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High-Tech Biology

In a recent column on education, The New York Times' Paul Krugman said that many jobs for recent college grads are being rendered "obsolete" by advances in technology. For scientists, adds Mike the Mad Biologist, this is nothing new. "At a recent celebration type-of-thing, a colleague explained how a Prominent Genomic Researcher realized that the next leap forward in biology was going to happen when biologists would view their science as an information science," he says. "The future was not going to involve benches filled with dozens of Ph.D.s furiously pipetting." There are many informatics problems for researchers to solve, Mike says, due to the sheer amount of data being generated by sequencers that are getting faster and cheaper. Automation will probably be the "next great leap forward," though it won't happen for at least five or 10 years — machines can do tedious jobs reliably, quickly, and without giving in to boredom, which would allow for data production to be done much more quickly and would decrease the need for grad students and postdocs as "cheap labor," he adds. Then, postdocs could concentrate their training on better analysis and less on technique, which could increase their prospects for good jobs.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.