Edited by Satish Nambisan, Kalle Lyytinen and Youngjin Yoo
Chapter 14: The bits and bytes of biology: digitalization fuels an emerging generative platform for biological innovation
Extending its long-held empirical traditions, biology is beginning to fully embrace the digital age. The availability of publicly accessible online libraries and databases, the transformation of complex images into pixels, the recent development of new, powerful, and inexpensive sequencing technologies, and the availability of unprecedented computational tools and resources have digitized, digitalized, and mathematized the study of life. Describing life and its components has never been so extensive, exhaustive, integrated, and inclusive. Two transformational developments in biology have made it possible to digitize and fully connect both the diversity and complexity of life. First, evolutionary theory connects the entirety of life together through common ancestry, providing shared links across diversity. Second, the molecules that code for life’s organismal complexity are shared, finite, and foundational. Leveraging evolutionary insight onto an integrated genomics platform with digitized biology is transforming biology from a science that was primarily pattern-based, then process-based, to a highly digitalized science of biological prediction and innovation with unprecedented consequences in the biological sciences and beyond.
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