This is interesting — the cost to perform DNA sequencing has fallen from $300 million (each) to $20,000, and expected to fall to under just $100 by 2013. All well and good, except for the fact that this is going to be used in some very nefarious ways.
Personal Genomics Technology (pdf) is going to be used on all military personnel, collecting genetic information for military assessment. This ominous sounding term means exactly what you might think — identifying individuals and phenotypes that have “have special relevance to military performance and medical cost containment”.
“These phenotypes might pertain to short- and long-term medical readiness, physical and medical performance, and response to drugs, vaccines, and various environmental exposures…. More specifically, one might wish to know about phenotypic responses to battlefield stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, the ability to tolerate conditions of sleep deprivation, dehydration, or prolonged exposure to heat, cold, or high altitude, or the susceptibility to traumatic bone fracture, prolonged bleeding, or slow wound healing.”
In other words, the perfect combat soldier, able to withstand fatigue, stress, injury, sleep deprivation, dehydration, exposure and so forth.
This technology will also be widely utilized by everyone else at these low costs. Insurance companies, hospitals, employers and more. Who is likely to get sick? Who will have debilitating disease impacting long-term insurance benefits and costs? Who is going to be “best” for the company to hire?
If you’ve not seen the movie Gattica, you probably should, because these very issues are portrayed in that movie. Restricting access to social / economic groups by DNA is not at all far-fetched, or who is “deserving” of benefits, organ transplants, medical care or even employment. It would not surprise me to see this technology being used to “plug” certain people into certain types of jobs. Want to be an airline pilot? Sorry, you phenotype rules you out… Never mind that all kinds of “types” have filled all kinds of jobs since forever…
This type of technology gives rise to more control over individual lives and your entire employable and medical life. They’re going to be putting into the hands of corporations the ability to determine on an individual level who get’s what and who doesn’t.
Leave it up to the military to seek the creation of the perfect battlefield soldier — but even if you won’t be deployed, you might find yourself unemployable, uninsurable and unwanted in a world where DNA sequencing can be used in all kinds of ways against you.
I’m sticking this one under tyranny because this is an application of a beneficial technology that is already being hijacked by the usual suspects.