OH CRAP. Call the Terminator Police. We are one step closer to a living computer, after a group of researchers created a device based on DNA.
The idea dates back to the nineties and Microsoft has been researching DNA for storage, but the team from the University of Manchester have now demonstrated that it's possible with the invention of their "nondeterministic universal Turing Machine" (NUTM).
But why? Simple really, if you have a computer built from DNA, then it can reproduce its cells. If it can reproduce its cells then it's infinitely expandable. If it's infinitely expandable, then if it gets stuck on a problem it simply calls for reinforcements.
If there's a problem that requires a billion calculations, rather than have one cell doing them all, you subdivide into a billion cells working on a problem each.
"Imagine a computer is searching a maze and comes to a choice point, one path leading left, the other right," explained Professor Ross King, from Manchester's School of Computer Science. "Electronic computers need to choose which path to follow first.
"But our new computer doesn't need to choose, for it can replicate itself and follow both paths at the same time, thus finding the answer faster."
Until eventually the whole thing becomes sentient, and kills puny humans, right? Because that's how all stories like this end. Probably.
OK, step back a bit. What DNA can actually do is replicate. That doesn't mean it can do anything it wasn't designed for. To do that, the ‘brain' would have to tell it to evolve. What it means is that it can replicate its processing power until it has enough ‘monkeys at typewriters' to solve the problem at hand.
"As DNA molecules are very small a desktop computer could potentially utilise more processors than all the electronic computers in the world combined - and therefore outperform the world's current fastest supercomputer, while consuming a tiny fraction of its energy." added King
DNA computers could be even faster than Quantum computers, theoretically, with the added bonus that DNA is a lot more stable because it doesn't involve annoying little caveats like being kept at absolute zero.
It would also be a lot cheaper, because you just have to feed it peanut butter (again, we're making that bit up, but it does raise the question, when does it become a lifeform?). µ
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