Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Is this Scientific paper on Genetic Encryption publishable?

The paper in question:
How to Protect your Genetic Assets Through Obfuscation and Encryption
In software based systems, obfuscation and encryption are techniques used to prevent reverse engineering and access to information. As society progresses towards using more Genetically Modified Organisms(GMO) and DNA sequencing becomes more inexpensive, a company’s genetic intellectual property can be reverse engineered and stolen by simply analyzing the DNA sequence. To prevent theft, techniques will need to be used that obfuscate and encrypt what changes are being made in the genome. This paper provides different methods that allow the safeguarding of years of research and development and millions or billions of dollars in monetary investments.
For the past few months I have been working on the fairly novel idea of genetic encryption. You can find a few sparse mentions of it on the internet but as we like to say in Science, to my knowledge this idea has never really been explored in depth.

I began by thinking in the context of how a company could protect a genetic asset(GMO) that is worth alot of money due to its genetic traits. I am usually on the other side, trying to break the protections but there needs to be something to break before one can break it. So I decided to try and build it.

I ended up writing a paper that runs through examples and ideas on how someone could institute Genetic Encryption and Obfuscation. Though I wouldn't consider the paper my finest work, it definitely has its merits, foremost because it is a prediction of our biological future.

Originally, my acknowledgments included:
"To everyone who is doing good Science for shit pay because someone tells you there is price for doing what you love. And to everyone who wants to fuck the system because it really needs it."

After consideration I took out the second  sentence about fucking the system because I thought maybe it was going too far. I was wrong.

I heard about bioRxiv and thought it would be a great place to submit the work as it is a free publishing server that promotes openness in Science. I knew my paper was more Biological theory and so might suffer some prejudices but I didn't know it would be this bad.  Usually these pre-print servers do not reject any papers unless they are ridiculous. My paper was rejected... The moderator said it was because the paper not experimentally based! I guess I understand that maybe bioRxiv only wants experimentally based papers but why?

Arggghh. Fuck the system, I put that line back in the paper.

Ok, well, maybe I can submit it to aRxiv another Scientific publishing server that focuses more on math and theory. I have submitted a single author paper there before and it was published without any issues. Genetic Encryption seems to fall under math and theory so it seems like a good fit. I submitted it to the Quantitative Genomics section(Genetics and Encryption seems to fit there) and thought nothing of it and then I received an email this morning that the paper was rejected.

The email:

The moderators determined that your submission was in need of significant review and revision before it would be considered publishable by a conventional journal.  Please note that arXiv moderators are not referees and provide no feedback nor detailed reviews with the removal of submissions.

WTF? What revision does the paper need? I am sure there are some small issues with it but significant revision? I guess it is partially my fault. I know some of the people in the Genomics pre-print community and they are pretty militant and dear I say stuck up assholes?

Where to next? I don't want to pay to have a Scientific paper published because that is the totally opposite point of Science but I want people to see this paper. I think it is interesting(maybe I am wrong) and I think it could spur some interesting innovations and discussions.

In the end what this all really tells me is just FUCK THE SYSTEM.

When someone can do serious Science but can't put it out there for people to see how is this system supposed to work?

Are we really doing Science anymore?