From pixelated apes to Donald Trump trading cards, there’s no shortage of ideas in the world of Web3. At NFT.NYC, this force of creativity was on full display—for better or worse.
Here are some of the most eyebrow-raising projects Fortune saw this week at the Javits Center in Hudson Yards.
Your DNA is now on the blockchain
Photograph by Ben Weiss for Fortune
On the conference’s showroom floor, Daniel Uribe, cofounder and CEO of GenoBank.io, pitched to passersby what he sees as a necessary corrective to the health care industry: a DNA test kit whose results reside on the blockchain.
Standing behind a white table with a test kit prominently displayed, Uribe told Fortune that his startup, founded in 2018, first offered researchers and laboratories a method to verify the authenticity of tests through registering results as NFTs. (GenoBank.io also, somewhat surprisingly, says it verifies the origin of coffee beans.)
Now, with the rise of A.I., the company’s pivoted. Any customer can send GenoBank.io a test swab, and the company stores a reference to the user’s DNA on a public ledger. From there, customers can query ChatGPT about their genomes, Uribe said. If, for example, people are worried about their propensity for Type 2 diabetes, they can ask ChatGPT for help.
“What it does very well is that it can help you to create a list of relevant regions in your DNA that are specifically related to a certain disease,” Uribe told Fortune. GenoBank.io will then search through peoples’ DNA and return how likely they are to develop, say, Alzheimer’s or another disease with previously established genetic links. “You are the owner of the data, and you can print your records if you want to,” he said. “Or you can just delete the session in your web browser.”
And his startup gives people the opportunity to license their test results—including their genetic code—as they see fit.
“I am not incentivizing people to sell their data,” he told Fortune. “But, obviously, they could do it. It’s Web3—everybody can do whatever they want.”
Saving bees with NFTs
Photograph by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez for Fortune
Brooklynn Bailey, aka BrookBee, is 14 years old and hungry to make a difference. And her tool of choice is NFTs.
The high schooler from just outside Los Angeles is the creator of the Bee Better collection, a series of digital collectibles that donates 50% of each sale toward saving bees. The donations go to The Bee Girl Organization (BGO), a nonprofit focused on bee habitat conservation.
She’s already done pretty well. Her first non-fungible token, a one-of-one called the Queen Bee NFT sold for $3,000.
When she was deciding what cause she wanted to focus on, she chose bees because of how important they are to pollination—and how threatened they are.
“I love animals, and I thought I can help them in a way through the digital world. I don’t see a lot of people doing that,” she said.
With the support of her mom, Desiree Shank, Bailey has also started a course that people can buy to learn how they can make their own NFTs and start a digital business.
Bailey’s bee-themed NFTs are available on OpenSea for 0.2 Ether. Her worker bee NFTs feature thrifty insects, some wearing hats or glasses, holding a cup of coffee with one of their six legs.
Bailey created some of the first art for her NFTs on the 5.42-inch screen of her iPhone 12 mini, using a free app. Later she upgraded to an iPad and Apple Pencil to do her work, but she said starting with no professional tools or software hopefully encourages other kids who want to do the same.
“It’s never too early or too late to start your NFT journey,” she told Fortune.
A bookful of NFTs
Photograph by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez for Fortune
While the book industry, understandably, isn’t known for its innovation, some independent writers are trying to change that.
After years of working with traditional publishers, including Simon & Schuster, author Rionna Morgan turned to NFTs as the newest medium for her writing.
The traditional publishing world is full of restrictions, but NFTs offered her more creative opportunities. For her most recent work, The Seven Love Stories, Morgan teamed up with four illustrators who designed art to accompany her writing. Each illustrator gets 25% of the sale for each of the books he or she worked on.
“I have literally never had so much fun,” she told Fortune.
And because the seven stories are packaged as NFTs, the illustrators automatically get a percentage of every sale indefinitely, without Morgan having to send out individual checks.
Scarcity is another way that NFTs are helping writers. During a talk titled “Books and the blockchain,” Web3 writer Greg Younger said NFTs can bring back the idea of first editions for books. (For Morgan’s project, only 1,111 versions of each story can be minted, for a total of 7,777 versions across all seven works.)
While first editions of famous books like The Great Gatsby can sell for hundreds—or sometimes thousands—of dollars, the same can’t be said for the first releases of e-books. With NFTs, Younger posits, first editions of books can be released, sold, and later verified as authentic: “All of these fantastic authors have written books, and there’s a minimum amount that you can collect today, and once those are collected, there’s not going to be another version one. Those become collectors items.”
All of these ideas have culminated in a new category: Write3.