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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @05:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 23 2020, @05:31AM (#947252)

    One thing you should keep in mind is that I think that those who engage in substantially amoral behavior probably do have literally different brains in that they may perceive the wrongness of their action, but in a different way than you or I such that it obviously doesn't have the same repugnaciousness.

    People like to imagine that environmental situation drives people to crime, but it's well argued against by a simple observation. The vast majority of those in poverty do not resort to crime. I have lived through times being dirt poor in poverty where each meal was a struggle. I never once even considered going to get a gun (and yeah, I did have sufficient 'connections' to get a gun for about $20 if I wanted) to start trying to rob people to get some money. That's just plainly absurd. You can also see the same thing in places with deeply impoverished nations, but ones with little genetic proclivity for crime. China is a land of massive poverty, and also will soon have the largest number of billionaires in the world. Yet crime remains completely negligible. Again so many social science theories are easily refuted by observation. The one I reference there is that wealth inequality causes crime.

    The point I make with all of this is that it's comforting to imagine we might only punish those who were, more or less, like us yet chose to 'turn to the darkside.' Yet there's every possibility that such a person simply does not exist. So ultimately I have no problem dehumanizing those who make society unsafe. The exceptions I make are for 'crimes of the moment.' I've no doubt there's more room for rehabilitation from a man who killed another in a heated argument than there is for a man who picked up a gun and went around robbing strangers.