Bits ↔ Biology

Biology is fundamentally discrete, based on sets of nucleic and amino acids combined into genes and proteins. And computers are fundamentally discrete, based on bits of data processed by logic gates. The latter have long been used to study the former, but a range of emerging technologies are now making it possible to directly convert between these representations. Just as analog/digital and digital/analog converters provide the interface between computers and the physical world of sensors and actuators, "biology/digital" and "digital/biology" converters are allowing computers to create and control biological worlds. This workshop will gather researchers working at the boundary between bits and biology, to explore common themes and identify future opportunities.

The meeting is open but requires registration based on available space. To register send your name and any institutional affiliation you'd like to list to


May 1, 2014 E14 6th floor (pictures)

8:00-9:00 Registration


From A/D/A to B/D/B: Neil Gershenfeld (video)
The World's Largest Genomics Organization: Laurie Goodman, Yang Huanming (video)
From Megabytes to Megabases: Joseph Jacobson (video)
Reading and Writing Genomes in 3D: Erez Lieberman Aiden (video)
Principles of Genome Design: John Glass, James Pelletier (video)
How To Make Radically New Genomes: George Church (video)

10:30-11:00 Break


Engineering Materials with Synthetic Biology: Timothy Lu (video)
Synthetic and Natural Analog Computation in Living Cells: Rahul Sarpeshkar (video)
A Single Code For A Hundred Programs: Deciphering The Human Epigenome: Manolis Kellis (video)
Molecular Information Theory: Why is the Genetic Code Degenerate?: Tom Schneider (video)
Biomolecular Recognition: Andreas Mershin (video)
Genetic Rescue of Imperiled and Extinct Species: Ryan Phelan (video)

12:30-2:00 Lunch


Quantum Life: Seth Lloyd (video)
Photonic Reagents for Probing and Controlling Biological Systems: Denys Bondar, Alexei Goun (video)
Molecular Memory: Noah Jakimo (video)
Unwiring The Brain: Winfried Denk (video)
Digital Encoding For Scalable Brain Mapping: Adam Marblestone (video)
Mapping, Recording, Controlling, and Building Brains: Daniel Schmidt, Ed Boyden (video)

3:30-4:00 Break


A Comprehensive Understanding Of Simple Cells: Tom Knight (video)
Rapid Prototyping for Biological Design: Peter Carr (video)
Templating Biology for Design: Steven Keating, Markus Kayser, Neri Oxman (video)
Open Data, Open Humans: Charles Fracchia (video), Madeleine Ball (video)
Good Bits or Bad Bits? Keeping the New Biology Safe: David Rejeski, Carmine Nigro (video)
Living Foundries: Alicia Jackson (video)

5:30-7:00 Reception

May 2, 2014 E14 3rd floor

2:00-3:30 Media Lab Conversations Series

Joi Ito, Neil Gershenfeld, and Joe Jacobson in conversation with George Church