Life -There’s a Revolution

I trained as a Plant Biologist. Life, living things, have ever been the fascination in my own life. When Anthony Evan’s  Glowing Plants Kickstarter project came along I immediately contributed. So did many other people – the project asked for $65,000 and raised $484,000.

Right from day one the project broke new ground. The ethics and legality of the project were questioned, and advocacy groups wanted it banned. Kickstarter themselves decided to change their own rules.

This is what happens when technology leap-frogs law, culture, our own understanding of the world and where we stand in it as individuals and societies. Synthetic biology is now so broadly based and offers so much potential, whatever you think of it, you have to accept it is here to stay.

The Glowing Plants project continues to break new ground. Their latest update reveals they have been accepted by Y Combinator, the seed-funding organisation. Y Combinator traditionally works with software startups, now it’s started to work with biotech. Glowing Plants was one of the very first projects.  Here in brief, are some of the reasons:Y Combinator is investing in what the Glowing Plants team call ‘the coming synthetic biology revolution’

1. Falling Cost. Startup costs were $100,000,000 per project in 2000. Last year it was $500,000. That’s a 99.5% reduction.

2. Falling Timescales. Time to launch is down from 70 months to 12 months in the same period.

3. Scalability. Make once, copying is virtually free, just like software.

4. Genomics and Proteomics allow biology to be turned into data, and back again. (I might blog about this specifically later, the potential is incredible.)

There’s more on this, so please do read the full article. It’s not that long.

With the renaissance of space exploration, the transformations of society by the internet, incredible advances in materials science, and others, I think we are living in the most exciting era of science and technology since the Enlightenment.

The world has some serious problems, these tools have some real focused work to do. And there is still the rise of synthetic biology to come. I’ve said it before, I’m convinced. There’s a genuine revolution coming, and it is biological. It’s still under the radar, and when it arrives it will utterly transform the world, us, everything. It won’t be long. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.


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