From “cells as computation” to “cells as apps”
Andrea Bracciali  1  , Enrico Cataldo  2  , Claudio Felicioli  3  , Roberto Marangoni  2  , Pasquale Stano  4  
1 : Stirling University
2 : University of Pisa
3 : Fabnami GmbH
4 : University of "Roma Tre"

We reflect on the computational aspects that are embedded in life at the molecular and cellular level, where life machinery can be understood as a massively distributed system whose macroscopic behaviour is an emerging property of the interaction of its components. Such a relatively new perspective, clearly pursued by systems biology, is contributing to the view that biology is in several respects a quantitative science. The recent developments in biotechnology and synthetic biology, noticeably, are pushing the computational interpretation of biology even further, envisaging the possibility of a programmable biology. Several in silico, in vitro and in vivo results make such a possibility a very concrete one. The long-term implications of such an “extended” idea of programmable computation on a living hardware, as well as the applications that we intend to develop on those “computers”, pose fundamental questions.



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