Tuesday, June 26, 2007

(Very) personalized medicine (everything)

You have to love their tagline at the top of their website,

don't panic, we're here to help

So, do you trust Google/23andMe to find and hold all of your genetic secrets? I'd trust them a lot more than Joe Shmoe in I.T... Seriously, if you are afraid Google is setting up some secret clone army bent on world domination, your genetic information really isn't going to help them much anyway. The truth is, they don't really have any incentive to do anything malicious with your personal information. Their famous moniker "don't be evil" isn't just could p.r., its good business - and thats why I actually do trust them. Not too mention that if anyone could actually keep your information safe from those that would do evil with it (perhaps certain governments..) they are about the only group in the world that might stand a chance.

I absolutely can not wait until I can have my whole genome sequenced and can start playing with it. I want to see specifically what differences exist between me and my sister, my cat, my dog, and my plant. I want to know what pills I should take when, if I should be getting tested sooner for prostate cancer, and whether I am more closely related to Socrates or to Gandhi. I want to go to a party and play the 4th cousin game.. who in the room is my closest relative? I want a t-shirt with the damn thing on it!

Never fear knowledge.


Unknown said...

I like your attitude--never fear knowledge--and I basically agree with it, provided you keep an open mind on what you find. There is no holy grail, just pieces of the puzzle that is your life.
One comment on evil-information-grabbers. One group I do fear is the insurers of the world. They will find any reason to deny claims or rack up premiums. Their lives and profits depend on their ability to bring in more than they pay out. What are your thoughts on visible genomes (or health info in general) and insurers?

Benjamin Good said...

Hi Sheryl, Thanks for your comment!

I'm certainly no expert in this domain and probably should be more concerned and less trusting then I am by nature.. But, since you asked, in the long run I don't think that its really going to be feasible to effectively hide this information from people that really want to find it, like insurance companies. I suggest that the evil-insurance company fear is something that needs to be addressed at the level of law rather than at the level of information control. I think it should be up the individual as much as possible.. to decide who gets to see their information but that there should be protection against discrimination built into the system.

It comes down to a pretty fundamental question about how we want our society to run. Do we want personal healthcare availability determined by a capital market or by a non-financial value system or by some combination of both?

I don't really know what would actually work the best of course.. what do you think?