May 14, 2010

Contrasting two reactions to the DNA Factory Research

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Recently there has been some big DNA Nanotechnology research announcments.

Including a programmable DNA assembly line

The researchers envision continuous improvement of the proof of concept DNA assembly and eventual tissue repair and other applications.

It is interesting to compare the reaction of Mike Treder and Chris Phoenix on this who both used to work together at Center For Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN).

Treder has this utterly abstract view of progress and its pace. The three year old child in the back seat with the are we there yet attitude. We are not "there" (worldshaking level of molecular nanotechnology) and that it will take many more years is both a disillusionment of Mike's expectations and a relief that he and IEET can lobby for more regulations while they passively wait.

Chris Phoenix notes the three technical things needed to move this the next step forward and has suggestions on two of them.

Anyone who's claimed nanoscale robotic construction can't work will have to eat their words! The only question now is how fast the robots and products will improve.

Looking forward: If they had a way to (1) recharge the parts-holders in the middle of construction, and if they (2) had a way to connect the parts directly to each other rather than to the platform (without the parts joining to each other prematurely while loading the parts-handlers), and if they (3) could step the growing product past the walker so that the addition zone was always in the right position, then they could, in theory, make products of arbitrary size and sequence.

My recent DNA-binding research proposal describes one hypothetical way to address the first two of these requirements. There are other ways to achieve them as well. The third requirement doesn't seem very difficult compared to what they've already accomplished.


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