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posted by martyb on Wednesday January 22 2020, @03:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the 60%-likely-is-40%-unlikely dept.


How similar do you think you are to your second cousin? Or your estranged great aunt?

Would you like to have people assess your behaviour from what your great aunt has done? How would you feel if courts used data gained from them to decide how you are likely to behave in the future?

Scientists are making connections between a person's DNA and their tendencies for certain kinds of behaviour. At the same time, commercial DNA databases are becoming more common and police are gaining access to them.

When these trends combine, genetic data inferred about offenders from their relatives might one day be used by courts to determine sentences. In the future, the data from your great aunt could be used by a court to determine how severely you are punished for a crime.

[...] A Florida judge recently approved a warrant to search a genetic genealogy , GED Match. This American company has approximately 1.3 million users who have uploaded their personal genetic data, with the assumption of privacy, in the hope of discovering their family tree.

The court directly overruled these users' request for privacy and now the company is obliged to hand over the data.

[...] This might be used by the prosecution to make the case for a longer sentence. In some jurisdictions and circumstances, the prosecution may have a means of obtaining a sample of DNA directly from the offender. But where this is not legally possible without the offender's consent, the inference from relatives might fill a gap in the prosecution's case about how dangerous the offender is.

Your ability to be granted bail may hinge on your genes.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by NateMich on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:31PM (1 child)

    by NateMich (6662) on Wednesday January 22 2020, @04:31PM (#946870)

    What if when you look at repeat violent offenders, let's say 80% of them share a certain genetic characteristic

    Hmm, interesting question. What if that certain genetic characteristic is that they are black? Just for example.

    How well do you suppose that will go over?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:02AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:02AM (#947267)

    Something that's important is to of course ensure any such genetic trend isn't spurious. Let's assume we did that here. We found a similar pattern in other races and we also performed the same test in e.g. Central Africa and also found a similar pattern there in that those without the gene tended to live valid lives while those with it tended to engage in crime. So the only difference is that the gene was more common in some group or another. If this happened, then I think many would be upset, but I don't understand why. It seems like something we should rejoice about. We could finally put to rest all of the mindless self flagellation in the process of trying to create equal outcomes or explain why they aren't equal. And we could actually get to work trying to solve the problem. For instance it's almost certainly a given that any trait will be probabilistic. So if e.g. 15% of one group who has the trait end up living perfectly valid lives, what separates them from those who engaged in crime? How can we get the latter to mimic the former?

    Genetics doesn't mean you have to start going full eugenics or genetically experimenting on folks to try to remove the gene or whatever. It can simply inform much more intelligent social policies that might actually, after decades to centuries, finally have a chance of achieving something other than social division. Today we like to pretend there is no genetic link to crime because it makes us feel good; like we've made social progress or gained some new enlightenment. But the big danger with this is that it means that if we're wrong then we stand absolutely 0 chance of longterm progress because we're looking in the completely wrong spot for answers.