What happens when a bio-cracker unleashes a plant virus on all the wheat in North America, and the genetic code to ‘Wheat 2.0’ is closed-source, patented code owned by a corporation?

There are some clear similarities between genetic code (the blueprint for lifeforms) and software code (the instructions that define a computer program). The Economist recently published an article on the subject.

One could argue that the biggest difference between genetic code and software code is that one is biologically based and the other is based on logic. A few years ago, that argument might have held up, but the biotech and nanotech industries have really blurred the lines. Something could be both a computer and a life form.

Perhaps the greatest remaining difference between genetic code and software code is the history of its ownership. Software code is a 20th century invention, while genetic code has surrounded us long before we knew it existed.

Software code was freely shared between people until the late 1970’s, when corporations discovered they could make money with a proprietary model. In that model…

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