Anonymous DNA sequencing & a new smart contract platform launches

Blockchain in healthcare updates

You Can Soon Get Your DNA Sequenced Anonymously

Nebula Genomics has made a push for “anonymous sequencing,” or “gaining all the benefits of genomic sequencing without the need to share any personal information.” You can see their recommended practices in the image above, and on top of that they offer “blockchain based secure storage,” which is using a blockchain as a way to manage access to data. Towards the end of the article they mention their on-going work on fully homomorphic encryption, or performing computations on encrypted data, which Nebula plans to roll out next year. That would allow researchers to make use of encrypted genomic data without decrypting it, a very enticing capability to have with data as sensitive as your genome. In an early issue of this newsletter we saw a proof-of-concept of this called Trustless Health. Scaling this tech and commercializing it would be an impressive feat.

After tweeting out the above Wired article out I found it interesting that several other blockchain and genomics companies were quick to add their own privacy credentials to the conversation. A handful of brands were, in real time, competing on the dimensions of trust and privacy. As privacy embeds itself further into the zeitgeist of our time this begs the question: how are you going to compete? What will your organization do to differentiate itself and establish trust with consumers?

FDA Deputy Commissioner highlights blockchain as a part of their effort to modernize food safety

The FDA also announced a parallel workshop on “A New Era of Food Safety” and invited stakeholders to participate. Details below:

Title:  A New Era of Smarter Food Safety
Date: October 21, 2019
Time: 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Location: Hilton Washington DC/Rockville Hotel, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention has launched a blockchain-based “system to save and share assessment information of health professionals, including doctors, pharmacists and technicians, with local licensing health authorities.”

The clinical supply blockchain working group led by Pfizer, Biogen, and LedgerDomain added a new member: Almac Group

What I'm reading this weekend

Long awaited Hedera Hashgraph launches a mainnet

Hashgraph has touted their network as a more scalable and enterprise friendly alternative to existing blockchains and at the height of crypto-mania they raised over $100m to build their tech out. A handful of big corporations sit on their newly formed governance council and this week they launched a mainnet. Interestingly one of the dApps that launched with Hashgraph’s mainnet is focused on healthcare.

Hashgraph’s story is a surprisingly common one. There are a lot of new smart contract platforms that raised a ridiculous amount of money coming online now and they all promise to be better than everyone else! You should have a very high bar for these new entrants before making a switch to their platforms. It is one thing to make a claim about technology and show it in a demo, but it is an entirely different task to demonstrate that in the wild. Beyond making better tech, new platforms must also attract a community of developers and create tooling necessary for adoption; thus far none have been successful. Indeed, one needs to look no further than EOS, which raised a jaw dropping $4.1 billion dollars, to see why caution and skepticism is healthy.

As for Hashgraph itself, I found this to be a well researched article on some of the technical claims made by Hedera and why they are misleading. Hedera issued a reply you can see here, to which the previous author also replied.

Halo: Recursive Proof Composition without a Trusted Setup

The Electric Coin Company (for-profit supporting Zcash) published this research on a new type of zero-knowledge proofs. It’s a cool piece of technology that lets us “compress” computation together and make it easy for someone else to verify those computations. Previously this was only possible with a “trusted setup,” which can be problematic. As I’ve written elsewhere, and you can see from the article just below this, I’m very excited by privacy preserving technologies like zero-knowledge proofs.

Thinking ‘oat’ of the box: Technology to resolve the ‘Goldilocks Data Dilemma’

Vince Kuraitis and Deven McGraw are hosting a series on the “Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma.” In short, the Goldilocks Dilemma highlights the tension between the dual goals of increasing data sharing and increasing our privacy. The series explores that tension and the possible resolutions. It’s an important topic and the series is well written.

Marielle Gross and I submitted a guest article on how technologies like blockchains, fully homomorphic encryption, and zero-knowledge proofs, can help us resolve this tension. To quote the article:

The cumulative significance of these paradigm-shifting technologies is their potential to eliminate the Goldilocks Dilemma between privacy and learning, individuals and the collective, once and for all.

Emergent Tool Use from Multi-Agent Interaction

Some stablecoin news

Libra was grilled by representatives from 26 central banks this week

Binance pitches a government friendly Libra alternative

Germany passes national blockchain policy and seeks to limit stablecoins as an alternative to state currencies

Wells Fargo looks to pilot their own dollar linked stablecoin competing with JP Morgan’s

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