Genetic Future

Drew Yates at ThinkGene has a delightfully cynical take on the personal genomics industry:

I know 23andMe’s game, it’s the “break the mean with variance” game,
and it’s the same Silicon Valley game that’s been played by internet
media companies for the last decade. How to play: a network of superior
talent and funding backs a group of startups that executes something
outrageous and otherwise unobtainable by contractual or legal
permission (like YouTube, Napster, Google itself… have we forgotten the
shear audacity of copying all the information in the world without
permission?) Then, that startup pushes to spread that new idea as far
into the public as possible before lumbering regulatory agencies and
competitors can react. When the opposition (like RIAA, the State of New
York, etc) finally mounts a counter attack, it now must compromise
between the unsustainable but irretractable audacity of the startup and
the previous status quo. The resulting compromise between these two
extremes settles far beyond what could have been arranged in advance.

I’m incredibly naive when it comes to the biotech business world, so I can’t testify to the accuracy of Drew’s depiction – but any comments from industry insiders would be welcomed.

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  1. #1 marc
    March 23, 2009

    Why stop at genetics? Your ancestry ( can tell you quite a bit as well.

    Maybe Drew needs to look into government protection from them (and many others like them).

    One should be dismissive of anyone afraid of the “public” having information without government oversight, IMHO.

  2. #2 Andrew Yates
    March 23, 2009

    @marc: If you’d like to learn more about government programs, your local city library offers personalized literacy coaching at no cost for qualified community members.

    @Daniel: I’m incredibly naive, too, but that seems to describe how the startup game is played —intentionally or not.

  3. #3 Anon
    March 24, 2009

    @Andrew Yates

    “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” — George Bernard Shaw

  4. #4 Steven Murphy MD
    March 26, 2009

    Great quote…..Too Bad the guy was a Socialist, Stalinist and Anti-Semite. I doubt that’s the aim Mr. Brin is shooting for. Before we speak about people and use their quotes, we should learn about them.


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