Friday, May 1, 2015

History Can Be Nonlinear

There is a wonderful piece in Backchannel describing the past and prognosticating the future of Silicon Valley. The author seems to state that Silicon Valley is unique and that it has a form of self perpetuation using its links to its past. The new entrepreneurs learn from the old.

The author concludes:

People around the world have tried to reproduce Silicon Valley. No one has succeeded. And no one will succeed because no place else — including Silicon Valley itself in its 2015 incarnation — could ever reproduce the unique concoction of academic research, technology, countercultural ideals and a California-specific type of Gold Rush reputation that attracts people with a high tolerance for risk and very little to lose. Partially through the passage of time, partially through deliberate effort by some entrepreneurs who tried to “give back” and others who tried to make a buck, this culture has become self-perpetuating.

History is not linear. I suspect that the future will be less dependent upon micro circuits than upon micro RNA. Looking around Kendall Square one senses the future. Still assembling itself, but the sense of entrepreneurial drive, the true formative and life changing science and technology, and the amalgam of people is unique, and more life changing that silicon.

Carbon will beat silicon. The DNA circuitry and its decoding and re-engineering will be more world changing and world disturbing that anything we have yet seen in Silicon Valley. The difference is also one of style and scope. The ability of a tech company to start in a strip mall type office in the Valley is replaced by the need for a complex lab and a bunch of Illumina machines. Wet labs replace scopes and integrated circuits.

This is a form on abrupt creative destruction that all too often sets paths for new technology. The early entrepreneurs are starting to pop up in this market, and we will most likely see an explosion soon. Will Silicon Valley adapt, survive, enter this race. Just being able to program will be left behind, it will be the world of visionaries who understand biological systems and who can "engineer" them, not just research them.