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SNS Subscriber Edition Volume 18, Issue 24 Week of June 22, 2015






The Perfect Union:

Biology and Computing




In This Issue



The Perfect Union:

Biology and Computing


The Perfect Venn Intersection

What Is Biology?

What Is Evolution?

Computers Applied to Biology

Making Biology with Computers

Using Biology to Make Computers



Quotes of the Week


Takeout Window

3D Printing Human Skin

You Have It Backwards, Ginny: Chinese Firms Need You

MSFT Brings 1st Chinese University into the US; Target: University of Washington

Neural Lace: No Longer Just Science Fiction



Upgrades and Numbers


The Pope Effect

The OPM Hack

China Whistles,

US Tech Firms Fetch




Inside SNS


Upcoming SNS Events


Where's Mark?






Please join us at FiRe 2015, with an

over-arching theme of The Power of Patterns.




                  October 6-9, Stein Eriksen Lodge

                                 Park City, Utah






Takeaway Points:


  • Biology is the result of evolution.


  • Evolution is the process of many unbiased, whole-system trial-and-error runs, optimized for efficiency through feedback loops.


  • There is a distinct gap between the one-time pattern recognition contribution of initial solution ideas in the human process vs. millions of smaller, usually incremental, improvements tested by evolution.


  • Evolution does what human engineers do, but with less bias, better whole-system testing, and more testing.


  • There is every reason to think that Lee Hood's work will lead to a first-ever understanding of human health on a dynamic, biochemical basis.


  • This is, at its core, the revolution in health management that the world has been seeking, with patients more aware of their condition than are their doctors.


  • Success in this work will lead, according to Hood, to a "revolution in medicine."


  • As the power of understanding human biology depends more on genomics, and the compute-intensive analysis of these genomes, it's not surprising that cloud services operators will become critically important in this foundational field of biological (and medical) study.


  • Since the human mind works primarily through the visual cortex, it makes sense that our engineers will benefit from seeing, rather than just reading about, biological structures and processes


  • Those involved in this practice like to say that modern GMO techniques are just an extension of past breeders' work, but this is an outright falsehood.


  • 3D printing of tissue will eventually revolutionize organ replacement markets and science, increasing survivability for those needing new organs, and reducing their cost.


  • The goal of China's forced IP transfer policy is not domestic security, but the creation of a domestic tech industry that in the long run will no longer need to buy American products.



The Perfect Union: Biology and Computing


I was talking with my friend and colleague Larry Smarr the other day, and we found ourselves discussing the ways in which biology is today informing computer design. We started listing all the ways in which biology does things better than the old von Neumann computer structures of today, and the more we talked, the more absurdly huge these differences loomed. After a while, we just couldn't stop laughing ---


There is no comparison; biology is infinitely better at what computers do than today's computers.


In this week's discussion, we're going to look at how biology will inform computer design - and how compute systems will change biology.



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