Your genome will be public

dna.jpgThe QS blog, as is obvious to anybody who glances at it, is hosted on kk.org, the web site of my friend and QS Show&Tell co-host Kevin Kelly. Here is a link to Kevin’s recent post on the inevitable public status of all individual human genomes. It is a counterintuitive idea, persuasively argued.

Kevin focuses on the health benefits that will stem from a new understanding of individual DNA as a public aspect of the self. It is interesting to think about some of the unintended consequences of having complete genomes easily accessible. Kevin mentions paternity cases; by extension you can start speculating about any civil case that involves a question of whether two people met at a certain place, or travelled together in a certain vehicle, or tapped on a certain computer where they may have dropped a hair or left a soiled cup. Criminal cases, ditto. But we can also think further afield. I’m impressed by Eliezer Yudkowsky’s invitation to explore possibility space of new developments by means of the concept of weirdtopia – not utopian or dystopian visions, where these are conditioned by our current values, but visions that strike us as utterly abnormal because they involve new inventions coupled with new values. What are the weirdtopian implications of public DNA?

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