Posted by Jason Ocker

At One with My Data

The _Wall Street Journal_ reports the exciting breakthrough that a group of researchers from Harvard were able to store an entire book onto DNA molecules and then retrieve it intact. According to the story, the implications of this advance are that we’ll be able to store larger quantities of data in smaller spaces (the example used is the entire Internet stored on a device the size of a thumb).

Further, the article states,

Using now-standard laboratory techniques, they created short strands of actual DNA that held the coded sequence—almost 55,000 strands in all. Each strand contained a portion of the text and an address that indicated where it occurred in the flow of the book.

In that form—a viscous liquid or solid salt—a billion copies of the book could fit easily into a test tube and, under normal conditions, last for centuries.

This is pretty awesome, no doubt, but I want it to go further than synthesized DNA. I want my actual DNA in my body to be my storage. I don’t want to worry about devices and backing up devices and backing up those devices in case of theft, accident, power surge, decay, or act of Darwin. I want to treat my data like memories, in that I never worry about losing those (even when I do lose them).

Of course, I’d still need to back myself up periodically, especially if, say, I was going for an MRI or in case I contracted some kind of storage-eating disease. It could be something installed in the doorway of your house, that backs you up every time you leave through it. Or you could back it up on other family members or friends. After all, a billion copies of a book in a test tube mean that we’d be walking, talking unlimited storage.

But losing your data is less of a problem in one way. Chances are if something happened to me that my storage is destroyed, I’m probably destroyed, too, and wouldn’t be worried too much about it after that.

Image credit: Roos Flooren, Flickr