EU's blockchain sandbox, more on platforms, and personalized nutiriton

Also: token models and whether Einstein could get published today.

Hey everyone,

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On to this week’s newsletter.

This week’s edition

The EU is planning a regulatory sandbox for blockchain technology

The relevant text from this press release:

A sandbox is a facility that brings together regulators, companies, and tech experts to test innovative solutions and identify obstacles that arise in deploying them. The European Blockchain Partnership is planning a pan-European regulatory sandbox in cooperation with the European Commission for use cases in the EBSI and outside of EBSI, including for data portability, B2B data spaces, smart contracts, and digital identity (Self-Sovereign Identity) in the health, environment, mobility, energy and other key sectors. The sandbox is expected to become operational in 2021/22.

Beyond bringing together stakeholders sandboxes generally have relaxed regulatory requirements for those building in the sandbox. I see this as a good way for regulators and builders to test their solutions and build up knowledge. Note that healthcare is explicitly called out as an area of interest.

HIBCC Announces HIN Data integration within the MediLedger Network

HIBCC, or the Health Industry Business Communications Council, announced the integration of their “Health Industry Number System,” or HIN, with the MediLedger Network. The HIN gives unique identifiers to parties in the pharma industry, and these identifiers help business partners interact with each other. In turn this will improve the efficiency of MediLedger products, like their Contracts and Chargeback Solution.

Perhaps more importantly, and as I’ve noted before, MediLedger is increasingly positioning themselves as a platform for others to build on. By integrating HIN data the MediLedger network now has a stronger identity layer that other teams can use to solve other problems too. Susanne Somerville, CEO of Chronicled, made this point explicitly: “Incorporating HIN data into the MediLedger Network is an incredible example of the value MediLedger can offer as a platform. Future solutions can now be developed with HIN data already established as a key building block.

Chronicled faces a difficult task in getting adoption for their platform. Almost everyone that is building blockchain solutions for problems in pharma supply chains also wants to be a platform. Chronicled will need to convince them that it makes more sense to abandon that ambition and build on their network. But, the fact that Chronicled both creates a platform and solutions on-top of that platform complicates their pitch. Others may worry about the long term viability of building on a platform whose creator may build competing solutions. This is the crux of the problem I described in Neutral platforms in healthcare. One solution would be to open source their platform technology and decentralize governance of that.

Personalized nutrition

I’ve long been confused by, and skeptical of, nutritional advice. I clearly remember that as a child I was told by my teachers to eat a lot of carbs and eschew fats. I also remember being shown the food pyramid with its myriad of flaws, and having the benefits of diet soda espoused to me. Yikes.

Over the years I learned enough to know that the advice that I was given before was probably not true, and that gave me a dose of skepticism towards the entire field. Compounding this has been the plethora of competing diets (keto, vegetarian, carnivore, Mediterranean, etc) that each claimed to be backed with contradictory studies. For years I have wondered how I was supposed to make sense of and navigate this space. So needless to say I have been excited to find what I believe is a two part path forward.

The first part is a recognition of the vast variability in how different people respond to the same foods. The chart above, pulled from a seminal study, demonstrates this very clearly. For participant 644 a cookie shot up their blood glucose levels (as expected, but this is not desirable) while the banana had a muted sinking effect. However for participant 445 the same foods had the opposite effect! Not only did the cookie barely affect 445, the banana spiked their blood glucose levels. This same phenomenon - of the same food affecting people differently - can be observed across many different foods and directly contradicts the idea of a “single diet working for everyone.”

Given this context, the second part of my path forward is to use data to get an objective measure of how my body responds to different foods. I’m excited to have gotten early access to Level’s continuous glucose monitor for this reason. I can avoid any “one size fits all” model and find foods that optimize my metabolic health based on my personal data. You can see above how burgers made of ingredients from Blue Apron yielded a much different response for me than burgers made from ingredients from my local grocery store.

I’m about two weeks into wearing a CGM and have found the results powerful! I’ll write up a debrief in a few weeks to share insights.

Placeholder VC: Stop Burning Tokens – Buyback And Make Instead

A good blog post from Joel Monegro on why “buyback and burn” should be “buyback and make” instead. The details are too lengthy to summarize here, but those interested in tokens and cryptoeconomics should read it to get a sense of what current thinking is.

Having participated in a few of these DAOs it does feel like something tangible and special is happening. There are now several DAOs that govern decentralized finance protocols worth a few hundred million or even a billion dollars. All of these provide valuable services, a few of these generate real cash flows in the millions for their owners, and all of them have ecosystems of actors coordinated by aligned incentives.

The speed at which these protocols are changing is blistering and bottom-up community made proposals by random individuals worldwide are not uncommon. It is exciting, and frankly fun, to watch this all happen. Moreover, the many experiments being run in the decentralized finance space today will help launch community governed infrastructure in other domains in the future.

Could Einstein Get Published Today?

Perhaps not. It is hard not to cringe thinking of all the lost creativity that would instead be spent on bureaucratic barriers and dealing with contemporary professional norms. Of course bureaucracy and norms serve a purpose - to rationalize and scale systems - but it should give us pause that scientific paragons of the past would’ve been hampered by the institutions of today.

This weekend’s musings

Books I’m reading:

  • Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don't Have To - In this book David Sinclair explains his theory that the hallmarks of aging are caused by changes to the epigenome. Naturally the discussion also turns to how we might halt these changes.

Podcasts I’m listening to:

  • A Tale of Sushi(Swap) - Drama, millions of dollars of money taken and then given back, intrigue, conspiracies, innovation, and more! The story of SushiSwap has it all.

  • The Biology of Aging - a16z is launching a new podcast series called “Bio Eats World” and their inaugural podcast was on the exciting state of aging research.

  • Digital Salon with Bruno Maçães: The Future Is in a New America - Bruno Maçães’ book has a thought provoking hypothesis: that Americans are obsessed with entertainment, so much so that they believe the stories that they craft. I read his book a few months ago and have been mulling it over ever since.

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