Not just genomics: the creeping future

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanMar 8, 2012 7:44 PM


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In 2007 Reihan Salam asked me when the $1,000 genome was going arrive. On paper, probably around this year, or early next. But as I've been suggesting it really isn't that big of a deal (the sticker price isn't real in any case, someone will want the publicity). Over at The Crux I try and do my own impersonation of Peter Diamandis. But I wanted to emphasize that genomics alone, ubiquitous as it will be, is not going to be the "real deal." Rather, it has to be integrated into a much thicker and richer information environment plugged into more efficient analytic tools. Personal genomics is a visible manifestation of the likely revolution in the health information ecology which is possible just around the corner. As an example, Mike Snyder starts out with his genome in his presentations on the outlines of this nascent revolution, but probably the more important aspects have to do with fine-grained tracking of his biomarkers (which resulted in actionable information for him personally). Imagine a daily check-up instead of a six month check-up (or a minute by minute tracking system for the hypochondriacs out there). With all that said, keep in mind the dynamic that Christina Agapakis highlights in The Crux. The hype around some technologies always results in them being 10-20 years into the future.* Artificial intelligence is probably a case of this, but less commented upon is the similar phenomenon in humanoid robotics. And yet it is easy to "problematize" the contention that robotics hasn't yielded anything; I put the qualifier humanoid there precisely because my understanding is that robotics is more pervasive away from prying eyes than we might think. Genetic engineering probably hasn't hit people as being a revolutionary technology, but it is, in the form of GMOs. There are many ways that we don't live in the world of the Jetsons, but there are many ways that the Jetsons could not imagine our own world. We see the visions of the future through a dark mirror. * Shiny unitards are always in the future it seems.

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