When Bio will Eat the World.

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Courtesy of Vijay Pande’s presentation on When Biology Moves to Engineering. This image shows how Freedom leverages neural networks to detect cancer. Bio was once a discipline of religion, then empiricism, and now engineering.

I tweeted a thread today about Why Bio is Eating the World. Vijay Pande, a GP at A16Z Bio, commented and liked the thread. Vijay has a lot more expertise in this topic than me, so read his thoughts.

My synthesis of Vijay Pande’s ideas was mostly around why people with a longer-time horizon succeed with the Internet today. The Internet is a very efficient arbitrage of ideas, but a poor arbitrage of time.

Bio is the ultimate time arbitrage play with tremendous social and economic outcomes. My interest in “Why Bio will Eat the World” is not Kurzweilian. It’s that we are at the Information Age but haven’t yet reached the Age of Understanding.

Bio is the original IT. Cells are hardware. And DNA is software. Biological evolution has to do with environmental conditions while human evolution has to do with market conditions. Our world sits at an inflection point with the environment and markets. The need for “smart green growth” is urgent.

Bio is the intersection of atoms and bits. Early engineering bio of today resembles internet portals of the past. For the past forty years, we have been transitioning to an era of sustainability, dematerialization, and democratized value creation. I think Chamath summation of Bio is best in his 2018 Annual Social Capital Letter:

There are many different kinds of problems we can’t count on computers and software to solve. Many of them have one thing in common, which is that they aren’t problems about information. Instead, they’re problems about the physical world (“atoms vs. bits”, as people like to say). Whether we need to build matter up (make materials, design drugs, process fuels), break things down (clean up pollution, treat disease) or identify and interact with things in the physical world (sense lead in water, sequester contaminants), there are a lot of hard problems in the world that computers cannot solve, but that biology can.

My interest in Bio is less based on a technical or engineering basis, but more around my macro theses and interest in business model innovations. As an investor in consumer startups, I’m very interested in the consumer science around these products and what distribution looks like.

I’m looking forward to acquiring more expertise around the subject, so I can make better investments and empower the teams I work within this market.