Microsoft Is Experimenting With DNA as a Way to Store Data
Given the massive amount of data it generates, Microsoft is looking into dabbling in DNA to store data. A tech startup called Twist Bioscience has handed Microsoft 10 million long oligonucleotides of DNA molecules, so it can start testing the use of this “prehistoric information technology” for long-term, secure data storage.
The Redmond based company is sending over lines of code as A’s, C’s, G’s, and T’s —the 0’s and 1’s of DNA code—and Twist is building molecules to those specs.
Could #DNA super charge the digital revolution? https://t.co/9UUnk4sBdO More on @TwistBioscience @MSFTResearch deal pic.twitter.com/dTj2hFcAXd
— Twist Bioscience (@TwistBioscience) April 27, 2016
Twist Bioscience’s CEO, Emily Leproust, told IEEE that the company’s making the strands “from scratch,” and doesn’t even know what the data says; you’d have to have the key, or sequence the genome, to read the molecules.
Microsoft, which has been looking to alternative means of storing the massive amount of data it generate, is interested in long-term storage capabilities. And Twist with its expertise provide perfect answer to Microsoft’s quest for the ultimate storagey Twist has a vested interest in getting people amped to pursue data storage in DNA, but it’s not all hype. Evolution has settled on DNA for the same reasons humans might: The stuff is incredibly durable, endlessly replicable, and fantastically compact. A gram of DNA might hold a zettabyte of data (that’s the trillion gigs cited in the tweet above).
DNA storage also holds the promise of being sort of a lingua franca for any future advanced civilization on planet Earth. Kept cold, Twist says, the lifespan of stable DNA might go from the low thousands of years into the millions. The last data format we ever need could also turn out to be the first one we ever used.