Chances are, the most radical innovations in the 21st century won't be built on silicon but on DNA. Over the past few years, the ease of crafting genes from scratch has gone way up, while the cost has gone way down.
But while the curve of biology's version of Moore's law bends upward, major obstacles remain to the kind of startup explosion ignited in personal computing by better, cheaper digital technology. And the difference comes down to this: everything in Steve Jobs' garage was basically dry. Unlike other kinds of engineering, the essential materials of biotech are both wet and alive. And this makes working with them much more complicated than pulling out a laptop or a soldering iron.
An effort is under way, however, to make working with wet stuff easier in the hope of putting biology on more equal footing with less viscous technologies. And one of the tools that has biohackers buzzing at the moment is the OpenTrons, an open-source liquid-handling robot designed to make biotech not just drier and faster but also a lot more accessible to anyone with an idea.