[ExI] 23andme again

spike spike at rainier66.com
Thu Jun 27 10:56:20 UTC 2013

>... On Behalf Of spike

>...I am tripping all over myself on the ethics of being the one with
potentially harmful knowledge, but I wouldn't give a second thought to the
ethics of developing software which just runs, as software always does,
cold-heartedly enabling potentially harmful knowledge to be generated.  I
would help develop an EZ service Go-find-em button.  This episode has
pointed out to me an ethical blind spot have had for years and never really
pondered, one which is related to AI and singularity research.  I will
participate in development of software which performs duties I would not do
myself.  I did not and would not tell the information, but I pointed out how
to use existing software to get the same info.  So I will not be the bad guy
myself, but I will explain how to use software which will do the same thing
I wasn't willing to do, or even let my own computer code be the bad guy.

Oy vey, I am obsessing about this, with a belated realization.  It is hard
to explain why it took so long for me to recognize this ethical dilemma: by
submitting my DNA to 23andMe, I have inadvertently outed not only my third
cousins, but far more critically, my DNA exposes my male first cousins,
second cousins, uncles, father and brother.  If any of these guys had
anything to hide or anyone to hid from, my DNA out there with my name on it
makes it easy enough for any of their illegitimate children to find them.
With the information freely available on the internet, it would be easy
enough to figure out a list of suspects, then narrow them down one at a time
by comparing maternal haplogroup mutation similarities with other DNA
relatives.  Anyone else could do just as I did with the unknown third
cousin, using 23andMe, Facebook, Ancestry dot com and Spokeo, the four
headless horsemen of the great digital resurrection.

So here I am obsessing about my having outed my third cousin who I never
heard of, when just doing 23andMe exposes a bunch of my closer relatives.

I guess the object lesson here is that if you intend to copulate carelessly,
don't have geeks for cousins; they are too naïve.  They expose secrets you
never even told them, because your secrets hide in both your DNA and theirs.

That never did occur to me until now, because I wasn't a player in college.
Nor in high school, nor since then.  But some of my male relatives were.  I
have not only let the cat out of the bag, I have snatched it out by the
tail.  Now there may be no way to undo what I have already done.


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