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"None of us, no matter what continent or island or ice cap, asked to be born in the first place, and that even somebody as old as I am, which is 80, only just got here."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

  A computer that is made of organic (biological) components, rather than inorganic materials like silicon.  

There are a number of limits that are gradually being approached in fabricating computer chips with silicon and other elements. One is size; we are coming to the point where it is no longer possible to squeeze more transistors into a smaller area. Another is power (and heat); faster processors use a lot more energy, and for that reason have a significant problem with waste heat (leave your laptop on your lap for more than 15 minutes and you'll see what I mean!).

So, why not turn to nature for a better computing model?

Why limit oneself to silicon and protein and biochips a hundreth of a millimeter wide, when in almost every living cell there was already a functioning computer with a huge memory? A mammallian cell had a DNA complement of several million base pairs, each acting as a piece of information. What was reproduction, after all, but a compterized biological process of enormous complexity and reliability? The earliest biologic strings had been inserted into E. coli bacteria as circular plasmids. The E. coli had absorbed the plasmids and incorporated them into their original DNA. The bacteria had then duplicated and released the plasmids, passing on the biologic to other cells... the cells developed their own memory and the ability to process and act upon environmental information.
From Blood Music, by Greg Bear.
Published by Arbor House in 1984
Additional resources -

Work has been done to create computer circuits with organic components; see this news article on the leechulator, a calculator made up of neurons taken from leeches.

Take a look at the entry for intellectual cell from the same book; there is an interesting quote (with a link) from a talk by Seymour Cray, the father of supercomputing, about biological computers.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Blood Music
  More Ideas and Technology by Greg Bear
  Tech news articles related to Blood Music
  Tech news articles related to works by Greg Bear

Biologics-related news articles:
  - The Most Complex Synthetic Biology Circuit

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