EDNA is certainly one of the most fascinating and far reaching projects on EOS. Their goal is basically putting your DNA on chain. The big promise of founder Greg Simpson is a double one: for one giving you control over- and secure storage of your DNA, and second make the genome data available for research, sharing the income with you (and not some lab or corporation).
EDNA has gotten a lot of attention via the airdrop, but since then it has become a bit quiet about them, so i believe it’s time to shed some further light on this fascinating project, that isn’t about some intrinsic EOS infrastucture but aims for real life use.
I am not going to talk about the airdrop, edna tokenomics or any other analysis about the coin, because there’s a lot of stuff on that around already.
And @Matthaynes923 has done two excellent interviews with founder Greg, that get you the broader picture of EDNA:
I’ve missed out on properly making note of on epic tagline from a commentator (might have been Ivan on Tech or Chris Coney) who ranted about crypto bloggers, who tend to have a certain grammar deficiency, having them always speak in the present tense, as if a project was already up and running, when in reality all that was available is one cobbled together white paper… 😉
So what i’d like to is to do, is look behind the idealistic narrative and analyse how EDNA, the brillant idea it is, can ramp up its operations and attract users. Imo there are three critical factors that need to be covered for this project to actually get up and running. The brand new websites now provides a lot of new information about how this is going to be possible
And then there is this awesome Telegram channel, where Greg seems to be around any time of the day or night to provide you with in-depth info about his project. This is how communication has to be like!
So imo these are the most critical entry barriers for users:
- Costs for DNA sequencing
- Privacy needs to be ensured
- Security of DNA on-chain
- Critical database size to generate revenue
1. Costs for DNA sequencing
Apart from security, practicality is certainly the most critical factor for adoption. With EDNA, other than needing to understand key pairs, spending a buck to create an EOS account, or investing your freshly transferred eos on some critter game props, EDNA will require you not only to send over your DNA sample, but to cover the costs for the whole procedure.
So lets start with the costs, currently sequencing one human genome costs around 1000$, which is actually cheap, since it cost millions of dollars just a few years ago. Greg assumes with new equipment becoming available early next year, those costs could be down to as low as 100$ already. So whereas 1000$ would still mean a significant investment, a tenth of that is a price, that – at least in the western world – one can spend to trying out something, if one is enthusiastic (or believes in the returns to be generated from the data).
Still what is left for them, is to finance the equipment, which might be done via crowdfunding approach. This is what the equipment looks like:
2. Privacy needs to be ensured
So the technology, if not available, at least is around the corner and makes the entry barrier low enough to at least check it out. Currently the EDNA Lab is in Greg’s basement, so in order to have your DNA sequenced, you need to get the samples there, which poses two problems: You need to get hold of the collection kit, the EDNA lab will need to use for sequencing.
The issue is, to retain your privacy, no lab staff or Greg should be able to associate your full name, address, with your DNA and eventually your blockchain identity. Whereas on the page linked, they talk about those kits being available via amazon (who hopefully aren’t able to do the match on their own to soon), the last info i got from Greg, was they have found a kit available over the counter, which you can purchase with cash, thus anonymously. All you then need to do is stick your public key on the kit and send it over to EDNA. (without your sender address of course).
Problem solved! (I hope the over the counter option is available internationally).
3. Security of DNA on chain
Once a genome is sequenced (actually only the chromosome pairs deviating from a standard genome “GRCh38” are stored, reducing the amount of data to 3% of a full genome), it is encrypted with your public key provided, and then tumbled, a process similar to how Monero and Z-Cash work, mixing up your information with that of other users, delivering the highest security and anonymisation possible today. Having said this, even Fluffy Pony himself has asserted, this encryption might be crackable via AI etc in the foreseeable future. So whereas EDNA provides state-of-the-art encryption, it’s certainly worth to consider the risks involved.
4. Critical database size to generate revenue
So we’ve seen the barriers for users might be low enough, the security and privacy sufficiently assured, the other major promise of EDNA is to monetize your data for research and provide you with an incentive to become part of the community, as the mere control of data isn’t incentive enough for our notoriously facebook-using species.
Of course a database for research needs to have a critical size of genomes in order to be properly analysed. Much to my surprise, Greg asserted, that many studies have been based on only several hundreds samples, which actually isn’t that much. EDNA has set their bar for launching the online database to 5000 genomes, which for one should be enough for it to become relevant to research institutes and secondly is also needed to ensure a secure tumbling (see above).
Much to my surprise, there is already an EDNA reservation list in place (you need send 1 EDNA to ednaseqqueue, to be registered), which currently counts 1352 EDNA in the reservation line. So it might not be the 5000 required and 1 edna is not that much as a proof of intention (remember those folks who are attending every Facebook event invitation?) it’s still a significant number!
As you can see, we are certainly not in present tense mode yet. What convinces me, is that all critical bits and pieces are all there, and well thought of, and i can imagine, that this project will have significant adoption.
I will definitely keep an eye on EDNA, and follow this project closely.