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DNA 能不能用来储存数字数据? – 译学馆
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DNA 能不能用来储存数字数据?

All the World's Data in DNA | Dina Zielinski | TEDxVienna

[Music]
[音乐]
I could fit all movies ever made inside of this tube.
我可以把有史以来所有的电影装进这个瓶子里
If you can’t see it, that’s kind of the point.
如果你看不见它 那就对了
Before we understand how this is possible,
在我们理解“这怎么可能”之前
it’s important to understand the value of this feat.
我们要先理解这项创举的价值
All of our thoughts and actions these days,
如今我们所有的想法和行动
through photos and videos,
都体现在照片和视频中
even our fitness activities, are stored as digital data.
就连我们的健身运动 也都以电子数据的形式存储着
Aside from running out of space on our phones,
我们很少去思考我们的电子足迹
we rarely think about our digital footprint.
除了在手机内存不足的时候
But humanity has collectively generated more data
但是人类在过去几年集体产生的数据
in the last few years than all of preceding human history.
比以往任何时候都要多
Big data has become a big problem.
大数据已经成为了一个大问题
Digital storage is really expensive,
数字存储非常昂贵
and none of these devices that we have really stand the test of time.
而且现有的设备都不能真正经得起时间的考验
There’s this nonprofit website called the “Internet Archive”.
有一个非营利网站 叫做“互联网档案馆”
In addition to free books and movies,
除了免费的书籍和电影
you can access web pages as far back as 1996.
你还可以在上面找到1996年以来的网页
Now this is very tempting,
这可是非常诱人的
Um, but I, I decided to go back
但我决定回到过去
and look at the TED website very humble beginnings.
看看TED网站最初那种简朴的样子
As you can see, it’s changed quite a bit in the last 30 years.
可以看到 它在过去30年里改变了很多
So this led me to the first ever TED back in 1984.
我在网站上找到了发表于1984年的第一场TED演讲
And it just so happened to be a Sony executive
碰巧的是 当时有位索尼的高管
explaining how a compact disc works.
在解释光盘的运作原理
Now, it’s, it’s really incredible
让人难以置信的是
to able to go back in time and access this moment.
我们居然能回到过去 看到这一时刻
It’s also really fascinating that after 30 years, after that first TED,
有趣的是 在第一次TED演讲的30年后
we’re still talking about digital storage.
我们还在谈论着数字存储
Now, if you look back another 30 years,
如果我们再回头看看30年前
IBM released the first ever hard drive back in 1956.
IBM在1956年推出了史上第一个硬盘驱动器
Here it is being loaded for shipping in front of a small audience.
它在这里被装载上车 有一小群人围观
It held the equivalent of one mp3 song
它的容量相等于一首MP3歌曲
and weight over one ton.
却重达1吨多
At $10,000 a megabyte,
一兆字节价值一万美元
I don’t think anyone in this room would be interested in buying this thing,
我想这里不会有人有兴趣把它买下来
except maybe as a collector’s item.
除非是把它当作收藏品
But it’s the best that we could do at the time.
但这是我们在当时最好的产品了
We’ve come such a long way in data storage.
数据储存的技术已经进步了很多
Devices have evolved dramatically.
设备已经显著进化了
But all media eventually wear out and become obsolete.
但所有的媒体最终都会磨损 或者被淘汰掉
If someone handed you a floppy drive today
今天 如果有人递给你一个软盘驱动器
to back up your presentation,
让你为演示文稿做备份
you’d probably look at them kind of strange, maybe laugh.
你可能会奇怪的看着他们 可能还会大笑
But you’d have no way to use the damn thing.
但这该死的东西根本就不能用
These devices can no longer meet our storage needs,
这些设备已经满足不了我们的储存需求了
although some of them can be repurposed.
尽管有些还可以被改作其他用途
All technology eventually dies
所有的科技最终都会死亡
or is lost along with our data, all of our memories.
或者连同我们的数据和所有的回忆消失掉
There’s a delusion that the storage problem has been solved.
有些人以为储存技术的问题已经解决了
But really we all just externalize it.
但实际上 我们只是把它外化了
We don’t worry about storing our e-mails and our photos,
我们不担心电子邮件和照片的储存
they’re just in the Cloud.
它们都在云端上
But behind the scenes, storage is problematic.
但在 储存问题依然存在于幕后
After all, the Cloud is just a lot of hard drives.
毕竟 云端只不过是由许多硬盘组成的
Most of recorded human knowledge is now digital,
如今 人类的大部分知识都以数字形式记录
and there’s a lot of it.
而且数据多的是
Modern media lasts tens of years if we’re lucky.
如果我们幸运的话 现代媒体还可以用上几十年
Reading and writing and exposure to moisture and heat
读取和写入的活动 以及暴露在湿热环境
wears them out even more quickly.
使它们损毁得更快
We’re lucky for get a few years out of these things.
如果这些东西能用上几年 我们就走运了
Man-made devices just are not very reliable
人造的设备就是不太可靠
and quickly become obsolete.
而且很快就会被淘汰
This was a popular storage device in the 80s and 90s,
这是八九十年代流行的一款存储设备
mostly for storage cheesy pop songs.
主要用于存储肉麻的流行歌曲
Yet, the important link between these two objects is already being forgotten.
然而 这两个物体之间的重要联系已逐渐被遗忘
The more advanced computers get,
电脑越先进
the more data we create.
我们制造的数据就越多
Storage has really been an issue since that first ever hard drive.
自从首张硬碟问世以来 储存一直都是问题
And in fact, no media manufacturer in the world
而实际上 世界上没有媒体制造商
will guarantee that you’ll be able to recover your data
可以保证你的数据将恢复得了
with a exception of a few costly solutions.
除非使用一些昂贵的解决方法
Now, most digital data we could argue is not really critical,
我们可以假设大部分电子数据其实不太重要
surely we could just delete it.
把它删掉不就好了吗?
But how can we really know what’s important today?
但是我们今时今日 又能怎样知道哪些数据重要呢?
We’ve learned so much about human history
我们从绘画 字迹 洞穴和石碑
from drawings and writings and caves, from stone tablets.
学到了关于人类历史的很多知识
We’ve deciphered languages from the Rosetta Stone.
我们已经破译了罗塞塔石碑的语言
You know, we’ll never really have the whole story though.
不过 我们永远也看不到完整的历史了
Our data is our story, even more so today.
我们的数据就是我们的历史 现在更是这样
We won’t have our record recorded on stone tablets.
我们不会在石碑上做任何记录
But we don’t have to choose what is important now.
但我们不必现在就决定哪些数据才是重要的
There’s a way to store it all.
有个办法可以把一切都存储下来
We’ve been steadily improving this flimsy technology from floppy disks to flash drives.
从软盘到闪存盘 这个脆弱的技术一直都在提升
But it’s not enough, these are pretty short-term solutions.
但这是不够的 这些都只是短期的解决办法
It turns out that there’s a solution that’s been around for a few billion years,
其实 有一个解决方法已经存在了数十亿年
and it’s actually in this tube.
它就在这个瓶子里
DNA is nature’s oldest storage device.
DNA是自然界最古老的存储设备
After all, it contains all the information
毕竟 它包含了
necessary to build and maintain a human being.
制造和维持人体所需的所有信息
But what makes DNA so great?
但是 为什么DNA如此厉害呢?
Well, let’s take our own genome as an example.
我们就以人类的基因组为例
If we were to print out all three billion As, Ts, Cs and Gs,
如果我们用标准的字体和形式
on a, you know, standard font, standard format.
把30亿个A T C 和 G 全都打印出来
And then we were to stack all of those papers,
然后把这些纸张叠起来
it would be about a hundred and forty meters high.
这叠纸就会有大约140米高
Somewhere between the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument.
其高度会介于自由女神像和华盛顿纪念碑之间
Now if you converted all those As, Ts and Gs
如果你把这些 A T 和 G
to digital data, to zeros and ones.
全都转换成电子数据 也就是 0 和 1
It would total a few gigs
总数据量就会有几千兆字节
and that’s in each cell of our body.
这是人体每一个细胞的数据量
We have more than thirty trillion cells.
人体内共有超过30万亿个细胞
You get the idea.
明白了吧
DNA can store a ton of information in a miniscule space.
DNA 可以在微小的空间里储存大量信息
DNA is also very durable,
DNA 也很持久
and it doesn’t even require electricity to store it.
数据的储存甚至不需要电力
We know this, because scientists
我们知道这一点
have recovered DNA from ancient humans
是因为科学家已从数十万年前的古人身上
that lived hundreds of thousands of years ago.
提取到了DNA
One of those is Otzi, the Iceman,
其中一个就是“冰人”奥兹
turns out he’s Austrian.
他是奥地利人
You know, scientists were able to recover DNA from Otzi.
科学家从奥兹身上提取到了DNA
He was found high well preserved in the mountains
他在意大利和奥地利之间的高山被寻获时
between Italy and Austria.
身体保存得非常完好
And it turns out that he has living genetic relatives here in Austria today.
后来发现 他的血缘亲戚今天就生活在奥地利这里
So one of you could be a cousin of Otzi.
所以你们当中或许有人就是奥兹的远亲
The point is that we have a better chance of recovering information from an ancient human
重点是 我们从古人身上恢复信息的机会
than we do from an old phone.
比从旧手机恢复信息来得大
It’s also much less likely that we’ll lose the ability to read DNA
我们失去读取DNA的能力的机会
than any single man-made device.
也比任何一个人造设备低了很多
Every single new storage format requires a new way to read it.
每一种新的储存格式都需要一种新的读取方法
We’ll always be able to read DNA.
但我们永远都会读取得到DNA
If we can no longer sequence,
如果我们再也无法进行DNA排序
we have bigger problems than worrying about data storage.
我们的问题恐怕比数据储存还要严重了
Storing data on DNA is not new.
用DNA储存数据不是新的技术
Nature’s been doing it for several billion years.
大自然已经这样做了数十亿年
In fact, every living thing is a DNA storage device.
事实上 每一个生物都是DNA储存设备
But how do we store data on DNA?
但是 数据怎样储存在DNA上呢?
This is Photo 51.
这是照片51号
It’s the first ever photo of DNA,
是史上第一张DNA的照片
taken about 60 years ago.
它是大约60年前拍下的
This is around the time that that same hard drive was released by IBM.
IBM推出那台新的硬碟 也是大概同一个时期
So really our understanding of digital storage
所以 我们对数字储存的理解
and of DNA have co-evolved.
跟我们对DNA的理解是共同加深的
We first learned to sequence or read DNA
我们先学会了怎样排序或者读取DNA
and very soon after, how to write it or synthesize it.
紧接着又学会了怎样写入或者生成DNA
This is much like how we learn a new language.
这个过程与学习新语言很相似
And now we have the ability to read, write and copy DNA.
现在 我们有了读取 写入和复制DNA的能力
We do it in the lab all the time.
我们常常在实验室里这么做
So anything, really, anything that can be stored as 0s and 1s,
所以 任何能以0和1的形式储存的信息
can be stored in DNA.
都可以储存在DNA中
To store something digitally, like this photo,
如果要以数字形式储存某个东西 比如这张照片
we converted it to bits or binary digits.
我们要把它转换成比特或二进制数字
Each pixel in a black and white photo is simply a 0 or a 1.
一张黑白照片中的每一个像素都是0或者1
And we can write DNA
我们写入DNA的过程
much like an inkjet printer can print letters on a page.
与喷墨打印机在纸上打印字母的过程相似
We just have to convert our data.
只需要把数据转换过去即可
All of those 0s and 1s, to As, Ts, Cs and Gs.
也就是把 0 和 1 都转换成 A T C 和 G
And then we send this to a synthesis company.
然后将这些信息送往DNA生成公司
So we write it, we can store it,
所以我们可以把它写入并储存起来
and when we want to recover our data, we just sequence it.
如果我们要恢复数据 我们进行排序就行了
Now, the fun part of all of this is deciding what files to include.
最好玩的部分 就是决定哪些文档应包含在内
So, we are serious scientists,
我们都是很认真的科学家
so we had to include a manuscript for good posterity.
所以必须加个文稿 传承下去
We also included a $50 Amazon gift card.
我们还加入了价值50美元的亚马逊礼品卡
Don’t get to excited, it’s already been spent, someone decoded it.
先别太高兴 礼品卡已经被人破译 花掉了
As well as an operating system,
我们还加入了一个操作系统
one of the first movies ever made, and a Pioneer plaque.
最早期的一部电影 以及先驱者号的金属板
Some of you might have seen this,
你们可能看过这个金属板
it has a depiction of a typical, apparently, male and female.
上面画的应该是典型的男性和女性的图片
And our approximate location in the solar system,
还有我们在太阳系的大概位置
in case the Pioneer space craft ever encounters extraterrestrials.
要是先驱者号遇到外星人 金属板就能派上用场
So once we decided what sort of files we want to encode,
所以 决定了要储存哪些文档后
we package up the data,
我们会把数据打包
convert those 0s and 1s to As, Ts, Cs and Gs.
把 0 和 1 转换成 A T C 和 G
And then we just send this file off to a synthesis company,
然后把这个文档传送给DNA生成公司
and this is what we got back.
我们得到的就是这个
Our files were in this tube.
我们的文档就在这个瓶子中
All we had to do was sequence it.
只需要进行排序就行了
This all sounds pretty straight forward.
这一切听起来直截了当
But the difference between a really cool or fun idea and something we can actually use
但是 如果要把这个好玩的想法付诸实践
is overcoming these practical challenges.
我们就要克服一些具体的挑战
Now while DNA is more robust than any man-made device,
虽然 DNA 比任何一个人造设备更扎实
it’s not perfect, it does have some weaknesses.
但是它并非完美 它还是有些缺点的
So we recover our message by sequencing the DNA.
所以 我们通过DNA排序来恢复信息
And everytime data is retrieved, we lose the DNA.
但每一次的读取会导致DNA的流失
That’s just part of the sequencing process.
排序过程就是这样子的
We don’t want to run out of data,
我们不希望将数据耗尽
but luckily, there’s a way to copy the DNA.
但是幸好 有一个复制DNA的方法
That’s even cheaper and easier than synthesizing it.
这个方法还比生成DNA更便宜 更简单
We actually tested a way to make 200 trillion copies of our files.
实际上 我们做了个测试 把文件复制了200万亿次
And we recovered all the data without error.
结果准确无误地恢复了所有的数据
So sequencing also introduces errors into the,
但是 排序过程会让DNA出现错误
into our DNA, into the As, Ts, Cs and Gs.
也就是说 A T C 和 G 可能会出现错误
Nature has a way to deal with this in our cells.
我们的细胞有个天生的解决方法
You know, our data is stored in synthetic DNA in a tube.
但是我们的数据是储存在瓶子里的人造DNA
So we had to find our own way to overcome this problem.
所以我们得自己想出解决方法
We decided to use an algorithm that was used to stream videos.
我们决定使用一个用来下载视频流的方法
When you are streaming a video,
当你下载视频流的时候
you’re essentially trying to recover the original video,
你其实是在试图恢复原来的视频
the original file.
也就是原来的文档
When we’re trying to recover our original files,
我们在试图恢复原来的文档时
we’re simply sequencing.
只需要进行排序即可
But really both of these processes
但实际上 这两个过程的本质
are about recovering enough 0s and 1s
一样就是把足够的 0 和 1 找回来
to put our data back together.
把数据重新拼凑起来
And so, because of our coding strategy,
所以 有了这个编码策略
we were able to package up all of our data
即使把所有的数据打包
in a way that allowed us to make millions and trillions of copies,
再进行数百万甚至数万亿次的复制
and still, always recover all of our files back.
我们也一定能够把所有的文档恢复回来
This is the movie we encoded,
这就是我们储存的电影
it’s one of the first movies ever made.
它是最早期的其中一部电影
And now the first to be copied more than 200 trillion times on DNA.
现在也是首部在DNA上复制200万亿次的电影
Soon after our work was published,
我们的研究发表后不久
we participated in an Ask Me Anything on the website Reddit.
我们参与了Reddit网站的一场“有问必答”活动
If you’re a fellow nerd you’re very familiar with this website.
如果你和我一样是书呆子 你就应该熟悉这个网站
Most questions were thoughtful, some were comical.
大部分问题是经过深思熟虑的 有些问题很好笑
For example, one user wanted to know when we would have a literal thumb drive.
比如 有位用户问道 什么时候才会真的有“拇指盘”
Now, the thing is,
重点是
our DNA already stores everything needed to make us who we are.
我们赖以存在的信息都已储存在我们的DNA
It’s a lot safer to store data on DNA, in synthetic DNA, in a tube.
用瓶子里的人造DNA储存数据安全多了
Writing and reading data from DNA is obviously
当然 就目前来看 用DNA写入和读取数据
a lot more time consuming than just saving all your files on a hard drive, for now.
比直接将所有文档储存在硬碟上更费时
So initially, we should focus on long term storage.
所以 我们在最初应该着重于长期储存
Most data are ephemeral.
大部分的数据是暂时的
It’s really hard to grasp what’s important today
我们很难现在就掌握到
or what will be important for future generations.
哪些数据对现在的人或者后代来说是重要的
But the point is we don’t have to decide today.
但重点是 我们也不必现在就决定
There’s this great program by UNESCO
联合国教科文组织有个大型的项目
called the Memory of the World program.
叫做”世界记忆计划“
It’s been created to preserve historical materials
它的创立是为了保存
that are considered a value to all of humanity.
被认为对全人类有价值的历史材料
Items are nominated to be added to the collection,
人们可以推荐将某些物品加入收藏
including that film that we encoded.
包括我们储存的那部电影
Well, a wonderful way to preserve human heritage.
用这个方法保存人类的遗产 实在太好了
It doesn’t have to be a choice.
我们不必做任何选择
Instead of asking the current generation,
不必去问现代人 也就是我们
us, what might be important in the future,
哪些数据会在未来变得重要
we could store everything in DNA.
把所有数据都储存在DNA就好了
Storage is not just about how many bytes,
储存不仅仅是用字节来衡量的
but how well we can actually store the data and recover it.
它也关系到我们储存和恢复数据的能力
There’s always been this tension between
我们产生的数据量
how much data we can generate
和我们能恢复和储存的数据量
and how much we can recover and how much we can store.
一直都存在着冲突
Every advance in writing data has required a new way to read it.
数据写入技术每进步一次 就需要读取技术进步一次
We can no longer read old media,
我们再也无法读取旧媒体的数据了
How many of you even have a disc drive in you laptop,
你们的笔记本电脑应该连光盘驱动器都没有了
nevermind of floppy drive.
更别说是软盘驱动器了
This will never be the case with DNA.
DNA 永远也不会这样
As long as we’re around, DNA is around.
只要人类存在 DNA 就会存在
And we’ll find a way to sequence it.
而我们也会找到排序DNA的方法
Archiving the world around us is part of human nature.
将周围的世界存档 就是人类的天性
This is the progress we’ve made in digital storage in 60 years.
这60年来 数字储存技术进步了那么多
At a time we were only beginning to understand DNA.
但我们却才刚开始认识DNA
Yet we’ve made similar progress
然而 DNA排序技术
in half that time with DNA sequencers.
只花了一半的时间就取得了一样的进步
And as long as we’re around,
只要人类还存在
DNA, will never be obsolete.
DNA就永远不会被淘汰
Thank you.
谢谢
[Applause]
[掌声]

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视频概述

DNA 能不能用来储存数字数据?

听录译者

PyroPigeon⁶

翻译译者

搬那度

审核员

审核员 V

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pNxJ4euUc8

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