So, I want to write a realistic alternate timeline where people switch to biotechnology in the 21st century, assuming that the technology to make it it already there. I have postulated several reasons as to why people would make such a switch.

I also want to make a plausible tech progression tree.

Here are the reason I have postulated

1: Less power consumption

Despite requiring complex molecules for nutrition and construction of cells, once they are built up, cells consume surprisingly little power when operating, I mean, look at the human brain; a whole computer network of processing power for only twenty watts of power.

2: Self-replication

Provided you have enough resources, biological constructs can be grown instead of built, despite being initially expensive to make, like silicon chips, their cost would quickly decrease, you might even be able to make improvements to a system in-situ without having to take out as many old components. or conceive an entirely new system for each new generation.

3: Self-repair

Organisms have an incredible ability to fix themselves or work around existing damage, with good engineering and a robust immune system, they could fight off old age and cancer for potentially forever, assuming auxillary machinery doesn't break down.

4: DNA is a very dense long term information storage medium

Despite being very fragile to disruptions such as radiation and mutation, given adequate built-in redundancy, error compensation systems and shielding, DNA would be an excellent way to store data long-term in a small space,

This would be excellent for interstellar probes and von-neumann machines as space travel demands that every gram counts.

And now, the tough part

I have already wrote a rough technological generation list below, but I'm not sure it's realistic as some technologies might already exist before a given tier;

Here is how technology might progress in my setting...

The First Generation

First generation are made up of crude, prototype systems, based off of animal cell strains, they are prone to cancer and other failures and require delicate and fiddly external support systems, this restricts them to laboratory use

The Second Generation

The second generation is a lot better, using modified animal cells, but still has issues like needing to warm up, they can hibernate, but going completely to sleep is too risky. This generation is more flexible in installation location, but is still bound to a lab environment

The Third Generation

Third generation devices use cells manufactured with composite DNA, and are better interfaced with electronic systems, allowing for better self-management, they also have lower warmup times. Biotechnology is now reliable enough to be sold to the public, albeit a bit more expensive than existing appliances.

Fourth Generation

The Fourth generation devices can turn themselves off without doing damage and turn themselves back on quickly, they are made out of cells manufactured with entirely synthetic, purpose built DNA and are properly enmeshed with compact and intricate electronic systems. Biotechnology is now widespread, with plenty of knowledge about how to use and maintain it.

Is this tech progression list plausible?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is there a question here? Also, 'biotechnology' is the wrong term, 'biological constructs' would be better, and half your assumptions are wrong. Biological constructs require more power and are harder to repair. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Jun 24 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Consider opening with your question or proposition. Always a good start for a presentation. For example: I want to substitute hydrogen cells for agriculture in producing food. Or: I want bioengineered creatures to substitute for internal combustion engines. Your post as it stands is much excellent scheming about your biotech; clearly where your heart is. But not much on application and so I am not sure how to reply or answer. Except to say "it looks cool; add a question". $\endgroup$ – Willk Jun 24 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ I am new to this forum $\endgroup$ – Tronzoid Jun 24 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I retracted my close vote. It was a minimal change, but it did present an answerable form. Thanks! Please note for future questions that you need to be specific, have one question, and ask in a manner that, ideally, has one best answer. Thanks for joining us. We look forward to helping you build your world! $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 24 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ The human brain uses only twenty watts of power and it's absolutely amazing at being a brain. It absolutely sucks at imitating a computer; not only is the human brain horrendously slow at performing calculations, but most human brains are incapable of performing anything more complicated than division. Does your brain even know how to compute $\sqrt[\leftroot{3}\uproot{2}3]{\arctan 0.1828}$ ? And you didn't even say what specific applications you have in mind. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 24 at 18:24

I said it in a comment, and now that there's a question I'll say it in my answer.

This is implausible in a realistic setting because biological constructs aren't superior to simple machines for the vast majority of work.

For starters, this is because technology should be simple as possible. In a perfect world, everything works perfectly, but this isn't a perfect world, this is reality and things don't work well in reality. In reality, a human being can't put a basketball through a hoop 100 times out of 100. In fact, without years of specialized training and practice, a human can't even put a basketball through a hoop a measly 50 times out of 100 at a range of 47 ft. (That's a half-court shot, in case you're wondering.) A robot can be specialized built for the task, no problem - in fact a robot can be custom designed to launch any spherical projectile with accuracy over a much greater distance than a human can. And humans were biologically designed to be able to throw things well. This is because human systems are far more complicated than a robot, and can do more things as a result, but can specialized as well at a simple task like a simple robot can. There's no point in making a complex biological mechanism when a mundane mechanical one will do just fine.

Additionally, biological lifeforms use far more energy than machines do - ultimately, all work requires energy and the more efficient you can transfer that energy, the less energy required to perform any given task. Energy in the form of electricity is a far more efficient means of transfer than energy transferred via the creation and breakdown of complex organic molecules.

While it's true biological lifeforms can self-replicate, having the lifeform itself be able to do it means that part of its life cycle is dedicated towards reproduction, which is more energy expenditure. And while there aren't machine that can self-duplicate, there are machines which can build smaller machines faster and more efficient than a nursery can - hence industrial scale production. While biological life can self-repair, but not from grievous injuries (humans can't regrow limbs, unfortunately), whereas you can just put a fresh arm on a machine, thanks to the simplicity of it. Immortality is also off the table - there's no such thing as a being that can live forever, and mechanical constructs are actually better at surviving long term than biological ones, again because they're simple and less things go wrong.

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