In a partnership with the University of Washington and startup Twist Bioscience, Microsoft has achieved a means to store any digital content in DNA. It sounds like the work of a crazy science fiction film but Microsoft confirms it is indeed possible.
Not only is it possible but researchers around the world have been attempting to replace your storage devices with DNA for quite a while now. The Verge reports that in the year 2012 Harvard Medical school successfully stored an eBook in DNA. A year later the famous “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. was embedded in DNA thanks to the European Bioinformatics Institute. Research is still early but signs of DNA becoming the next big shift in digital storage is all but confirmed. It only takes a look at DNA’s storage benefits to conclude its impending dominance in the near future.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) July 7, 2016
Why Use DNA as Storage?
Several benefits form DNA storage is that it would significantly change the way entertainment is stored or consumed. Microsoft researchers note that possible DNA benefits are that “it’s compact, durable – capable of lasting for a very long time if kept in good conditions (DNA from woolly mammoths was recovered several thousand years after they went extinct, for instance) – and will always be current, the researchers believe.” The compact size can drastically reduce the size of your media consumption devices. In areas like movie, music, and video game storage it could theoretically remove the need to ever have to upgrade storage size. As a proof of concept Microsoft stored an Ok Go music video in DNA. A detailed look into the study of DNA is provided below via a Microsoft mini documentary.
Another immediate benefit would be that server farms could essentially be reduced drastically. The possibilities are endless on how DNA could reduce the physical footprint companies leave on the Earth. A man could eventually hold the entire worlds information in the palm of their hand without needing to download a single drop of content.
Technology Shifts and so does the World
It may be hard to picture a world in which we use DNA in order to access information around the world but its benefits are not dismissible. By the time we use DNA in our daily lives the world will already be drastically different. The world is changing right in front of our lives. We wrote about how Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are starting to take off. Now we are seeing how Microsoft wants to be a part of that future. Microsoft has a road map of its vision of the future with the video below and the puzzle pieces are starting to align. Whether Microsoft will be leading that future is yet to be seen but one things for sure, it’s an exciting time to be alive and see how the world changes.