The story of Genecoin is about genes and biological sciences, about doing business, and about contracts. New contracts, smart contracts on a blockchain network. You’ve probably heard about the blockchain technology and thousands of cryptocurrencies that came to life since the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. Genecoin is one of those cryptocurrencies. It’s digital programmable money. And I can tell you the story of Genecoin because I’m one of its creators.
I believe you know I’m a lawyer. You can read that on my bio, next to my name, on this page. So, I deal with the law. People need laws to make clear that everyone is obliged to do some nice things in certain situations. But to some people, specially entrepreneurs, the law has too many rules… and it has not all the necessary rules. Even worse, it has unnecessary or unwanted rules. That’s why entrepreneurs pay lawyers. If they can’t find a certain rule or its interpretation, lawyers will do it accurately. If they can’t do something because it is against the rules, lawyers will find an alternative. And if they need to enforce a rule that is not in the law, lawyers create contracts. My story about this thing called Genecoin starts with contracts.
My friend Mauro de Freitas Rebelo, who is also my client, is a biologist and researcher at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Also, he is an entrepreneur. So, he needs lots of contracts. But his restless mind wants more than contracts with new rules. He wants new kinds of contracts.
I guess he would love a contract that talks to the parties, that tells them what to do in each situation, that helps mediate any dispute. Well, my law firm can’t offer this kind of intelligent contract yet. But about more than a year ago, we talked about smart contracts. They work like software, in computers, and we were both certain that they are more than the future of contracts.
I always saw contracts as software. Contracts written on paper are a kind of software run by humans. When I examine any contract, I look for bugs, like a software developer. Smart contracts are programmable contracts, made to be run by electronic computers, not by humans. Actually, they are not really smart, and they have nothing to do with artificial intelligence. The smart thing about these contracts is: they do transactions automatically and they are self executable. Sometimes they depend on humans to do the data inputs, but not to produce the outputs. If they run in a blockchain network, once they receive the correct inputs, nobody can change these smart contracts, and nobody can stop them.
Well, I may talk like I could write software, but my coding skills are poor. Mauro is not a coder either. We knew we would need an IT guy for a multidisciplinary smart contract development.
Fabio Gouveia, another friend of ours, is a biologist whose job at Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro, is very close to informatics: he is an information scientist, and he has some valuable IT skills. Besides, the entries about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in his encyclopedic mind would soon become an important asset in our informal start-up.
Mauro, Fabio and I use to meet regularly to drink some beers. We talk a lot about blockchain technology and smart contracts. As a result, we have elaborated some interesting ideas on how to use smart contracts to speed up scientific research.
As an information scientist, Fabio Gouveia is the perfect guy to design smart contracts that can select automatically young scientists qualified to participate in our marketplace. Oh, I had not mentioned the marketplace yet! We will use Genecoins to make transactions in a marketplace for scientific products and services. And this marketplace won’t be part of a company, or a service provided by a legal person. No! This marketplace should work in an automatic, autonomous, distributed way. No owners, no managers, no sellers. The only humans to operate this marketplace are its users, clients and suppliers.
This kind of marketplace is possible because of blockchain technology and smart contracts. Let me explain. Generally, when smart contracts run in a blockchain network, they are immutable. So, when we know what a certain smart contract does in a blockchain network, when we understand its code, we can be sure that for a given input, the contract will provide a certain output. And it doesn’t matter who are the parties or who made the contract, as well as it doesn’t matter who is Satoshi Nakamoto, the name associated to the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. Everybody can trust a smart contract whose code promises to deliver something, like everybody can trust transactions with Bitcoins, knowing that there will never be a Bitcoin falsification.
We can trust smart contracts because of the ingenious blockchain technology behind them. Once we trust a smart contract, there’s no need to trust the human parties that participate in those contracts. One cannot cheat when dealing through a smart contract. And that is the ultimate beauty of cryptocurrency transactions in smart contracts.
Well, as I told you, the story of Genecoin, our cryptocurrency for the bioeconomy, was about contracts. Now you can see, it’s true! Because Genecoin transactions will happen in a marketplace that is nothing more than a bunch of smart contracts.
But you may think… why Genecoin? Why not US dollars, Brazilian reals, Chinese yuans? Why not Bitcoins or Ether, the most popular cryptocurrencies? Wouldn’t they do the same? No, not really.
When we created Genecoin, we didn’t have in mind Bitcoin 2, the sequel. Absolutely not! We are all biologists*. We don’t think about Genecoin as pure and simple money. When creating Genecoin, we designed a whole ecosystem where Genecoins would come to life, into an autonomous and distributed business model.
To do that, we thought, the three of us were not enough. We needed someone with the skills to design that unusual business model. With the vision of a young scientist and the energy to turn ideas into action. This person was Barbara Schorchit, a student of chemical engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She is a champion. Literally. She won the hackathon at PUC-Rio for designing a mobile app to facilitate solutions to legal disputes through mediation. Also, she is a two time swimming champion in Brazil. Nobody achieves that much, beeing so young, without lots of discipline, intelligence and working capacity. So she became a partner and our forth valuable asset.
Curious? Know more about Genecoins at http://genecoin.science
See you soon. Stay tuned!
*I said I’m a lawyer, now I say that we are all biologists. You may conclude: I’m a lawyer and a biologist. That’s right. I graduated twice at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. First, Biological Sciences, and some years later, Law School.
Mauro, Bernardo and Fabio, at a coffe shop in Rio de Janeiro, at the moment of creation of the 100,000,000 Genecoins, using an ICO launching platform from Estonia, on the internet.
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**This text was originally published at https://medium.com/@bernardoagmonte/let-me-tell-you-the-story-of-genecoin-ffe03c23104b on January 27th, 2018.