Anagram (Ch. 41) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 041

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 41. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on January 20, 2019. 

Two episodes in one week? Yes, it’s true. This is my second to last episode of Bionic Bug. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast, I hope you’ll tune into my new podcast called Authors of Mass Destruction, which will be launching in March.

Let’s talk tech:

I have one headline for this week:

  • Twins get some ‘mystifying’ results when they put 5 DNA ancestry kits to the test,” published on CBC online on January 18. 
  • Throughout this podcast, I’ve talked about the power of data and warned you to think about how freely you give it out. I’ve talked about the potential risks in sending away your DNA to companies like 23&Me and Ancestry.com. Many of you do it anyway since you’re curious about your ancestry, and I can understand that.
  • However, this article raises questions about the value of that data. The DNA of twins is identical. In other words, if a pair of twins each send off their DNA for ancestry result, then the results should be exact matches. 
  • A pair of twins, Charlsie and Carly Agro decided to test this premise and sent their DNA to five companies:  AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and Living DNA.
  • They were surprised by the results, which were not exact matches.
  • “The results from California-based 23andMe seemed to suggest each twin had unique twists in their ancestry composition. According to 23andMe’s findings, Charlsie has nearly 10 per cent less “broadly European” ancestry than Carly. She also has French and German ancestry (2.6 per cent) that her sister doesn’t share. The identical twins also apparently have different degrees of Eastern European heritage — 28 per cent for Charlsie compared to 24.7 per cent for Carly. And while Carly’s Eastern European ancestry was linked to Poland, the country was listed as “not detected” in Charlsie’s results.”
  • “None of the five companies provided the same ancestry breakdown for the twins.”
  • Dr. Mark Gerstein, a computational biologist at Yale University thinks that this must have “to do with the algorithms each company uses to crunch the DNA data.”
  • What does this mean? Detecting ancestry from DNA is more an art than a science. But this isn’t what the companies are selling in exchange for your precious data.
  • “Despite the popularity of ancestry testing, there is absolutely no government or professional oversight of the industry to ensure the validity of the results.”

Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara interviewed Fiddler and tried to get information about CyberShop. Will she bring Sully’s killer to justice? Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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