What if sperm were uploaded — or perhaps, erm, unloaded — onto the Bitcoin network, and those seeking to become pregnant could turn the emotional, complex task into something more approachable, where they choose the right swimmers on the blockchain according to attributes like education level, hobbies, and physical attributes?
Wei Escala is the founder and CEO of Eggschain, an Austin-based startup building a supply chain solution for the assisted reproduction industry. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of implanting a fertilized egg into a woman’s uterus in order to induce pregnancy. This requires sperm, which is sometimes contributed by a partner and sometimes by a donor.
Eggschain’s blockchain is secured by Bitcoin via Stacks, a Y Combinator-incubated startup “building a user-owned Internet secured by Bitcoin.” In practice, this means that Stacks operationalizes smart contracts and DApps, such as Eggschain, by synching up with Bitcoin on every 10-minute block to embed an indelible, permanent record.
While lower transaction fees influenced the choice to build on a Bitcoin sidechain instead of other chains like Ethereum, Bitcoin’s reputation as an incorruptible ledger was decisive. Bitcoin “will be around for hundreds or thousands or millions of years,” Escala says as if stating a basic scientific fact. While speaking of millions of years can be written off as overzealous marketing, choosing a chain to track reproduction means backing the one most likely to survive far into the future.
“Bitcoin is the oldest blockchain in the world and very established, and the gas fees on Stacks are low compared to some of the other leading blockchains by a huge magnitude.”
Escala explains that “When your sperm is donated, that is a transaction that gets hashed onto the blockchain,” complete with an indelible time stamp. Further transactions take place “when the sperm is implanted into a woman or into an egg.” The time between egg fertilization and implantation can stretch for years, and sperm has been kept frozen for as long as 22 years and still been used successfully.