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Take Two Of These Pills And Call Support In The Morning…

“McAfee launches a range of pharmaceutical anti-viral medications to thwart the growing problem of Biological computer viral attacks”

Sounds far fetched? Maybe not given that researches at Caltech have successfully engineered a biological computer which can calculate square roots using DNA replication.

Given that the researchers Lulu Quan and Erik Winfree have successfully demonstrated AND and OR logic gates at the biological scale, it’s inevitable in my mind that more and more complex systems will come in the future.

The current system contains 74 molecules and can emulate a 4 bit system, which can compute the square root of any number up t0 15, rounding down to the nearest whole number. Some would say this is quite an achievement, given the size of some operating system codebases, but the downside to the current research is that it takes a glacial 10 hours to complete the calculation – In a race between the DNA computer and my old Vista laptop, I expect I would win, perhaps not beating it by much though.

Of course, once there’s some monetary value in the data these systems are processing, hackers are bound to want to exploit it for profit. How will they get their code into the system I wonder? Perhaps by sabotaging your coffee machines, or introducing something into the water supply? The possibilities for a really bad, direct-to-dvd sci-fi movie are endless.

Where there are hackers, you will of course find McAfee. Expect to see the familiar red boxes on the “first aid” shelves of your local supermarket sometime soon.

If you want a full technical breakdown of the research, Quan and Winfree’s paper on the subject can be found at the Journal of The Royal Society website.

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