(This is incomplete, but approximately what I was thinking at the time. -KG)
The future of open source biological systems
Computers forever revolutionized the way that people communicate. The open source movement has opened an untold number of doors to new and groundbreaking inventions.
As many of you know, DNA is where computers were 20-30 years ago, and has benefited greatly from the open source movement. Despite the similarities that DNA has to computer code, there are extremely important differences.
1: DNA is costly to obtain and modify
Downloading content from a website costs next to nothing, everything is digitized and so only data needs to be sent. However, DNA is physical. The simple nature of it being physical is a barrier to efficient distribution. Most DNA is distributed through personal communications between authors. For example, lets replace DNA/strain of bacteria with a small program. To get this program, you first read up on it or learn about it from a friend. Then you email the person you want the program from. The person emails you back a
2: DNA can interact with the physical environment
3: DNA takes expertise and hands on experience to work with well
One of my goals is to create a truely open system for modification and distribution of DNA. Unlike existing systems, I want it to be cheap (~2-5$ a plasmid) and I want it to be open to everyone (No MTA and will ship to residential addresses). Even with this, I am worried of abuse of my system for hacks that can be potentially harmful to people or the environment.