Info, bio, nano, or thermo? Turing’s revenge
People sometimes claim that we’re moving from the information age into the biotech age, or the nanotech age, or the age of energy. Will we really see such a shift, or is this just hype?
My recent thinking about the idea that everything should be code convinces me that the people claiming that such shifts will occur are wrong, at least in the case of biotech and nanotech.
It’s not that biotech and nanotech won’t make enormous, world-changing strides in the near future. They will. But the effect of many of those strides will be to bring biotech and nanotech effectively into the realm of information technology. Expressing biology and nanotechnology in the language of information allows you to set loose all the powerful ideas of computation. This is too much to pass up. So what we’ll see is not a shift, but rather a gradual convergence between the info, bio and nano worlds. Which of the three will have the upper hand, commercially, seems to me to be difficult to predict.
What about energy? Here the situation is different. Like information, energy has a fundamental, irreducible quality. Because of this, I expect we’ll see a complementary relationship between information and energy technologies, but one will never subsume the other.