November 17, 2018


Genetics Start-Up Wants to Sequence People's Genomes for Free (Karen Weintraub, November 17, 2018, Scientific American)

The quality of gene sequencing has improved so much and its price has fallen so far that a start-up now says it can offer the service for free.

Nebula Genomics aims to sequence a customer's entire genome, according to the company's chief scientific officer Dennis Grishin. In contrast, current commercial services offer genotyping, which focuses on the differences between the person's genome and a reference one. The new service, which was officially made available Thursday, will provide 2,000 times more data than existing services, but will still not be accurate enough to serve as a basis for medical advice, he says. [...]

The service will be particularly appealing to people who want to benefit science as well as themselves, says Laura Hercher, a professor of human genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in New York State who has no connection to Nebula Genomics. "If you're interested in helping genomic research, this whole picture makes sense. You can be helpful at no cost."

Free is obviously just the intermediary step, as consumers should be charging companies for the value of the data we provide.  Indeed, data is becoming more valuable than labor.

The Box That AI Lives In: How could an 18th-century robot win at chess? By using a trick that big tech firms still pull on us today. (TOM STANDAGE and SETH STEVENSON, SEPT 05, 2018, Secret History of the Future)

In the new podcast The Secret History of the Future, from Slate and the Economist: Examine the history of tech to uncover stories that help us illuminate the present and predict the future. From the world's first cyberattack in 1834 to 19th-century virtual reality, the Economist's Tom Standage and Slate's Seth Stevenson find the ancient ingenuity that our modern digital technology can learn from and expose age-old weaknesses we are already on a course to repeat.

In the first episode: An 18th-century device called the Mechanical Turk convinced Europeans that a robot could play winning chess. But there was a trick. It's a trick that companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook still pull on us today. Guests include futurist Jaron Lanier and Luis von Ahn, founder of CAPTCHA and Duolingo.

Posted by at November 17, 2018 8:53 AM