The Internet brought us: Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Alibaba, PayPal, Salesforce, and many more. The mobile internet brought us Uber, Venmo, Instagram, etc. What will the Internet of DNA bring us?
Although not directly in the line of succession, the Internet of DNA is going to be a major offshoot development from the Internet. What companies will build fortunes on the Internet of DNA?
Internet of DNA
Instead of connecting information, people, or services, the Internet of DNA connects genetic information. 23andMe and Ancestry, they’re the AOL equivalent on the Internet of DNA. They’re the ones bringing everyone “online”.
The obvious, early benefit of an Internet of DNA is what’s called genetic matchmaking. Essentially, this is the concept that specific sequences of DNA that cause disease, illness, etc. are common among other patients suffering from the same problem. This would allow doctors to learn from the practices of others before.
For instance, this could be invaluable for cancer treatment. Tumors are the result of genetic mutations. Doctors that can match similar mutations to previous cancer patients, effectively unlock insight into a smoother treatment – what medication worked, for what period of time, etc. Similarly, this could be the key to solving rare diseases that affect less than a thousand people worldwide.Will You Surf the Internet of DNA
Both the Matchmaker Exchange and WuXi NextCODE are using genome info for these health purposes. At a consumer level, we’ve heard stories of the Internet of DNA solving murder cases and bringing together (or breaking apart) relatives. But this is such a small sliver of the capabilities.
If the Internet stopped at information-transfer, then we’d basically have Wikipedia, personal blogs, and Google. That’s it. Obviously the Internet didn’t stop there and neither will the Internet of DNA.
Internet of DNA Companies
Everything from our body type to our personalities to the health of our relationships is a result of Nature and Nurture, right? Nature (our genome) predisposes us to a certain type of life and Nurture (our environment) molds our actions.
At a general level, we all believe there are secrets to our life and secrets to a better life encoded in our DNA. It’s this belief that will make Internet of DNA companies thrive.
DNA Dating Company
For all those who go on date after date with no luck in finding a connection, that’s because you’ve been dating people that are genetically unfit for you. Or, at least that’s what a DNA Dating Company will tell you.
DNA Dating Companies will pair people up on dates that are “genetically guaranteed” to have chemistry. Here’s a free tag-line for anyone out there thinking of building one of these companies:
Find chemistry, based on biology
In all seriousness, there is one company working on DNA-based Matchmaking already. The company is called Digid8 and it was started by a genetics professor at Harvard named George Church.
The main reasoning behind Digid8 isn’t to help people find love, rather to make sure you don’t find the wrong love. In other words, it’s a service that will help wipe out inherited diseases.
The idea is to use DNA comparisons to make sure people who share a genetic mutation, like those that cause Tay-Sachs disease or cystic fibrosis, never meet, fall in love, and have kids.Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review
The Twitter reaction has been to call Digid8 eugenics – or, improving the human population through controlled breeding. Nothing has really materialized out of Digid8 yet. And I can imagine their journey to success will be very rocky. Just as it will be for any other DNA Dating Company. The cultural apprehension is going to be very strong.
DNA Nutrition Company
At the complete opposite end of the cultural acceptance is going to be DNA Nutrition Companies. These companies will use your genetic information to guide your eating habits and workout regimens for optimal results.
Naturally, there are already a few companies positioning themselves in this area. The DNA Diet Plan allows people to upload their genome from 23andMe or Ancestry. Habit is working on this as well. And so is GenoPlate.
I see these companies, under the right marketing plan, absolutely flourishing. Whether or not the service is effective is an entirely different (but fair) debate. The consensus has yet to be reached as to whether Nutritional Genomics is far along enough to be an effective science.
DNA Advertising Company
What if geneticists find a link between the effectiveness of certain types of advertisements and your genetics? Is there a possibility that the Internet of DNA will bring a biological component to consumerism and capitalism?
This sounds like the plot for a sci-fi movie.
I think a DNA-based advertising company takes this futuristic position along with a few other ideas: DNA-based Job Placement, DNA-based Social Network, DNA Entertainment Company, and DNA-based Education Company.
All of these could one day exist on the Internet of DNA. Right here, right now, it’s hard to even make an accurate prediction. The Internet of DNA is barely in its infancy. Comprehending how this innovation will unfold is nearly impossible.
What we do know, though, is that today you have the choice whether or not you want to sign up for “dial-up DNA Internet”. You can decide whether you want to participate by getting a DNA test done.
But at what point is participation no longer a choice and becomes a necessity. Who can live without the Internet today? Almost no one. Will the same fate hold true for the Internet of DNA?