Elon Musk Wants To Store Every Human’s DNA In A Database?

By Joseph Farago | Published

elon musk

Elon Musk has been in the media constantly as of late. From buying Twitter to launching as many satellites as possible, Musk has continuously pushed the envelope of his CEO duties. Now, the entrepreneur weighs in on something beyond his knowledge: DNA. Elon Musk believes that he can store every person on the planet’s DNA in a tiny storage system.

In the 2000s, sciences were hard at work on the complete human reference genome. This group of scientists, known as the Human Genome Project, attempted to assemble every possible human genetic combination, leading to more than three billion. Regarded as the greatest scientific breakthrough of the early 2000s, the project slowly became under scrutiny for its unfinished sequencing. As of 2022, millions of additional combinations have been added to the sequence. This scientific research has suddenly inspired Elon Musk, who believes you can fit all of this genetic information in a relatively small device.

Though Elon Musk has strong beliefs about genetic information storage, other experts don’t exactly agree. Senior editor of Antonio Regalado MIT Technology Review instantly rejected this idea, stating that one human genetic sequence would need over 100 gigabytes of storage. Other people pointed out the ethical standing of Musk’s desire, questioning why someone would need every person’s genetic information in one accessible hard drive? These questions and critiques are a valid way of showcasing Musk’s profound misunderstanding of genetic information and how extensive the sequences really are.

Most of the conversation around storing genetic information happened on Twitter, with Musk and his peers discussing the proposal’s rationality, usefulness, and ethics. Antonio Regalado, a biotech writer for Tech Review, responded to Elon Musk’s tweets. He stated that a possible way to get around excessive storage buildup from long DNA sequences could be to eliminate the overlapping genetic codes. Specific extended sequences that show up in other people’s DNA strands could be taken out of the system, leaving one strand with the ability to be referenced. That could save many gigabytes of storage, which entertains Musk’s idea about all human DNA being stored without taking up much space.

Elon Musk agreed with this point, tweeting that a hard drive could include a “few reference human genomes” and have the computer code the rest of the strand individually. That way, parts of DNA strands that are identical to others don’t use unnecessary storage space. Though this may be a possible venture for computers, the question remains about the ethical component of inputting all human DNA sequences into a singular drive.

Though Elon Musk set Twitter ablaze with this potentially disastrous idea of human DNA collection, the platform is used constantly by celebrities wanting to voice their innermost thoughts. There’s no actual evidence that Musk plans to do this or is currently investing in scientists to attempt the project. The Twitter thread mainly encompasses a few biotech individuals reasoning with the possibility of DNA sequencing and storage.

Elon Musk’s Twitter profile is a neverending spigot of brainstorming. Though it seems like his focus currently is on human genome storage, his priorities and business ventures have shown to change quickly.