Pinker on Personal Genomics

As some folks know, I’ve spent the majority of my time over the last 1.5 year as a member of the Faculty at Harvard Medical School in the Informatics group, thinking about security and privacy of web platforms for managing personal health data, including genomic data. I’ve had trouble blogging about it, because I’m still learning quite a bit and it’s difficult to know where to start.

But now I don’t have to do an introductory post, because Steven Pinker did it already in the NY Times, much more beautifully and informatively than I could ever have done. If you’re at all interested in the topic, his article is a must-read.

My favorite is his prediction near the end, with which I completely agree:

People who have grown up with the democratization of information will not tolerate paternalistic regulations that keep them from their own genomes, and early adopters will explore how this new information can best be used to manage our health. There are risks of misunderstandings, but there are also risks in much of the flimflam we tolerate in alternative medicine, and in the hunches and folklore that many doctors prefer to evidence-based medicine. And besides, personal genomics is just too much fun.



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