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Programming DNA: A 2-bit Language for Engineering Biology
Biological engineering does not have to be confined to high-end industry laboratories. A more open culture of biological technology should be fostered. This talk is an effort in that direction: it aims to equip you with basic practical knowledge of biological engineering.
Genetic engineering is now a thirty-year-old technology. For reference, it was over a similar period of time that modern computing machines went from exclusive objects used to design weapons of mass destruction to the now ubiquitous panoply of personal computing devices that support mass communication and construction. Inspired by this and many other examples of overwhelmingly constructive uses of technology by individuals, we have been working over the past five years to develop new tools that will help to make biology easy to engineer. We have also been working to foster a constructive culture of future biological technologists who can reliably and responsibly conceive, develop, and deliver biological technologies that solve local problems.
This talk will introduce current best practice in biological engineering, including an overview of how to order synthetic DNA and how to use and contribute standard biological parts to an open source collection of genetic functions. The talk will also discuss issues of human practice, including biological safety; biological security; ownership, sharing, and innovation in biotechnology; community organization; and perception across many different publics. My hope is that the conference attendees will help me to understand how best to enable an overwhelmingly constructive hacker culture for programming DNA.
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