Judging Risk Based On Genetic Testing

I was just taking a shower and had a frightening idea. With all this talk of the National ID program, and the inclusion of biometric identification into the system, I started thinking about other trends in technology that could impact it.

So the main danger, critics argue, of the National ID system is that as it becomes prolific it will get used for more and more purposes. I think this will include private industry before too long. We already send copies of drivers licenses to do credit checks, for example.

Well imagine what will happen when we understand genetics better — all the way to the point where one could have a test done and a computer could map out the person’s tendencies and weaknesses. We’ve all heard about the fat gene, a propensity for violence, being vulnerable to alcoholism, depression, etc.

Well what if that data were to be stored in people’s files? What if it were to be converted into an individual risk matrix (IRM). So on your card (and in the database) would be everything about you up until that point. Obvious things like age, race, height, weight, etc. But also things like country of origin, who your parents were. What affiliations they had (think semantic web), etc.

Now imagine this information being at the disposal of local law enforcement. They stop the Arab kid down the road and run a “query” on him. Hmm…missing school a lot. He’s been going to the local Mosque quite a bit. Oh, and he’s genetically prone to religious devotion by a margin of 2.6 deviations. And he’s walking out of a hardware store with a bunch of mechanical-looking stuff.

Or how about your insurance agency doing a “query” on you. Credit score, genetic risk factors for suicide, depression, heart disease, current health records, etc. And all this information gets run through an algorithm that decides whether you get a policy and how much you’ll be charged.

Or a local redneck at a bar late at night when the cops show up. Ok, he’s at a bar. His father died in a drunk driving accident, he’s divorced, and he has no ride home. Genetics indicate he’s likely to fight if we attempt to arrest him. Call for backup.

The scary thing is that all of these things could be used for good. Some other ideas that open up once the genetic material is easy to attain and replicate:

college admission, dating sites, ordering brides…



  1. Feb 15, 2019 — This is horribly basic for 2019, but hopefully can be seen as a bit prescient for 2007.

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