DNA Computing 101
Can we use DNA to solve problems that computers can’t?
This newsletter is my attempt to capture and share some of what I'm learning as I dedicate more time to understanding AI, technology, and science. If you know someone nerdy enough to enjoy it, please forward it along.
Adventures with DNA Computing
We take it as a given that our computers run on electricity, keeping track of billions of 1s and 0s.
This technology is incredible, but it has its limitations. Because all the calculations are done one after another, it can be hard to “find a needle in a haystack”, no matter how fast those computations go.
This causes a lot of practical problems (like assigning organ transplants efficiently).
One alternative that’s gotten a lot of attention recently is quantum computing. But another possibility that has less buzz is DNA computing — literally using the biological properties of DNA to perform computations, and output an answer.
As I started to write, I realized it felt way more fun to share something interactive, so instead of writing a newsletter this month, I recorded a video of building a DNA computing simulator. It walks through the original research by Leonard Adleman on how we can use DNA to do computations, and then simulates each step in Python until it’s able to solve a problem. Enjoy!
A Quote I’m Pondering
I’ve been thinking a lot about the hidden costs of trying to predict and control the future, as if I can avoid all my future regrets just by seeing them coming. This perspective struck me as very wise...
I remember one guy, a young man, and he’s like “I’ve got this job offer in investment banking. I’ve read your book, I know what investment banking is doing to the world… but I feel really excited about this job offer. Should I do it?”
And I said: “Trust what makes you feel excited about your life and happy to wake up in the morning.” And he took the job.
Because I knew that, if he develops that habit of trust, when the day comes that that job is no longer exciting, or when the day comes that he has some role to play in that institution that requires him to deeply trust himself, that he will do that because he’s strengthened that muscle.
And the other thing is that, at least for me, I often have to attain what I thought I wanted in order to realize that’s not really what I wanted. And if I withhold that desire from myself, I’m trapped forever chasing it surreptitiously — trying for it and also stopping myself from it and being stuck in that state.
— from Charles Eisenstein’s amazing podcast with Aubrey Marcus
📺Q: Into the Storm: SO FUCKING GOOD! I knew a bit about Q Anon, but didn’t know nearly the depth of it all, or the characters involved.
🎵The Social Network Soundtrack: This is some of my favorite “work music”. It’s by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (from Nine Inch Nails) and won Best Original Score at the Oscars. Drops me right into the zone.
🏄 Fezibo Balance Board: When I used to take a lot of calls, I would pace around incessantly. Now that I’m doing more programming, my body still wants to move while I work. This board has been a huge help.
Until next month,