juan_enriquez's picture
Managing Director, Excel Venture Management; Co-author (with Steve Gullans), Evolving Ourselves
Life Code

Everyone is familiar with Digital Code, or the shorthand IT. Soon all may be discoursing about Life Code…

It took a while to learn how to read life code; Mendel's initial cookbook was largely ignored. Darwin knew but refused, for decades, to publish such controversial material. Even a term that now lies within every cheesy PR description of a firm, on jeans, and pop psych books…DNA… was largely ignored after its 1953 discovery. For close to a decade very few cited Watson and Crick. They were not even nominated, by anyone, for a Nobel till after 1960, despite the discovery of how life code is written.

First ignorance then controversy continued dogging life code as humanity moved from reading it to copying it. Tadpoles were cloned in 1952, but few focused until Dolly the sheep begat wonder, consternation, and fear. Much the same occurred with in vitro fertilization and Louise Brown, a breakthrough that got the Nobel in 2010, a mere 37 years after the first birth. Copying genes and dozens of species, leading to hundreds of thousands of almost identical animals is now commonplace. The latest controversy is no longer how do we deal with rare clones but should we eat them.

Much has occurred as we learned to read and copy life code, but there is still little understanding for what has occurred recently. But it is this third stage of life code, writing and re-writing, is by far the most important and profound change. 

Few realize, so far, that life code is spreading across industries, economies, countries, and cultures. As we begin to rewrite existing life, strange things evolve. Bacteria can be programmed to solve Sudoku puzzles. Viruses begin to create electronic circuits. As we write life from scratch, Venter, Smith et al. partner with Exxon to try to change the world's energy markets. Designer genes introduced by retroviruses, organs built from scratch, the first synthetic cells further examples of massive change.

We see more and more products, derived from life code, changing fields as diverse as energy, textiles, chemicals, IT, vaccines, medicines, space exploration, agriculture, fashion, finance, and real estate. And gradually, "life code" a concept that only got 559 Goggle hits in 2000, and fewer than 50,000 in 2009, becomes a part of the everyday public discourse.

Many of the Fortune 500 within the next decade will be companies based on the understanding and application of life code, much as has occurred over the past decades with digital code leading to the likes of Digital, Lotus, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

But this is just the beginning. The real change will become apparent as we re-write life code to morph the human species. We are already transitioning from a humanoid that is shaped by and shapes its own environment into a Homo evolutis, a species that directly and deliberately designs and shapes its own evolution and that of other species…