Monday, April 10, 2006

iPod, therefore I am

The first draft sequence of the human genome was completed 5 years ago at a cost of $300 million. According to an article in the March 17th issue of Science, researchers expect it will soon be possible to sequence an individual's DNA for $1000.

Three billion base pairs, tens of thousands of genes. As I figure it, the complete sequence of my genome would just about fit on a single CD -- without compression, about which I understand little. Imagine sending off a fleck of spit and a thousand bucks and getting back one's genome. Netflix for genes.

A template for building a Chet clone. More information than I want to know, or want anyone else to know. But not yet a Chet. There's also the nearly 70 years of experience stored in my brain -- a hundred billion neurons, each with a thousand or so possible connections, an almost unimaginable amount of information. OK, more disks. Lots more.

Tom has the complete works of Bach in a boxed set of 160 CDs. It all fits on his 20 GB iPod as compressed MP3 files, and -- he assures me -- leaves enough room for Handel, Corelli, Telemann, Purcell, Vivaldi and Rameau. Will the day come when we can achieve a kind of immortality by downloading a reasonable proximity of our coded selves into a iPod? Do we want that day to come?