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Weekend Wisdom - The next big thing

In the 1970s and '80s, digital electronics was exploding just below the surface of public awareness. Early adopters were starting to use it, mainstream media was starting to report on it (usually with little understanding of what they were writing or reporting about) and entrepreneurs were getting fabulously wealthy or furiously broke. By the end of that two-decade period, personal and small business computers were pretty much entrenched. The same thing was happening in the 1990s and '00s with the Internet. Wireless interconnected devices (The Internet of Things, AKA IoT) did a repeat in the '00s and '10s. [Yes, that's some overlap. It would be nice to easily compartmentalize everything, but the real world doesn't always work that way.]

A few similar technological revolutions have been brewing just under the surface for the last decade now. One would be biotech - genetic tools based on RNA, DNA and a set of enzymes and proteins. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this tech sector dramatically over the last two and a half years and we will be hearing a lot more from this technology soon.

Genetic computing (GC) had been saddled up right along in research mode with genetic editing. GC means to take artificial genetic structures and use them as computing devices. The intention of GC is not to modify or create life, but to create a new computational technology system. Maybe the next tech explosion will be in bioelectronics - a hybrid system directly connecting biologic life and digital electronics.

Our own field of electronics has been at the top of the pyramid of innovation for about 50 years now. Has that half century only been the beginning? Will quantum computing or bioelectronics keep it there? Or is electronics about to fade into the background as an important and useful construct of society like materials science or conventional biology? Talk of the end of Moore's Law has been around for a while now, as has supposed limits to semiconductor geometry. At some point great leaps will give way to incremental improvements. Is that time now? Will the bulk of innovative minds and investment capital migrate to biotech, genetic computing or something else that most of us aren't yet aware of?

Personally, I think the age of innovation in electronics is not yet over, but I suspect that a lot of really bright young minds are taking a long and hard look at biotech and GC as they are making education and career choices. Bioelectronics will be a good bridge, but in a decade or two, it is possible that even that will be in the background with GC and other biotech getting the money and the minds.

Duane Benson
I've heard that "it's mind over matter"
But what if mind and matter are the same thing?

While contemplating mind over matter, hop over to Screaming Circuits www.screamingcircuits.com, and get the creation of your mind (your PCB) turned in to matter (a PCBA).

Comments

We are seeing a lot fewer young folks in electronics design. I think a lot are heading to software these days.

When I first started I remember someone telling me all boards are basically the same. That's an oversimplification, but there's something to it. I work in biotech electronics, and some of the things I do are similar to past jobs: industrial wireless, consumer electronics, telecom circuit cards.

It feels like for the past 20 years, people interested in tech didn't go into electronics hardware, and now it's in high demand.

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