Genes and messages have a long association in biology, dating back at least to Weismann. But, through most of this history, even with the dramatic concreteness that molecular biology lent to this association, the image dominating most thinking about messages was drawn from the nineteenth-century technology of the telegraph. In the mid-twentieth century, a new technology, the computer, arrived to displace the telegraph. With that displacement, the meanings of many terms—of “message,” “information,” “organization,” indeed, “organism” —have, over the past few decades, all been transformed. In this article, I explore the computer’s impact on biological representation of the organism in two disciplines: molecular biology and developmental biology.

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