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Portrait Sculptures From Genetic Material

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the gattaca dept.

Privacy 32

rogue-girl writes "Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg showcases portrait sculptures from genetic material collected in public spaces. DNA extraction and processing are done in a DIYbio-compliant fashion at the DIYbio hackerspace Genspace in Brooklyn, the collected information is then given as input to a 3D printer. The software developed and used for this project is awkwardly dubbed 'friendware', that is it is neither open nor closed, but only available to friends. Reconstructing faces from DNA is not new: scientists already successfully reconstructed Neanderthal man's face from ancient DNA back in 2008. At first sight, the artist's project may seem fun and quite impressive as high-voltage science proves once more feasible at home, but all the data one can have access to from totally banal samples leaves open worrying perspectives about how easy it is to use DNA collected in public spaces for "fingerprinting" people against their will and without their consent."

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Oh, I'm coming! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42901747)

I wanted to enjoy her a little longer! It's all Cirno-chan's pussy's fault!

Do your fucking Kegels... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42902285)

And this shit won't happen!

I'm kinda freakin' out (1)

beschra (1424727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42901825)

That's all I've got to say.

Re:I'm kinda freakin' out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42901887)

You know, it shouldn't be very accurate.

Epigenetics, b*tches.

Doesn't look accurate (2)

no_opinion (148098) | about a year and a half ago | (#42901855)

I have had contact with Manu Sporny, and his portrait doesn't look like him. You can google him to see for yourself. Of course, I imagine this kind of tech will only get better...

Want to see a reconstructed Neanderthal women? (0)

Servaas (1050156) | about a year and a half ago | (#42901931)

Look no further then Snooki!

Friendware? (3, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902003)

The software developed and used for this project is awkwardly dubbed 'friendware', that is it is neither open nor closed, but only available to friends.

So.. closed source, then.

Re:Friendware? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902279)

"So.. closed source, then."

No, the opposite. Open. If I can share the software with my friends, and only I can decide who my friends are, then I am open to distribute the software to anybody. Maybe I have decided to be a friend to the whole world.

Re:Friendware? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902689)

"So.. closed source, then."

No, the opposite. Open. If I can share the software with my friends, and only I can decide who my friends are, then I am open to distribute the software to anybody. Maybe I have decided to be a friend to the whole world.

Then that's not open source, by definition. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Friendware? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906577)

"Then that's not open source, by definition."

Well, that's true. But it's open in the sense that it's distributable. I suppose I should have said "free software", rather than "open".

Shakedown (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42903387)

No Open... to the highest bidder. Then closed.

Re:Friendware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42904243)

I would totally prefer to use 'Lameware' or 'Schmarmyware' waaay before 'Friendware'.

I find the license more truly captures the spirit of 'copy center'

Project as Litter Prevention? (3, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902065)

I notice that they took these samples from cigarettes and chewing gum. Seems to me that if you leave something like that in a public space, there's no privacy concern.

Lifting off of a used glass/hair follicle/sweaty towel at the gym/etc. would be a bit more worrying.

But since a person's features are more than their base structure, it's probably not too big an issue anyway. It's highly unlikely that they'll be able to model exactly what a person looks like at their current age/health.

This method could definitely help with missing persons issues though, as an adult model could be created based on a child's DNA that would look "similar" to the actual person.

I'd be interested if two runs on DNA samples from the same person would turn out faces that look the same....

Re:Project as Litter Prevention? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902905)

I notice that they took these samples from cigarettes and chewing gum. Seems to me that if you leave something like that in a public space, there's no privacy concern.

Huh? Is this some kind of moral equivalency thing? The most trivial of litterbugs deserve to have their DNA analyzed and cataloged? Seems way out of proportion to me.

Re:Project as Litter Prevention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42916371)

It's more like it's impossible to prevent it from happening in public spaces, but it could also happen in a gym which is not necessarily a public space.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42902103)

Reconstructing faces from DNA would be new. Nothing of the sort has ever been done. And how could it? It's not only about genes, but also to what degree they are expressed.

Fris7 s7op (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42902111)

THE PROBLEMS

Sculpting With Genetic Material (3, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902167)

How many of you immediately thought of that scene from "There's Something About Mary"?

Re:Sculpting With Genetic Material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42903705)

I tought about this [youtube.com] scene, actually.

Dirty hairs and face (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902221)

I wasn't aware dirty hairs and face was a genetic trait. I guess then the Neanderthal became extincted as soon as the soap was discovered.

Genetic Material from Public Spaces? (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#42902229)

Thanks a lot. I may never get that image out of my brain no matter how many times I wash it.

Re:Genetic Material from Public Spaces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42907641)

Wash it with 30% HCL (aq)

I call BS on this woman's claims. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42902629)

I don't believe this so called "artist", and think that she is, in reality, nothing more than a self-promoting B.S. artist.

DNA testing isn't cheap under the best of conditions, when you can take a blood sample in an office, and in the case of recovering genetic traces from discarded cigarette butts, etc. that are full of environmental contamination, the obstacles to acquiring a usable sample are formidable. I would bet that this "artist" cannot provide any laboratory reports or paid receipts from an accredited DNA laboratory to back up her outlandish claims of having extracted and analyzed these supposed genetic samples.

Moreover, her claim to have written custom software that can reconstruct facial features, and actually synthesize a 3D face from the results of testing two or three genetic characteristics is laughable on its face.

I can only assume that she has personal connections with the media outlets that are promoting her fake art, or she has paid a PR firm to plant these ridiculous stories in willing press outlets.

I once tried painting with genetic material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42902851)

on my girlfriend's lower back. She was not impressed.

100% B.S. (4, Interesting)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about a year and a half ago | (#42903315)

Obvious practical joke. Not even close to being believable.

No, we cannot make portraits from genetic material (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42903417)

Sure, your genes have a lot to do with how you look. That's why identical twins look so similar. However, we are absurdly far from being able deduce facial features from genes. Even in the linked article, most of the information in the Neandrathal reconstruction came from discovered bone shapes. What did we learn from the genes? Maybe something about skin pigment and possibly hair color. That's it. Nothing about the facial structure came from the genetic information. So any fantasies about pouring genetic material into a box and then finding a corresponding picture of a face on a monitor... that will probably be a fantasy forever.

Re:No, we cannot make portraits from genetic mater (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about a year and a half ago | (#42914835)

So any fantasies about pouring genetic material into a box and then finding a corresponding picture of a face on a monitor... that will probably be a fantasy forever.

Actually we can do that now. It just has a rendering time of about nine months.

Privacy concerns? Consider this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42903515)

Imagine, several years from now when the technology has matured, a woman in the police force whose team has gathered several DNA samples from a crime scene.

The team analyses the DNA and produces 3D facial models of each suspect, at different ages. Then they use another software to cross-reference key facial points in the 3D models with the already-existing photo database of every US citizen, along with their personal information.

Bingo, the policewoman just got a nice list of suspects to interrogate for the crime, using existing resources, and without the politically-difficult need to build a DNA database of every citizen.

I call BS (4, Interesting)

dorpus (636554) | about a year and a half ago | (#42904253)

Other than single-gene diseases, we have a very poor idea of which QTLs influence which traits (assuming QTLs even exist). With billions of possibilities among all the alleles and haplotypes, one can make up whatever combination of DNA letters they want and "prove" its association with a given phenotype through a low p-value. One can also use "penetrance" to explain away deviations. One can build whatever Bayesian models they want, building a house of cards that will collapse very quickly as new data is introduced which contradicts the old. I was going to do my dissertation on statistical genetics, but the more I learned about it, the more I learned how intractable the problem is. I did my dissertation on a different topic.

Comparison with real portrait (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about a year and a half ago | (#42906235)

It would be nice if they could compare the reconstructed faces with real faces.

Re:Comparison with real portrait (1)

ikaruga (2725453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42907799)

Definitely. The "final" living being is the product of genetics and environment (sorry, last time I studied this was in high-school, over 10 years ago, I think its called genotype x environment interaction theory or something like that).
I'd really love to see how much the different environments affect the development of the average human(not counting tanned and over/underweight/bodybuilding people).
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