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Genetics


Analysis and insight on the advancements in genetics. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends in genetics research.

How Scientists Are Hacking Biology to Build at the Molecular Scale

The long vision of nanotechnology suggests tiny robot “assemblers” will swarm unseen in the air, water, and even our bodies, building anything from the atoms up. It's a wild thought and still (mostly) a dream. But looked...

Ray Kurzweil Predicts Three Technologies Will Define Our Future

This is the last in a four-part series looking at the big ideas in Ray Kurzweil's book The Singularity Is Near. ​Be sure to read the other articles: Will the End of Moore’s Law Halt...

Why We Should Teach Kids to Code Biology, Not Just Software

Almost ten years ago, Freeman Dyson ventured a wild forecast:  “I predict that the domestication of biotechnology will dominate our lives during the next fifty years at least as much as the domestication of...

CRISPR Dispute Raises Bigger Patent Issues That We’re Not Talking About

The worlds of science, technology and patent law eagerly await the U.S. government’s decision on who deserves patents on what many have referred to as the biotechnology invention of the century: the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing...

If We Don’t Own Our Genes, What Protects Study Subjects in Genetic Research?

On February 25, the White House hosted a forum on the National Institute of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative. This is an ambitious research study that aims to develop targeted drugs and treatments that would...

Incredible ‘Living’ Alzheimer’s Implant Clears Mouse Brains of Toxic Junk

Alzheimer’s may be the cruelest of brain diseases. Decades before the first signs of dementia strike, toxic protein clumps called amyloid plaques have been slowly, insidiously building up in the brain. The plaques clog the...

How to Speak to the Dead: Gather Their DNA For Science

DNA sequencing of the deceased could lead to a number of advances in health care. A group of scientists in Denmark have launched a proposal to create the world’s first national necrogenomic database. The...

US Bets $100 Million on Machines That Think More Like Humans

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the dusty surface of the moon on July 20, 1969, it was a victory for NASA and a victory for...

As Technology Barrels Ahead—Will Ethics Get Left in the Dust?

The battle between the FBI and Apple over the unlocking of a terrorist’s iPhone will likely require Congress to create new legislation. That’s because there really aren’t any existing laws which encompass technologies such...

Eye on the Cure: Can Algae Genes Restore Vision in First Optogenetics Human Trial?

In the next month, scientists from RetroSense Therapeutics will inject a virus deep into the retina of legally blind human volunteers. The virus will carry what is perhaps the most monumental payload in modern neuroscience...

Have We Finally Achieved Information Immortality?

The way information is stored and shared may now be forever changed thanks to a recent major five-dimensional (5D) digital data recording and retrieval announcement. Scientists from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre...

UK Will Use CRISPR on Human Embryos — a Step Closer to Human Genome Editing

"It is human nature and inevitable in my view that we will edit our genomes for enhancements.” —J. Craig Venter This week, Kathy Niakan, a biologist working at the Francis Crick Institute in London received the...

CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing Is a Huge Deal, But It’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg

CRISPR/Cas9 has been touted as an almost magical technology in the news—and rightly so. The technique allows scientists to alter the DNA of living cells and, it’s hoped, achieve a longstanding goal of science...

10 Most Exciting SciTech Advances of 2015

As we near the end of 2015, here are my top 10 picks for 2015 technology breakthroughs. These genius inventions are sending us careening into a world of abundance, bold visionaries and accelerating exponential change. My...

A Big Year for Biotech: Bugs as Drugs, Precision Gene Editing, and Fake Food

Speculations around whether biotech stocks are in a bubble remain undecided for the second year in a row. But one thing stands as indisputable—the field made massive progress during 2015, and faster than anticipated. For...

Six Technologies That Hit Their Tipping Points in 2015

To the average person, it may seem that the biggest technology advances of 2015 were the larger smartphone screens and small app updates. But a lot more happened than that. A broad range of...

Longer Life in a Pill May Already Be Available at Your Local Drug Store

To most of the scientific community, “anti-aging” is a dirty word. A medical field historically associated with charlatans and quacks, scientists have strictly restricted the quest for a “longevity pill” to basic research. The paradigm...

Why We Need Government to Evolve as Fast as Technology

From deep learning to gene editing, the world of technology is moving fast. But at Singularity University, we believe amazing tech is only half the equation. Equally important is how we use technology. The...

Gene Drives Could Wipe Out Insect-Borne Disease — But What’s the Price?

In 2014, a few days after Christmas, Dr. Valentino Gantz walked into his lab at the University of California, San Diego to check on some newly hatched fruit flies. With a single look, he knew...

Exponential Medicine: The Most Detailed Snapshot of Human Health in History

Our bodies are extremely complex, interrelated, and ever-evolving patterns of information—from DNA to physiology to vital signs. But until modern times, most of that information was hidden from view. We didn’t know there was...

Exponential Medicine: The Future of the Quantified Brain

For decades it was believed the brain was a black box—the elusive central node of our operating system which we simply didn’t understand. And it’s true, scientific knowledge of the brain has been hard...

Exponential Medicine: The Most Advanced Nanotechnology Today Is Already Inside You

For me, the word nanotechnology evokes a specific image. Maybe you’re the same. It’s a machine. Perhaps a little futuristic. But something that wouldn’t seem out of place on the street or in a...

Exponential Medicine: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Designer Babies

Anywhere you look in the modern world, you’ll see humans translating science fiction into science fact. We make predictions about a far off future, and then our curiosity drives us to make it reality—whether...

Exponential Medicine: Healthcare Is Broken, Here’s How We’re Going Fix It

This week in San Diego, Singularity University is holding its Exponential Medicine Conference, a look at how technologists are redesigning and rebuilding today's broken healthcare system. (Editor's note: Singularity Hub will be covering Exponential Medicine...

How Aged Neurons In a Dish Can Accelerate Longevity Research

Aging insidiously leaves its mark on our brains. With age, our well-oiled neuronal machinery slowly breaks down: gene expression patterns turn wacky, the nuclear membrane disintegrates, and neatly organized molecules inside the cells break out...
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Will Artificial Intelligence Transform How We Grow and Consume Food? [Video]

Today, agriculture is more efficient than ever, but it's also more dependent on environmental, technological, and social issues like never before. Climate change, drought and other disasters, shifting energy landscapes, population growth, urbanization, GMOs, changes in...

A Genomics Revolution: Evolution by Natural Selection to Evolution by Intelligent Direction

Humanity is moving from evolution by natural selection (Darwinism) to evolution by intelligent direction. For most of human history, our average age was only about 26 years old. We would procreate at age 13, live just...

A Key Moment In Kenya: What Ed Tech Can Learn From the GMO Backlash

A trailblazing educational technology initiative backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and the World Bank has been stopped in its tracks by the government of Kenya. When it launched in 2009, Bridge International Academies served...

Brain-Controlling Sound Waves Used to Steer Genetically Modified Worms

Move over optogenetics, there’s a new cool mind-bending tool in town. A group of scientists, led by Dr. Sreekanth Chalasani at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, discovered a new way to control neurons using...

Meet the Mind-Controlling Algae Protein That Could Cure Blindness

It sounds completely crazy: as early as next year, using gene therapy scientists hope to restore sight in the blind by giving their eyes additional “light sensors.” We’re not talking about bionic eyes: instead of...

Why We Should Embrace — Not Fear — the Biohacker Uprising

Dr. Steve Kurtz was making arrangements for his wife Hope’s funeral when the FBI burst in. Kurtz, a professor of arts at the New York State University, was detained and interrogated for 22 hours as...
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What Will ‘Drag and Drop’ Gene Editing Do for You? Find Out on Ask an Expert [Video]

Biotechnology is moving blindingly fast: From $1,000 human genome sequencing to CRISPR gene editing, we're approaching an era when scientists can edit and rewrite the source code of life. Physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson...

Gene Editing Is Now Cheap and Easy—and No One Is Prepared for the Consequences

In April 2015, a paper by Chinese scientists about their attempts to edit the DNA of a human embryo rocked the scientific world and set off a furious debate. Leading scientists warned that altering...

The 3 Major Industries AI and Big Data Will Reshape This Decade

We live in an age of disruption — and that's a good thing. Industries will be transformed. Major companies will fall. Old systems will collapse as entrepreneurs figure out how to optimize and reinvent inefficient businesses, products,...

Gene Therapy May Be Our Newest — and Most Effective — Weapon Against Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2001, a team of neurologists at UC San Diego began testing a highly experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The process sounds far more sci-fi than science: Using tiny pieces of skin taken from the...

Is Technology Unnatural—Or Is It ‘What Makes Us Human’?

Beavers dam rivers; birds build nests; chimpanzees use sticks to fish for ants or termites. Nature at its best. But when humans build dams or use tools to feed ourselves, our creations, though admittedly...

What Has Science Ever Done for Us? ‘The Knowledge Wars’ Reviewed

The deadbeat boyfriend at the centre of Janet Jackson’s 1986 hit What Have You Done For Me Lately used to take Janet out to dinner almost every night. He used to do a lot...

A Peek at Some of the Coolest Companies in the SU Universe

"Want to become a billionaire? Then help a billion people." "The world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities." Both of these statements are the way I describe the premise of Singularity University's Graduate Studies...

How Stem Cells May Save Your Life—and Even Extend It

You are a collection of over 30 trillion human cells. Every one of these cells, those in your brain, lungs, liver, skin, and everywhere else, derives from a single pluripotent type of cell called a...

Watch This Swarm of Simple Robots Do Surprisingly Complex Things

Hero worship is deeply engrained in the human psyche. From King Arthur to Luke Skywalker, we long for an unlikely leader to arise, pull sword from stone (or ignite lightsaber), and heal the land. It’s...

GSP 2015 Closing Ceremony: Meet 20+ Startups With Revolution on the Brain

Join Singularity University August 20 at San Jose’s California Theatre for the 2015 Graduate Studies Program Closing Ceremony—a night of inspiration, impact, and exciting pitches for 20+ new startups aiming to tackle the world’s biggest challenges....

Can We Control Our Technological Destiny—Or Are We Just Along For the Ride?

“Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world…” – Marshall McLuhan A standard assumption of technological progress is that new innovations are born in our mind, and we humans choose which of...

Smartphone-Sized Genetic Sequencer Transcribes Entire Bacterial Genome

Scientists first transcribed the genome—or complete genetic code—of a free living organism in 1995. Sequencing the bacterium H. Influenzae took a little over a year, cost about $1 million, and required a (then) significant...

How Computers Will Crack the Genetic Code and Improve Billions of Lives

Machine learning and data science will do more to improve healthcare than all the biological sciences combined. This post is about how we're going to gather that health data, mine it and improve the lives of...

AI More Like Iron Man’s JARVIS Is Coming This Next Decade…Bring It On

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the most important technology we're developing this decade. It's a massive opportunity for humanity, not a threat. So, what is AI? Broadly, AI is the ability of a computer to understand your question,...

Feeding Tomorrow’s Billions: Lab-Grown Meat Products, Vertical Farms, AI-Designed Recipes, and More

Food and agriculture accounts for about 5.9% of the global GDP. Global food retail sales alone account for about $4 trillion/year, and food accounts for 15% of what American households spend each year. It is an...

2015’s Most Electrifying Emerging Tech? World Economic Forum Releases Annual List

Writing lists forecasting technology is a bit like writing science fiction. Prerequisites include intimate knowledge of the bleeding edge of technology, the ability to separate signal from noise, and more than a little audacity. Looking back,...

Which Industry Will Produce the Next Henry Ford…Space? 3D Printing? Biotech?

Modern machines, powerful and clever, have enabled us to attempt seemingly impossible tasks, like traveling to the moon. Now, mere decades after Apollo’s computers guided us to the lunar surface, millions carry vastly more processing...

Summit Spain: What Is The Greatest Challenge Humanity Faces Today?

“What is the greatest challenge humanity faces today?” This question was posed by Nick Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University, to the audience gathered at this year’s Summit Spain in Seville. “It depends...

Are We Hunting A Cure For Death In All The Wrong Places?

Death—that was so last century. Here in the early 21st, it’s all about life. More life. A lot more life. Right now, anti-aging medicine is booming. For certain, the size of the market is a...

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