Last week, genomics entrepreneur Craig Venter announced his latest venture: a company that will create what it calls the most comprehensive and complete data set on human health to tackle diseases of aging.
Human Longevity, based in San Diego, says it will sequence some 40,000 human genomes per year to start, using Illumina’s new high-throughput sequencing machines (see “Does Illumina Have the First $1,000 Genome?”). Eventually, it plans to work its way up to 100,000 genomes per year. The company will also sequence the genomes of the body’s multitudes of microbial inhabitants, called the microbiome, and analyze the thousands of metabolites that can be found in blood and other patient samples.
This is Moore’s Law at work. Essentially, Ventner is brute-forcing this research by throwing the sort of massive computing firepower at the problem that wasn’t even imaginable thirty years ago, but is commonplace thanks to the inexorable march of Moore’s Law.
It is sometimes said that quantity becomes a quality all its own. Computing power is increasing at an exponential rate, and likely will continue to do so even beyond current hardware limits, as new methods of computing arise.
In other words, if brute force can solve these problems, then they will be solved. Relatively quickly, too.