We are the Molecular Programming Society, an international grassroots team of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs, who are programming the behavior of physical matter.
We build liquid computers that run on chemistry, instead of electricity. Using these chemical computers, we program non-biological matter to grow, heal, adapt, communicate with the surrounding environment, replicate, and disassemble.
The same switches that make up your laptops and cell phones can be implemented as chemical reactions . In electronics, information is encoded as high or low voltages of electricity. In our chemical computers, information is encoded as high or low concentrations of molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, and other chemicals). By designing how these components bind to each other, we can program molecules to calculate square roots , implement neural networks that recognize human handwriting , and play a game of tic-tac-toe . Chemical computers are slow, expensive, error prone, and take incredible effort to program… but they have one key advantage that makes them particularly exciting:
The outputs of chemical computers are molecules, which can directly bind to and rearrange physical matter.
Broad libraries of interfaces exist  that allow chemical computers to control the growth and reconfiguration of nanostructures, actuate soft robotics up to the centimeter scale, regulate drug release, grow metal wires, and direct tissue growth. Similar interfaces allow chemical computers to sense environmental stimuli as inputs, including chemical concentrations, pressure, light, heat, and electrical signals.
In the near future, chemical computers will enable humans to control matter through programming languages, instead of top-down brute force. Intelligent medicines will monitor the human body for disease markers and deliver custom therapeutics on demand. DNA-based computers will archive the internet for ultra-long term storage. In the more distant future, we can imagine programming airplane wings to detect and heal damage, cellphones to rearrange and update their hardware at the push of a button, and skyscrapers that grow up from seeds planted in the earth.
Currently our society is drafting a textbook called The Art of Molecular Programming, which will elucidate the principles of molecular programming and hopefully inspire more people (you!) to help us spark this second computer revolution.
Our grassroots team includes members who work at Aalto University, Brown, Cambridge, Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, Nanovery, NIST, National Taiwan University, Newcastle University, North Carolina A&T State University, Technical University of Munich, University of Malta, University of Edinburgh, UCLA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, UT Austin, University of Vienna, and University of Washington. Collectively, our society members have published over 900 peer-reviewed papers on topics related to molecular programming.
The principles of molecular programming are currently scattered across thousands of papers, which presents a barrier for new researchers entering the field. The Art of Molecular Programming is a grassroots community initiative to collect these principles in one location, providing tutorial lessons to guide students’ learning, and presenting a collective vision on where the field is heading.
Check out our sister project!
molpigs, the Molecular Programming Interest Group, is a group aimed at PhD students and early career researchers within the fields of Molecular Programming, DNA Computing, and other related specialties. We currently host a podcast discussing research and experiences from people across our fields!