I've been completely fascinated with the whole biological computer concept. Instead of silicon chips, these living computers, also known as DNA computers or biocomputers, uses biochemistry and proteins such as DNA to process information it receives.
And recently, two different research teams from Stanford and MIT have designed genetic receptors for living cells. These groovy devices work as transistors inserted into living cells. These tell the cells to "light up" when certain defined criteria are met.
So, is it goodbye silicon-based pc? Do we rush out to greet our new organic laptops? LOL, I hope our organic tablets don't get motion sickness.
Yuck. Anywho, well, maybe someday. I'm not too concerned with the very Bradbury style future. This is one of those advancements where the near future opportunities are just as cool as the futuristic ones.
A couple ideas mentioned in the source articles sounded intriguing. A genetic transistor injected into a cancer patient that notifies any cancerous cells to destroy themselves. Water sources that monitor their own health and notify technicians if there is a problem. Even the amazing chance that construction engineers will grow buildings and bridges instead of building them.
My fictional, over imaginative mind immediately screams, "Biological weapon!" This could be provided with sniper-like pinpoint accuracy instead of mass destruction. Transistors will tell the healthy cells of a political or government enemy to destroy themselves. Ooh, or maybe something more sudden. Brain aneurysm, clot-causing heart attack. Imagine, assassinations remotely done in complete silence.
Even if we were mature enough to stick with only humanitarian endeavors, which I highly doubt, there is cause for concern. I mean, we are instilling intelligence in basic living things. How will these simple functioning cells react to consistent, long-term transmittal of "intellectual instruction". For all we know, human intelligence evolved from some kind of spark of intellectual guidance.
As a fellow member of a species unique to all other species on Earth, I'm not sure I suddenly want to compete with some other species with special consciousness.
By giving basic biological elements the path to "conscious problem solving" are we potentially paving the future evolution of those biological elements? Right now it's reactive... but at what point could it become proactive and evolve independent thought? I can't help but think we might be birthing something that'll be bigger than a computing machine.
What did David say in Prometheus? "Big things have small beginnings."
Maybe someone needs to make sure the researchers are aware of the Three Laws and suggest for them to design something similar for their biological device as Asimov did in the positronic device as they go along their merry scientific way.