Over the next decade, more value will be created by companies involved with synthetic biology (synbio) than by companies in most other technologies.
Why believe so?
By analogy, the invention of the microprocessor in the 1970s changed the world. It enabled software companies that sold nothing but computer code. That is a kind of company that could not have existed previously. The 1980s saw more value created in software companies than in most other technologies.
The invention of CRISPR-Cas gene editing in the 2010s has enabled a new kind of company that could not have existed previously. That is companies that sell DNA code. The 2020s will see more value created in programmed genes than ins most other technologies.
DNA as data
Today, your digital information is encoded and stored in bits of data. 8 bits can store the information of one letter of the alphabet. The words of an email usually need a few thousand bits. A photo or song needs a few million. A movie needs a few billion bits. The bits are stored in a tiny magnetic pieces in a hard drive or electrons in tiny metal pieces in other computer memory.
A piece of DNA is a sequence of bits of data stored in a very large molecule. You could encode your emails, photos, songs, and movies in DNA.
DNA is made of bases. Each base has the same information as two computer bits. DNA happens to be able to store the same information in a smaller space with less risk of information loss than computer memory. But that's beside the point.
DNA as instructions
In nature, DNA encodes information that cells transcribe and translate into proteins. Proteins are sequences of aminos. Aminos are like letters of an alphabet that has 20 letters. So, proteins are like words that are stored as DNA. The words are instructions.
Proteins instruct cells what to do and what to make. With the right instructions, cells can make and do amazing things. Things that we can barely even imagine. Mobile phones seem to have an app to do anything you want. Cells can be instructed, by intelligent programming of DNA, to do almost anything you want.
Want a cell to make gasoline for your car? There's a DNA code for that.
Want a cell to make resins for plastic? There's a DNA code for that.
Want a cell to break down plastic for recycling? There's a DNA code for that.
Want a cell to grow more food for hungry people? There's a DNA code for that.
Want to cure all genetic diseases? There's a DNA code for that.
Making cells with DNA programs is synbio.
What is synbio used for?
Producing carbon-neutral non-fossil fuels
Breaking down harmful materials
Producing novel useful materials
Improving the productivity of crops
Curing genetic diseases
Preventing genetic predispositions to other diseases
Producing medicines for non-genetic diseases
Things we haven't imagined yet
Smart scientists can now intelligently design living things with a skill previously only known to gods...
And so can hobbyists with the ease of the garage inventors of the 1980s who changed the world with software.