June 12, 2009
Personal Genome Sequencing Hits $48,000 Price

How cheap does DNA sequencing have to get before you'll pay to get sequenced?

The cost of a personal genome has dropped from about the price of a luxury sedan to, well, the price of a slightly less luxurious nice car. Illumina, a genomics technology company headquartered in San Diego, announced the launch of a $48,000 genome-sequencing service at the Consumer Genetics Conference in Boston on Wednesday.

The declining costs first have to enable scientists to discover what a lot more of the genetic variations mean before I'll seriously consider ponying up the money to get my own genome sequenced. But the day is coming when getting your own genome sequenced will make sense.

Because of the huge price drops the amount of sequencing getting done has gone up by orders of magnitude. This means the flood of discoveries will rise for years to come. I'm especially looking for this flood of data to provide useful personal nutrigenomics advice.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 June 12 12:09 AM  Biotech Advance Rates


Comments
OneSTDV said at June 12, 2009 4:13 AM:

It's becoming more and more difficult for the liberal creationists to deny HBD. Every day, there's yet another breakthrough that gives insight into the genetic basis of our species. I think the first shoe to drop in regards to HBD will be racial differences in disease, as that seems to be the primary concern of this project. I believe they already have one medicine specifically for people of African descent.

Jonathan said at June 12, 2009 12:54 PM:

Huh? I had never heard of HBD until just now. Obviously there are differences on individuals based off of our genes. Duh. There are big differences between men and women, for instance. Certain races are more likely to get diseases than other. That has been established.

Mthson said at June 12, 2009 1:27 PM:

The reason we opposed human biodiversity was because it looked like it led to a divisive society. As we innovate treatments to reorganize our brains according to our personal goals, such as making studying math or exercising every day highly motivating, our personal genomic inheritance starts to become irrelevant. So once it's close enough that we can see it's unifying, rather than divisive, progressives will naturally get behind it.

morpheus said at June 12, 2009 4:04 PM:

indeed personal nutrion and tips to fight and control eny bad genetic inclination

also by then the price should drop to couple of k

Randall Parker said at June 12, 2009 7:56 PM:

Mthson,

Why do you think the truth is unifying? I don't see it that way myself. Rather, I think detailed evidence about genetic factors in determining differences in human nature will clarify in people's minds just how deeply and irrevocably they disagree.

When people find out that they differ in political views in part due to genetic differences do you think that'll make those differences easier to manage? If you lose the hope that rational argument can persuade does that make you more or less tolerant of differences?

I think differences will arise over policies that affect reproduction. If you know someone's got genetic variants that means they are going to have a violent child are you going to want the political system to prevent a pregnancy? I expect some portion of the population will want the government to act as chief offspring genetic engineer. Then things will get real interesting.

Lono said at June 12, 2009 8:02 PM:

Randall,

I would tend to agree - until genetic engineering is simple and universal I believe increased understanding of HBD will indeed lead to greater divisions between society and between cultures.

I know I can't help but tend to view some phenotypes as largely irredeemable - tempered only by my religious belief that such diversity should be tolerated.

(and philosophically I do believe they should be tolerated but perhaps marginalized in a healthy civil society)

Mthson said at June 12, 2009 9:24 PM:

Randall,

I think reprogenetics will be unifying in the sense that we'll be able to finally create a genuinely equal society (in terms of ability levels). I think conservatives are for an equal society, just not a fallaciously "equal" society. Historically, that's been the only kind of equal society that could be imagined, because of human biodiversity.

It seems like socialized reproductive care will easily be passed into law because most of the population will do anything to avoid the formalized fragmentation of society along genetic overclass and underclass lines. In the US, it seems like we'll already have socialized healthcare, so it won't be too large a shift.

A society composed almost entirely of talented people with constructive temperaments would be pretty unifying, even if society increasingly specializes (fragments) into niches. The internet already seems to have been facilitating that fragmentation, with people going to specialized sites for their news and recreation.

We'll have such detailed statistics about different reprogenetic choices, it's hard to imagine parents varying too much from choices that result in successful professional outcomes --which is something on which people of almost all political leanings can agree.

Bob Sykes said at June 13, 2009 5:30 AM:

$50.

Where to begin? "opposed human biodiversity" is akin to "opposed gravity." One does not "oppose" reality.

As to eugenics programs (reprogenetics), these have always foundered on the lack of consensus on goals. Margaret Sanger wanted to eliminate blacks and poor whites, Hitler wanted to eliminate Jews and Slavs, etc. It seems that Randall's preferred outcome is that we become Eloi.

Eugenicists all believe that there is an ideal human type; they are deluded. Any human society needs a wide variety of skills and personality types to function. There is no single ideal. We need many more followers than leaders. We need risk takers for firemen and construction workers, but not as nurses or bus drivers. Our present problem is that we think that not only should everyone go to college but that everyone will benefit from it. So we end up with literally hundreds of thousands of young people deeply in debt and with no job skills. Most (and I do mean most) BA/BS graduates would be better off if they had apprenticed to a pipefitter.

This whole discussion has a serious taint of anti-science about it. Genotype diversity that shows up as phenotype diversity is what natural selection acts on. No diversity means no evolution, and likely extinction. Also, natural selection has no goal other than reproductive success. Who ever has the most offspring reach reproductive maturity wins, and their genotype comes to dominate the gene pool. Natural selection tracks the local, immediate environment, and adapts species to changes in the environment, making species bigger, smaller, smarter, duller as situations change. It is instructive that there is only one intelligent, self-aware species on the planet. Intelligence, collegiality, altruism are not goals of evolution, even among humans.

Right now, both secular humanists and secular humanism are literally dying out in Europe and North America simply because secular humanists won't have children. This is important because secular humanists and humanism dominate our current culture, politics and institutions. As they disappear, all of these will change. From a Darwinian viewpoint, secular humanism and humanists are proven to be "unfit" simply because of reproductive failure.

OneSTDV said at June 13, 2009 6:23 AM:

"Any human society needs a wide variety of skills and personality types to function. There is no single ideal. We need many more followers than leaders. We need risk takers for firemen and construction workers, but not as nurses or bus drivers."

Currently, I agree. But once robots and automated systems overtake manual labor jobs, will we still need these people? What economic purpose will they serve? Will increased intellect eventually become the only economically desired trait? I doubt it, but I do see the phasing out of intellectually-devoid professions.

"I believe increased understanding of HBD will indeed lead to greater divisions between society and between cultures."

I probably agree too. Lack of knowledge of HBD probably avoids social upheaval and divisiveness. Look at the James Watson controversy for how people could react to it.

Randall Parker said at June 13, 2009 7:09 AM:

Mthson,

But we won't become genetically equal. Prospective parents who value high IQ will opt to give their kids 150 IQs. Prospective parents who do not value high IQ will get their kids assorted athletic abilities, super physical attractiveness, or other attributes.

Look at personality. Do you think hard driving type A personalities and relaxed easy going people will make the same decisions about what personality traits their kids should have? I can easily see how a more easy going person will think that giving their kid a type A personality will be an unfair imposition on the kid which makes the kid unable to have a happy life.

So why expect genetic homogeneity as a result of genetic engineering of offspring?

Bob Sykes,

I told you what I expect others to do.

Eloi: To make someone lower in crime you have to make them have personalities more like the Japanese.

The Undiscovered Jew said at June 13, 2009 10:18 AM:

Mthson said at June 12, 2009 01:27 PM:

I think reprogenetics will be unifying in the sense that we'll be able to finally create a genuinely equal society (in terms of ability levels). I think conservatives are for an equal society, just not a fallaciously "equal" society. Historically, that's been the only kind of equal society that could be imagined, because of human biodiversity.

It seems like socialized reproductive care will easily be passed into law because most of the population will do anything to avoid the formalized fragmentation of society along genetic overclass and underclass lines. In the US, it seems like we'll already have socialized healthcare, so it won't be too large a shift.

A society composed almost entirely of talented people with constructive temperaments would be pretty unifying, even if society increasingly specializes (fragments) into niches. The internet already seems to have been facilitating that fragmentation, with people going to specialized sites for their news and recreation .

Human phenotypic and genotypic convergence is already possible for elites in third world countries by using in vitro fertilization regimens:

(Turkish) Actressí sperm donor pregnancy stirs debate

ISTANBUL - Actress GŁner ÷zkul chose to apply to a sperm bank because her boyfriend already has children and does not want another one, leading to a public debate on ethics. If she wants respect for her decision to have a baby, she should respect to her boyfriendís to not have one, she says. Getting pregnant by a sperm donor is not legal or common in Turkey

snip

Denmark sperm vs boyfriend

÷zkul already has a boyfriend but she did not have children from him. She chose to apply to a sperm bank because her boyfriend already had children and did not want another one. She used a donorís sperm from Denmark instead of her boyfriendís. She said in her relationships, none of her boyfriends wanted children or more children than they already had.

"If I want to see respect in my decision to have children, then I should respect my partnerís decision to not have children," she said. This is when she stopped expecting her partner to be her babyís father. Then she said she understood that she had to deal with this problem by herself.

"If I could produce sperm with my body, I would do that and use them to have a baby." She said she learned that this will one day be possible through stem cell technology but not at the moment.

Legally and from a psychological perspective, the ethics of having and raising a baby without a father figure is under debate. ÷zkul said until the recent past it was debated whether organ donation was legal or ethical. "It was debated for a long time in Turkey until the day when those who claimed that organ donation was wrong suddenly needed one. Maybe this [getting pregnant through donor insemination] will be seen as normal one day," she said.

÷zkul is aware that one day her child may start questioning her about whether she had any right to have a child without a father. She is also aware that there may be some legal problems too. "But, giving birth to a baby is something egoistic, even when you have a partner. Making children totally happy is never possible. A child could ask her mother and father the same question of why they gave birth to him or her," she said. Now, ÷zkul said she is at a point where she does not ask any questions that will bring doubts. Donor insemination is legally allowed in only some countries such as Greece, England, Cyprus and some parts of the United States. ÷zkul said she chose a center in Cyprus that was experienced in donor insemination as well as tube baby pregnancies. The cost of this donor insemination pregnancy was around 5,000 euros.

Most of the donors at the center in Cyprus are from northern European countries, said ÷zkul. "In fact, they told me that Turks prefer blond donors since they want blond babies. But I preferred a rather fair colored donor to make my baby look more like me," she said.

Mthson said at June 13, 2009 7:25 PM:

I think this is a fascinating issue. Thank you for the replies.

Bob Sykes,
That's a good point that, by all appearances, secular humanists will be a diminishing force in each generation, despite their culture dominance in the 20th century. Among the secular humanists in my community (many of them academics) who are past child-bearing age, the average fertility rate is .85 children per woman. In other words, since the overall US population is still growing, they'll have less than 1/2 the political influence in the next generation.

Libertarians seem to be on a similar diminishing trajectory. In the US, that seems to suggest politics in the middle and late 21st century will be dominated largely by White religious conservatives vs. Latino and African American socialists.

Randall,
That's interesting. It seems, though, like we can estimate sub-cultures' future reprogenetic choices based on who are their current heroes. Even if part of the population opts for genomic profiles that aren't specifically intellectual, like Hugh Jackman, Denzil Washington, and Jessica Alba types, that sounds like a pretty talented society, even if other people are choosing intellectual outliers like Steve Jobs and Einstein types. That's certainly an order of magnitude better than our current bell curve, and the HBD differences between Einstein and Hugh Jackman types aren't offensive to most people. So that's not absolute equality, but it's pretty satisfactory equality.

However, it seems like a certain portion of each generation will defect to the hyper-rational side, so it seems like the overall trend would have to be incremental progress each generation. The same applies to people who will initially be skeptical of reprogenetics. It seems like a certain portion of them will inevitably defect each generation, and there will be minimal defection in the other direction, creating an incremental trend.

Kralizec said at September 28, 2009 7:37 PM:

In the future, it seems possible that some thinkers will examine each way of life, in all its details, from the standpoint of its phenotypic and genotypic selectivities. They will view the resulting phenotypic and genotypic selections from the standpoint of their second-order and nth-order selectivities. They will judge, as best they can, what is evgenic and dvsgenic in these things and their combinations. Some of them will examine, as best they can, the phenotypic and genotypic bases of their own preferences, and some will even trans-valuate their own preferences and their phenotypic and genotypic bases from the standpoint of what seems eugen1c and dysgen1c. Some will leave behind for themselves exquisite, recondite, dialectical writings, in hopes of reading them and being reminded of the problems, when they return.

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