23andme: Evil Or The Way Of The Future?

23andme.jpg23andMe, the genetics company founded by Sergey Brin’s wife Anne Wojcicki will launch Monday with a service that will bring science fiction into reality.

23andMe will offer a genetic screening service for $999. The short story is that 23andMe will administer a test (presumably a swab or saliva test) that will take your DNA and screen it. In return you will be told your genetic history including whether you are likely to suffer from a range of diseases or similar life altering events, including heart disease.

I cant help but think of the 1997 Ethan Hawke/ Uma Thurman movie Gattaca where “during this time society analyzes your DNA and determines where you belong in life;” 23andme is the first step towards that vision. If you thought Google’s already considerable power was of concern, consider that Google invested $3.9 million in the company in May; I’m not suggesting that Google is about to commence an index of the planet’s DNA, but well…no one really knows why Google invested in the company aside from Brin’s marital relationship.

I’m sure we all want to know what diseases we might end up with in the future, and in the development of human knowledge the accessibility of 23andMe’s product is a step forward..but I still can’t help but feel a little concerned.

The below video is an interview 23andMe’s founders Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki did with Wired. And the NYT has a first-person account of using the service this morning.