On losing your molecular privacy
Have you read 1984 lately? If not, don't bother. With surveillance cameras being installed at a frantic pace and personal customer data being traded among companies as a commodity, the vision of permanent surveillance has more or less materialised in our daily lives, leaving Orwell's prose somewhat outdated.
There is, however, a process that may have an even more profound impact. What is it about? The attack on your blueprint, your genes. Forty six years after James Watson and Francis Crick determined the precise structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, which is the medium that carries all our genetic information, we have come close to the total biological information age. While internet privacy is a hot topic, protection of information about your genetic makeup is not yet considered a major problem. This might be a dangerous misconception. Our lives may be changed by biomedical progress more profoundly than by anything else.
Several biomedical advances have been made recently, each of them with potentially disturbing consequences.
There is the human genome project, which will provide us with the complete sequence of the human genome. At the same time, plenty of new genes and their functions are identified each year, and