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Raymond McCauley on Singularity 1 on 1: Be Your Own Scientist – Try It And See

Raymond McCauleyLast week I interviewed Raymond McCauley for Singularity 1 on 1.

I met Raymond last summer at Singularity University where he is the Co-Chair of Biotechnology & Bioinformatics.

McCauley is one among many former hackers and computer scientists who went into the exploding biotech industry. He has an infectious passion for bioinformatics and a fantastic radio-voice that simply disarms skepticism.

During our conversation we discuss issues such as: Raymond’s background in hacking and computer science; his move to bioinformatics and his day-job at Genomera; his involvement in Singularity University and BioCurious; biology as the growth industry of the 21st century; the faster-than-exponential growth in genomic data; personal genomics and the promise of personalized medicine; the Oxford Nanopore DNA USB sequencer; DNA sequencing for less than a penny; synthetic biology and intellectual property rights; religion, philosophy and ethics.

My favorite thought that I will take away from Raymond:

“Be your own scientist! Find the simplest idea or thing that you can test, prototype, try it and see.”

I think that this is what true science is all about — Thank you Raymond!

(As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.)


Who is Raymond McCauley?

Raymond McCauley is Chief Science Officer at Genomera, Biotechnology & Bioinformatics Co-Chair at Singularity University and Co-Founder and Chief Architect at BioCurious.

Raymond is a bioinformaticist and computer scientist working on practical nanotechnology, genomics and bioinformatics. He was previously Senior Biomformatics Scientist at Illumina – a Bay Area biotechnology company that uses next-gen sequencing technologies to build applications in areas such as miRNA, ChlP-Seq, methylation and epigenomics. Before that, as a Sr Scientific Engineer at Ingenuity Systems (pathways analysis and systems biology software) he modeled metabolic and signaling pathways and built drug and disease models. At Rapigene (acquired by OUIAGEN) he built systems to support SNP genotyping work. Raymond has also done bioinformatics consulting for pharmaceutical companies and government agencies.

McCauley did his graduate studies at Stanford (bioinformatics) and at Texas A&M University, where he received his MS in Biochemistry and Biophysics.

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  • Highly enjoyable interview, Socrates! Great that there are people like Raymond doing things like Biocurious 🙂

    Some memorable quotes:

    “Synthetic biology, in some ways, is still an promise that hasn’t been
    realized, and it’s not going to be, or it’s not going to be as quickly, if
    people are still working at this three times removed through regulatory systems
    and technological systems that don’t let you see the fruits of your labors
    fairly quickly”  “By 2020 we are going to see a marginal cost of less than a penny a human genome”

    “If regulatory efforts could match the pace of technology, we’ve got
    something wrong with our regulatory efforts. They should never be that quick.
    And you know, as a quasi-Libertarian, or say a recovering Libertarian, I really
    believe that in some instances the job of government is to stay out of the way
    and not and not do too much damage, and in other instances it’s to make sure
    that everyone is wearing their mittens and bad things aren’t happening

  • Krytek

    Awesome interview
    Thanks for bringing it to us!

  • You are most welcome friend – I am very happy you like it!

  • Great interview!

    I’ll point out though, that anti-slavery laws (in the USA) apply only to humans. This was demonstrated by a recent case filed by PETA on behalf of captive performing orcas. The judge threw out the case. This is one of many reasons non-human animal rights are crucial in an environment of accelerating bio-technology. They are a stepping-stone to sentient humanoid / chimeric rights, and sentient AI rights.

  • Thank you Cynthia! Happy you like it but I appreciate even more the great point that you made – as always! One that both bioism and speciesm will be shunned as a type of racism and all sentient beings will be free to pursue their dreams…

  • Simon Calcavecchia

    Wow, I have been watching your videos for about a year now and they keep getting better and better! This web blog is a must watch for anyone that cares about our future. It is so inspiring to listen to the people that you have interviewed. I finally signed up for your blog, thank you so much for opening my mind up to all the possibilities that are out there!

    P.S. If you could recommend me a book from one of your favorite philosophers, which one would it be?

  • Dearest friend,

    I am very happy you enjoy the interviews for I am indeed learning and working on improving them all the time.

    As far as philosophy goes I have to say I love it all but in my opinion the best start is always Plato’s Socratic dialogues. In particular – the Apology (Apologia i.e. in defense of) is considered to be the all time classic introductory piece to philosophy…

    In terms of translation I recommend John M Coopers: Plato Complete Works: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0872203492/ref=as_li_tf_til?tag=singulasympos-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=0872203492&adid=0PQRKJJD25X4XTQD0NQM
    it is an expensive book but I would keep mine forever! (You can get it cheaper on Kindle though still expensive)

  • Simon Calcavecchia

    Thank you, Socrates. I look forward to getting a copy of that book. In fact, that just made me think of an idea. I think it would be fantastic if you had a list of book recommendations on your website! It would also be awesome if you made a forum so that people could discuss the ideas in the books. Who knows what we could come up with if we work together.

    Listening to your video blogs makes me want to dedicate myself to a better future. I just posted your website on Reddit/Technology and I am hoping that you get some more attention. It really is absurd that you have less than a 1000 subscribers. However, there is no doubt in my mind that you will succeed. Please keep doing what you are doing!

    Much respect,


  • Thank you very much Simon – I really appreciate the good words and the action you took to help in spreading the word for SingularityWeblog.com – thank you!

    As per your forum idea I actually already have built one so either go up and look into the nav bar where it says “Forum” or simply go to: singularityforum.net

    Then feel free to join and post! 😉

  • By the way Simon – here is a list of Singularity Book recommendations: 

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    One of my favorite episodes. I already contacted Raymond about what he’s involved with and it may pan out to something very interesting. By the way Socrates I am “KRR” who wrote the somewhat critical response to your debate with the economist. I failed to post all the comments about how much i love the other episodes, so I am going to balance things out – in fact overbalance it with positivity. Really love your work. Please don’t give up on it. – KRR

  • Thanks very much friend, your words mean a lot to me! On the other hand – I wouldn’t deserve to a Socrates if I were not able to stir and/or take some well deserved criticism! 😉 Cheers!!!

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