Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The difference between social democrats and transhumanists

Genetic testing tells some people that they have a high risk of disease. They can prepare for it if they hear about the illness years before its onsalught.

FuturePundit predicted in 2007 what actions people will take when genetic tests reveal information about their future:

But which risks will be worth testing for? Those you'll be able to do something about. Suppose a genetic variation makes Alzheimer's inevitable at middle age and that diet has little influence on when you'll get it. Well, I guess you could decide to avoid taking on family responsibilities that you won't be around to fulfill. But initially the biggest potential for doing something about a risk will involve risks that can be influenced by diet or exercise.


What you should do when you discover 5 or 10 years hence that you have high genetic risk of a disease: Write your elected officials and argue for more research on the disease you are on course to get. Lobby for cures for diseases that will otherwise kill you and your loved ones.

This is exactly what Sergey Brin did when he discovered by genetic testing that he has a hereditary risk for Parkinson's disease.

The article also contains a description of social democratic attitude, where people are considered helpless victims rather than players who execute moves to improve their position in the go board of life:

In the study, a team of researchers led by Robert Green, a neurologist and geneticist at Boston University, contacted adults who had a parent with Alzheimer’s and asked them to be tested for a variation in a gene known as ApoE. Depending on the variation, an ApoE mutation can increase a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s from three to 15 times the average. One hundred sixty-two adults agreed; 53 were told they had the mutation.

The results were delivered to the participants with great care: A genetic counselor walked each individual through the data, and all the subjects had follow-up appointments with the counselor. Therapists were also on call. “People were predicting catastrophic reactions,” Green recalls. “Depression, suicide, quitting their jobs, abandoning their families. They were anticipating the worst.”

No comments: