you look at the origin of the word computer—“one who calculates”—you learn electronics aren’t necessarily a required component even though most of us would imagine the modern-day desktop or laptop when we hear the term. A computer is something that can handle data, and in this perspective, our brains are one of the most powerful computers that exist. There has been significant progress toward the creation of biological computers. Once they get perfected, it will change our world. 

What are biological computers?

Biological computers are made from living cells. Instead of electrical wiring and signaling, biological computers use chemical inputs and other biologically derived molecules such as proteins and DNA. Just like a desktop computer, these organic computers can respond to data and process it, albeit in a rudimentary manner similar to the capabilities of computers circa 1920. While biological computers have a long way to go before they are as sophisticated as today’s personal computers, the fact that researchers have been able to get biological computers to complete a logic gate is a notable achievement.

Potential of biological computers

Once you’ve programmed a single biological cell, it’s extremely cost-effective to grow billions more with only the cost of the nutrient solutions and a lab tech’s time. It’s also anticipated that biocomputers might actually be more reliable than their electronic counterparts. To illustrate, think about how our bodies still survive even though millions of our cells die off, but a computer built from wires can stop functioning if one wire is severed. In addition, every cell has a mini-factory at its disposal, so once it’s been programmed, it can synthesize any biological chemical. 

Instead of what’s done today when bioengineers map genes and try to uncover their secrets, they can just program cells to do the job they need them to do — for example, program cells to fight cancer or deliver insulin to a diabetic’s bloodstream.

Challenges of biocomputing

Although biocomputing has similarities with biology and computer science, it doesn’t fit seamlessly with either one. In biology, the goal is to reverse engineer things that have already been built. Biocomputing aims to forward engineer biology.

Experts in computer science are accustomed to machines executing programmed commands; when dealing with biological environments in what is known as a “wet lab,” organisms might react unpredictably. The culprit could be the cell’s programming, or it could easily be something external such as the environmental conditions, nutrition, or timing."

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