Sunday, July 29, 2007

What good is a map?

Imagine being stranded on a raft......An object is floating in the water. You paddle hard to get it. Once you do, you realize its a map. Hooray, you can finally find some land. Or can you?

There are some significant questions to ask yourself prior to having any utility gained from that map.

  1. Can you read the map? I used to be in the Navy. We learned how to read nautical maps. But my father, a retired colonel in the Army, would have no clue where to begin. Imagine someone who had no training......

  2. Where are you on that map? If you have no orientation, how could you hope to navigate. Where does the sun rise? Simple question. However, when asked almost 15% of Americans do not know the answer.

  3. What is on the land you will be paddling to? If you paddle hard to get there only to find out that there are man eating natives, how good was your choice? Did you really want to find that land?

A map of your personal genome is much the same. Jason Bobe over at the Personal Genome comments on some of these topics. Who should be able to read the map? Should everyone have a Tom-Tom or Garmin? Should there be age limits on querying ability. And what if we find out something we didn't want to know? These are serious questions.

The Sherpa Says:

There will soon be a personal genome option. Everyone will be able to have an economically priced copy. We need some guidance on its interpretation. Personally, computers can only do so much. With all apologies to my colleauge Tim Arimond, we cannot program our way out of needing human interpretation. A computer cannot tell when you are scared, confused, upset......yet. I think that personal genome sequencing holds tremendous promise.........But it is only a map.

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