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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: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:40PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22 2020, @08:40PM (#947003)

    Chess is an interesting little microcosm of life. I've coached all sorts of players and of all ages. What many don't realize about the game is that the 'secret' to improvement is work. Thousands of hours of arduous, mentally taxing work that often yields no clear improvement in short-term (let's say less than a year or so) results whatsoever. People often break down into two categories - those that give up and make excuses, and those that trudge forward. I've never once failed to have anybody in the latter group achieve substantial success. And the former group of course fulfill their own prophecy and never achieve anything.

    Incidentally even among those who do achieve success, the difference often comes down to work. I'm a pretty decent player - strong enough to have a whole lot of Grandmaster scalps, but I could be vastly stronger. Reason I'm not is because I got lazy. And I think this is primarily the reason people fail to succeed in just about everything. The talk of privilege is so absurd. Like many, I came from abject poverty. The full experience - drive by shootings at my school, ultra high crime neighborhood, mostly absent single parent, riding city bus to get to school, having delicious dinners of iceberg salad and ramen noodles. Yum! What exactly were my advantages? It's so stupidly easy to succeed in America today:

      - Do half decent in school which is not hard in a public school because 70% of the kids aren't even trying.
      - Get into a decent college - made easy by first step. Even better if you come from a shit background because that means more access to grants.
      - Pick a real major. Almost slipped up on this one. I'm now just a few courses from a major in philosophy. Fortunately, government money doesn't care if you go to school for 7 years.
      - Get a decent job, work hard. Job hop to bump the salary. Unemployment rate of 3.5% = you're the king.
      - And you're pretty much done.

    Alternatively, screw all that and pick a trade. Even better because you don't have the debt of college. Everywhere needs plumbers, welders, ac guys, electricians, and a million other skilled tech positions.


    No, this path alone will probably not have you living better than somebody born filthy rich, but that's a pointless standard. The goal is to create a society where everybody can do well if they put forth the effort and I think we've succeeded hard there. And in any case even modest success gives you a chance to raise your children better than you were raised and help them do even better. And there is a difference between *can* and *will*. Most people will not do well. That does not matter. What matters is that they *could* do well.

    I'll grant there's some one in a million circumstance where somebody genuinely had some completely absurd scenario in life where he's just screwed. But in discussion like this people aren't talking about these - they're talking about normal folks born into situations similar, if not better, to mine - who fail to succeed. And then trying to blame outside circumstance. Those guys? Screw em.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by vux984 on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:44AM (6 children)

    by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 23 2020, @06:44AM (#947287)

    The whole chess argument you made could just as easily be simple confirmation bias.

    Here's a simple thought experiment; imagine if everyone was equal. truly equal, equally motivated, same genes, same temperament, same aptitudes. They ALL each bought into this idea that if they work hard, as hard as they can, they'll achieve their dream, so they all do. They all want to be an astronaut.

    So we have 5 billion astronauts? Or do nearly all of them fail? There's still only a few seats in the space program.

    That's not to say that most of us couldn't do more than we do, or couldn't be more than we are. I agree with you that nearly all of us could do more.

    But its about priorities -- you said you got lazy; but did you really? Or did you just focus on something else ? The effort to go further in chess -- would it have paid off; or do you value what you did with your life instead of pursuing chess more? Do you regret it? Or or value what you did instead -- even if that was simply spending time with family. Is that being lazy? Choosing to live the life you want to live isn't regrettable.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @01:59PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @01:59PM (#947924)

      But it's not confirmation bias. I've been coaching for years and I can look back on the people who gave up on the work - they are literally all still weak, even though most of them still play. But for those who put in the work not a single one didn't see very significant results and improvement. And yes I literally got lazy. I work at home and have far too much free time. If I spent my time studying the game instead of shit posting on the internet I have little doubt I'd be pushing towards a GM title. Even of my friends who are GMs the exact same is also true. Not a one quit because they hit their peak - it's all because they got lazy. As you get better at something it requires more and more work to get that much better again. It's hard work, and very few people are truly willing to consistently endure never-ending hardwork - those that are become the best in the world.

      Let's look at an even easier example because we can all but entirely remove extrinsic factors. Who wants to be fat? Some people, in sort of neu-think might try to claim they do, but I suspect nobody genuinely wants to be fat. Bad for your health, your looks, and just about everything. How do you not become fat? It's really simple - don't eat much and certainly don't drink much alcohol or sugar drinks. It's not especially comfortable, but it's absolutely trivial to do. You're not even actually doing anything, instead you're *not* doing something. You don't need to got the gym or anything like that. You don't burn calories at the gym anyhow - a mile run burns around 100 calories, a fraction of a slice of pizza. That can help, but your weight is physically little more than a property of your consumption. Consume less and it is physically impossible to become fat.

      Yet in America an ever larger chunk of the population, especially the poor, are becoming grossly fat. This is probably the clearest possible illustration of how the real issue is not extrinsic forces, but intrinsic ones. And it applies to everything. Even with the fat thing, people try to blame outside forces but it's becoming increasingly absurd. Eating unhealthy food is not what makes you fat - eating too much food is.

      • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Saturday January 25 2020, @06:24AM (1 child)

        by vux984 (5045) on Saturday January 25 2020, @06:24AM (#948381)

        That still looks like there is ample room for simple confirmation bias. You remember those that put in the work and improved. And you clearly feel those that didn't improve have not put in the work; clearly they *must* not have put in the work.

        There's also likely some selection bias in the group itself; and feedback loops that actively push out the people who peak.

        "Even of my friends who are GMs the exact same is also true. Not a one quit because they hit their peak - it's all because they got lazy."

        So they all could have been #1 if only they weren't lazy. All at once even? ;)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @09:06PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @09:06PM (#948608)

          The point of the weight analogy was a perfectly clear response to this. All Americans want to be a healthy weight. And all of them could be a healthy weight by literally doing *less* than they currently doing (eating less in particular). There's no external force making it where only 28% (and declining) of Americans be can be a healthy weight and the rest cannot. The issue is simply that the vast majority of people are lazy, self indulgent, and unwilling to engage in discomfort for gains even when it means they're literally shortening their lives through such behavior.

          So how many people can or cannot theoretically achieve some task is completely irrelevant when we can clearly demonstrate that it's these sort of factors such as laziness/self indulgence play such disproportionate roles. This is why your thought experiment needs to start with the assumption of identical people, yet it fails there too, though for different reasons.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @02:18PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24 2020, @02:18PM (#947933)

      As an aside, it's interesting because I used to be on the exact opposite side of this conversation. Not sure if it's age or experience that changes us. Everybody knows you trend rightward as you age, yet everybody also thinks that'd never happen to them. Haha, such self determination we have, eh?

      Incidentally I've also used the exact same thought experiment. Except in my scenario it was Elon Musks. If everybody was Elon Musk do we have 8 billion billionaire entrepreneurs? No, we have Elon Musk asking if you'd like fries with that or dying of malaria in Africa. One thing I had not considered (though in hindsight I think I was probably just tucking it outside of my mind), is what then? I mean, of course this is true in the short run. But what happens in 100 years? Do we still have Elon #4,372,238 asking if you'd like fries with that? I don't think so. These sort of logical, intelligent, and creative minds working at every level of society would revolutionize our entire world in ways that are much more difficult to do in today's world where people are illogical, unmotivated, and driven by emotion more than intelligence. In 100 years (and very possibly much sooner) it's likely such menial roles would no longer even exist in society. When you think about the future it rather reveals the flaw of the thought experiment.

      • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Saturday January 25 2020, @05:44AM (1 child)

        by vux984 (5045) on Saturday January 25 2020, @05:44AM (#948369)

        "These sort of logical, intelligent, and creative minds working at every level of society would revolutionize our entire world in ways that are much more difficult to do in today's world where people are illogical, unmotivated, and driven by emotion more than intelligence."

        That doesn't refute the thought experiment -- the point of the thought experiment is simply that 'not everyone can win'. Someone has to be be at the top, and someone at the bottom.

          You are now arguing, essentially, that if we made the average person 'better/smarter/etc'; that humanity would advance and accomplish more collectively. I don't disagree with that.

        I'd even double down on that, and say that distributing wealth in the form of social security, health care, free education etc is our best path for making the average person 'better'.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @08:48PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 25 2020, @08:48PM (#948603)

          I'll respond to the thought experiment above - here I want to respond to this exact tangent. There is macro and micro-level evidence against what you've said here about free stuff for everybody would make things better. The micro-level evidence is social psychology stuff. Currently, some degree of struggle in early life is associated with far better late life outcomes. It probably builds character. My early life was pretty awful, but I wouldn't have had it any other way because I think it played a large part in shaping who I am today in a very good way. I've no doubt the same is true of folks like Musk. Okay, but social psychology is not so useful. The much more striking evidence is the macro-level.

          Life on the equator on Earth is pretty awesome. There tends to be tremendous vegetation and wildlife with relatively little variation in temperatures. If there was a natural paradise, at least as far as human needs go, it would be on the equator. Yet there is an extremely strong correlation between IQ and distances from the equator. Not hard to see why. When life is hard, you get smart - or you die. When life is easy, even idiots can survive without a cause in the world and they tend to massively overbreed. Even if you want to reject IQ, as is the trend today among some today, the same holds true by every other metric as well. For instance you see a similar pattern among GDP []. And again it's not hard to see why. You start building, storing, and developing - or die. On the equator? Who cares, free food for everybody with no problems.