Now there is a scary thought, bad actors developing malware and other code to hack people’s DNA. Sounds like a great plot for the movie industry to build a series around. Or did they already do it with the Matrix franchise?
Why even bring this up in the first place? According to an article by Digital Trends, the human race is in danger of running out of storage. At first glance, that doesn’t seem possible. With technology constantly advancing, it seems the amount of storage is inexhaustible. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.
According to the article, every day, the 3.7 billion people using the internet create 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data. The article continues saying we have created 90% of the world’s data in the last two years alone! That is a lot of selfies and text messages, to say the least.
If you have never pondered where your data goes when you upload it to the cloud, there is a simple answer; it goes to giant server farms scattered all around the world. These operations are amazing in their own right. There are redundant systems for everything like power, air conditioning, and of course, data storage and retrieval. One center I visited had an impressive sally-port entry system complete with biometric scanners and bullet resistant walls. Data is serious business.
Where does DNA come into the data storage picture? The article states that DNA has been considered for data storage since its discovery in 1953. Scientists saw the molecular pairs as ideal representations of data structures. But there were too many technical bottlenecks until recently when a startup company by the name of Catalog provided proof of the storage concept.
Catalog has created the ability to store vast amounts of data using a handful of different molecules they manufacture then assemble into a DNA style structure. You can take a breath now; the data isn’t stored in living DNA with the potential for mutants to emerge and rule the world. It is stored in a polymer structure. Hyunjun Park, CEO, and co-founder of Catalog says their DNA storage density is 1 million times that of a modern solid-state drive! Now that is a lot of storage.
The technology does have its limitations. First of all, accessing the data is a bit more complicated than using a USB device. The Catalog drive is built from scratch and filled with data. This results in a solid polymer pellet with gigantic amounts of data. However, to retrieve the data, you must rehydrate the pellet with water and use a DNA sequencer to pull out the data. The process takes several hours.
I guess this isn’t going to be a consumer product anytime soon. As much as I would like my own DNA sequencer, my wife isn’t going to let me invest in one. But the folks at Catalog are undaunted and are targeting the archival market for their initial products. Which is, I suspect, the reason for their company name. The DNA drive is an excellent solution for keeping historical records currently stored on microfiche, magnetic tapes, and optical disks. This is the data you hope never to have to access but want it available, just in case.
Catalog is also studying other uses. One possible application is to store a person’s complete medical history including all images from MRIs and x-rays, then implanting it under the skin so only authorized medical personnel can access it as necessary.
My flight of fancy turned to keeping all personal data in a polymer pellet and only bringing it into contact with the world when needed. The rest of the time, it would sit somewhere, inert and unassailable.
Interesting enough, this is exactly how the CRIP.TO Black hardware device works. Black encrypts and stores all your personal data within its memory. The only time the data is in “contact” with the outside world is when it is used to communicate with another CRIP.TO user. The rest of the time, the data is safely out of reach, protected by our custom recipe of encryption algorithms. It doesn’t require a DNA sequencer to access the data, but it may be more secure. And, it does not require surgery to keep your data with you.
CRIP.TO is dedicated to giving its customers the freedom to communicate fearlessly. Check out our best-in-class solution that gives individuals, groups, and companies the best end-to-end encryption solution available.