Last Thursday I was running around Cambridge with an MIT Media Lab grad student. He has figured out a way to accelerate drug testing throughput, which could dramatically reduce the cost of drug development. Very cool stuff.
The conversation got pretty fun. We got off topic. At one point we spent a while on a Knapsacking / Traveling salesperson linear optimization problem he had spent 19 hours coding. I remember doing something similar as a new engineer at McDonnell Douglas, in a SCIF working in FORTRAN on a Vax.
Oh, the memories of a simpler time. Coding in Fortran.
He asked: “Do you want to go play with some biohackers.” I get this image in my head of 19-year-olds using Arduino boards to hack genes.
So I said: “What are they biohacking?”
They are using CRISPR to make goldfish glow.
The day before our ventures team met with a company that’s creating DNA. Not editing DNA, but actually creating DNA. Why worry about genetically modified organisms (GMO) when you can create your own genes.
Once you create DNA, you can create organisms. You can also use it for data storage. You can encode data into a DNA sequence at an incredible density. It never goes bad. Gigawatts of power for spinning disks and memory, no longer needed. Just use DNA and a cheap nanopore detector.
As recently as 2001, it cost $2.5 billion to sequence the whole genome. Now you can do it for $1,000. Soon it’ll be a penny.
Once it gets to that point, it will be ubiquitous. Perpetual health tests at nearly no cost. Go to the bathroom and the toilet will sequence your genes.
Radical innovation. Exponential growth. The future is bright.
The debt held by the public continues to climb. Soon it will be 80% of GDP. It will only go up from there. Alzheimer’s, age-related diseases, cancer, heart disease and diabetes costs just go up. Everything just goes up.
But innovation is deflationary.
We are entering a period of exponential possibility. Gen Z, the 19-year-olds I met at MIT, have new rules. The FAA regulates aviation, while Gen Z wants free roaming UAVs. The FDA wants Phase 3 trials, while Gen Z wants to print their drugs at home on a 3D printer.
The switch is about to flip. In 20, 10, or maybe even 5 years, the disruption of Gen Z and its freewheeling nature will hit and force all of us old people who live off debt and love our regulations to adapt. Economic pressure will burst the dam. BigCo rent seeking will fall to the power of innovation.
And all the costs that are today going up will start to go down.
Want to kill cancer? It will cost $100.
Want to get an education? Go to YouTube and get a degree. Cost: $0.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat of Roe v. Wade, but over CRISPR. The right for someone to edit their own genes. Is it so far fetched? We’re reaching a point in time where entrepreneurs with new technology seek to control their own bodies to cure disease.
What would that look like?
Would we need doctors? Nurses? Phase 3 trials? Phase 2 trials?
Amazon was a cutting-edge online bookstore in 1996. Now it is putting major retailers out of business. That disruption took less than 30 years.
Technology often fails to live up to the hype in the near term, but exceeds all expectations in the long term.
Our debt will continue to increase until we flip the switch. There are more than enough entrepreneurs today that can make it happen. I meet them every day. I invest in them before they surprise you.
The future is glowing.