Government intelligence agencies have a plan to build computers that store information inside DNA and other organic molecules.
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), a group within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that develops technologies for U.S. intelligence services, announced plans to develop “tabletop”-sized machines that can store and retrieve data from large batches of polymers — a term that refers to a wide variety of long, stringlike molecules. Polymers can store data in the sequence of individual atoms or groups of atoms.
The project, which was reported by Nextgov, is an attempt to solve a basic problem of the modern era: the vast and growing costs of data storage. Datacenters around the world sucked up 416.2 terawatt hours of electricity in 2016. That’s about 3 percent of the global supply, according to a report in the Independent, and it accounts for 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Experts told the Independent that the world can’t sustain the exponential rate of global data center growth.