The Ubiquitous Sequencing Age

Several years ago Yaniv Ehrlich published A Vision for Ubiquitous Sequencing. We’re inching in that direction. In The Atlantic Sarah Zhang has a piece, An Abandoned Baby’s DNA Condemns His Mother, while The New York Times just came out with, Old Rape Kits Finally Got Tested. 64 Attackers Were Convicted:

Still, even with such successes, the problem of untested rape kits persists. Advocates for rape victims estimate that about 250,000 kits remain untested across the country.

Unfortunately, until recently, the ‘forensic genetics’ employed rather primitive 1990s technology. But that’s changing, though both money and expertise need to be brought to bear. Companies such as Gencove and Othram are bringing that expertise to a broader market, with the latter company focusing specifically on the forensic market.

So ubiquitous sequencing is happening. Soon. What does that mean? We need to think about privacy. We need to think about data. We need to reflect on the broader implications of this world beyond specific targeted tasks such as forensic identification.


3 thoughts on “The Ubiquitous Sequencing Age

  1. The history of privacy says people complain we should think about privacy, but ultimately don’t care. Some exceptions, but mostly true.

    If we assume the don’t care model applies to DNA data and ancestry, what happens? My guess is as long as it remains slightly hard for typical citizen to get DNA ancestry from a sample, no one cares. Life goes on. DNA ancestry becomes quasi public. This will vary by country, since in UK for example health data for DNA will all be government controlled. But for normal person end result won’t be that different day to day. And for any crime, using DNA to identify the criminal, even for smaller offenses, will be fair game.

    Often when people say “we need a conversation about x”, what they mean is they are feel queasy about x, but are not motivated enough to pay the high cost to change it.

  2. When I talk to people about the sequencing revolution, the issue that by far most people think about is “can my insurance company use this to deny me coverage”.


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