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In an analogous way, Amirav-Drory wants to create a graphic user interface that would empower people to manipulate the arcane logic of DNA. His new software, Genome Compiler (free and available for download at www.genomecompiler.com), converts the various parts of a DNA sequence into easy-to-understand, and easily manipulable, icons. The software turns the complex task of DNA design into an easy drag-and-drop exercise. I caught up with Amirav-Drory recently at Singularity University where he took me through a demo of the program and told me how it might be used by researchers, biology hackers, and what sorts of risks are involved in bringing genetic design into the DIY space.

Trained as a biochemist at Tel Aviv University, Amirav-Drory knows firsthand that designing and constructing the DNA tools used for experiments is labor-intensive and plagued with too many fatal errors. “I hated cloning,” he admits. “It seemed silly to me.”

As a former…

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