If you’re into reverse engineering biological systems–in my mind, one of the most fun parts about AI programming–this talk by Drew Endy is absolutely a blast. Also be sure to check out the BioBricks project at or download the actual “bricks” at the MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts.

The BioBricks are sequences of DNA described in a standardized, open-source format where each sequence represents a single, interchangeable part or “device”. A data sheet is provided for each device that describes what it does and what its tolerances and parameters are, etc., similar to the data sheet for an electronics part. Like an electronic component, devices can be combined together to make more complicated structures. When you’re finished designing your device, the sequenced DNA can be inserted as a plasmid into a suitable host cell and used to make all kinds of cool stuff, like this biological film where the bacteria change color in response to light.

Hello World displayed by light-sensitive, color-changing eColi

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