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

MedicalXPress:

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 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 [forbes.com]. 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.