The Dawning of the Age of Biology


Some people whose names you may know or computers you may have used all had dinner together last week.

Photo above: Apocalyptic shit-disturber John Cusack eats the final grape at the namedrop alpha table, drawing heated commentary from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who sources say did not get a single grape.

(L-R, for reals, EDGE 2010 dinner: Jared Cohen, US State Department; Dave Morin, Facebook; John Cusack, actor/writer/director/thinker; Dean Kamen, Inventor, Deka Research; Bill Gates, Microsoft, Gates Foundation; Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post; Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine. Not shown in this photo, but huddled around the same table, were Peter Diamandis, George Church, and me. )

Here's the photo gallery for this dinner, hosted by John Brockman and EDGE to herald "the Dawing of the Age of Biology." Let the jpeg record show that I managed to get up close and personal with Marissa Mayer and Nathan Wolfe, then later with Danny Hillis.

More about the big ideas discussed, after the jump.

John Brockman, in presenting the theme for this 2010 edition of the annual EDGE dinner, wrote:

In the summer of 2009, in a talk at the Bristol (UK) Festival of Ideas, physicist Freeman Dyson articulated a vision for the future. He referenced The Age Of Wonder, by Richard Holmes, in which the first Romantic Age described by Holmes was centered on chemistry and poetry, while Dyson pointed out that this new age is dominated by computational biology. Its leaders, he noted, include "biology wizards" Kary Mullis, Craig Venter, medical engineer Dean Kamen; and "computer wizards" Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Charles Simonyi. He pointed out that the nexus for this intellectual activity — the Lunar Society for the 21st century — is centered around the activities of Edge.

All the scientists mentioned above by Dyson (with the exception of Simonyi) were present at the dinner. Others guests who are playing "a significant role in this new age of wonder through their scientific research, enlightened philanthropy, and entrepreneurial initiative" included Larry Brilliant, George Church, Bill Gates, Danny Hillis, Nathan Myhrvold, Jeff Skoll, and Nathan Wolfe.

EDGE: "The Edge Dinner: A New Age of Wonder, Where the Dawning of the Age of Biology Was Officially Announced." (Thank you, John Brockman /