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X Prize Foundation Encourages DNA Decoding

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the who-doesn't-love-a-good-sequence? dept.

Biotech 100

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "The X Prize Foundation, the group behind the $10 million prize for human space flight, 'plans to offer a $5 million to $20 million prize to the first team that completely decodes the DNA of 100 or more people in a matter of weeks, according to foundation officials and others involved,' the Wall Street Journal reports. 'Such speedy gene sequencing would represent a technology breakthrough for medical research. It could launch an era of "personal" genomics in which ordinary people can learn their complete DNA code for less than the cost of a wide-screen television.' But don't set aside that TV purchase just yet: Foundation officials don't expect the prize money to be claimed for five to 10 years."

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Costs? (3, Interesting)

I_Strahd (791299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578250)

Wouldn't it take more than the prize money to accomplish this task? If so, does this really give people incentive or am I missing something?

Thanks!

Re:Costs? (4, Insightful)

Pyrowolf (877012) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578271)

I think the technology that would come from this would easilly pay for itself regardless of the R&D costs. There would be an immediate need for this technology in various industries.

Re:Costs? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578345)

Wouldn't it take more than the prize money to accomplish this task? If so, does this really give people incentive or am I missing something?

10 years ago yes. Today it would take a $10,000 DNA type of sequencer machine and a "super" computer to process the data. And a by super computer this could just be a couple thousand volunteers like SETI, but one would have to put together the effort.

Not like you can share all that money with the volunteers...

Re:Costs? (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578388)

You can not sequence a genome this cheap. The reagents cost more than this. The point is that it would require new technology, new chemistry (or better, no chemistry). There are at least 4 or 5 methods on the horizon though.

Phil

Re:Costs? (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578364)

Yes, of course, it would cost much more than this. 5 million dollars is nothing at
all in R&D. People are very expensive. And, unlike human space travel, there are
quite a few fairly immediate applications for this technology and lots of people
who will pay for it.

It's great advertising for the X foundation though. Someone else does all the work,
they get to appear visionary and it only costs 5 million. Pretty clever.

Phil

Re:Costs? (1)

I_Strahd (791299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578412)

Phil,
That was my initial thought as well. I know that the X foundation (no relation to the professor) will look great in the end, but I think that the result of this could help us all. I know private industry is already pursuing things such as this just like the first non-government/military trip to space. It will be done sooner or later. Why not take some credit for it?

Perhaps I would like to see them offer $50 Mil to go to the moon. Then I can start construction on my super-slingshot. I just need some "test volunteers" that can "assist" me in getting my telemetry correct.

Strahd

Re:Costs? (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578770)

Because the people who are attempting to do this already, could almost
certainly not care less about 5million dollars either way. If you the X foundation
were venture capital offering 5 million dollars no one would have noticed either
way. Or better still a philanthropic research charity. They should try sponsering
research, rather than living in it's reflected glory.

Phil

Re:Costs? (1)

Phillip2 (203612) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578792)

Ah. Just read the article. It appears that the prize was the idea of the one J. Craig Venter. My initial impression that it is all the work of self-serving, egotistical, self-publicists seems to have been born out.

Phil

Re:Costs? (3, Insightful)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578618)

It cost Paul Allen (with Mojave Aerospace Ventures through Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites) more to win the original X-Prize than the prize awarded him. They won $10 million, but reportedly spent more than $20 million.

For them, it wasn't (just) about the X-Prize and its money. That was just icing on the cake; the "real money" will probably come afterwards (we'll see how well Virgin Galactic does). I could very easily see the same thing happening with this new prize and the people who are already interested in such DNA decoding.

Re:Costs? (1)

MrFlibbs (945469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578670)

Richard Dawkings claims that the cost of genome sequencing mimic's Moore's Law -- meaning that it is decreasing exponentially. However, he goes much further than that, claiming that the computing power of a few more decades of Moore's Law will provide the ability to not only analyze millions of genomes collectively, but to manipulate them. Since this can also be easily done for chimpanzees, too, Dawkins has made a bold prediction: that by the middle of this century, the ability to create the "missing link" can, and will, be done.

Jurassic park, anyone?

Re:Costs? (1)

MediumWare (527525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578781)

An important factor in innovation is the constraints applied. If you have infinite time, or infinite money, or infinite ingenuity, then you will not need to innovate.

Instead, what will happen here is that innovators will be focused on doing it in timely and a relatively inexpensive manner, which is probably one of the prize's hidden goals.

Re:Costs? (1)

GiantMonkey (664532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585034)

People were already working on this before this prize was announced. I know a friend who is working in a lab that's trying to design tiny little nanomachines or something that can run along a piece of DNA and sequence it. This would just be a little bonus for them I guess.

DNA Decoding (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578253)

I have a ton of DNA in a crusty old sock that I use as a Jizz rag. If anyone wants to decode that DNA, the sock is under my bed.

I can beat that! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578261)

I offer 20000000 gazillion spacebucks to the one that can show me intelligent life on mars. By tomorrow!

third. (0, Offtopic)

monoxyde (554275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578265)

tried to be first, but alas... third

Re:third. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578285)

check again ;)

A whole new era of tire-kicking. (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578276)



While there's no disputing that speedy, accurate genome sequencing will have a significant positive impact, being the pessimist I am, I can't help but dwell on the possible downsides:

  • Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of insurance companies could make it difficult for a person with a genetic predisposition to disease to obtain health or life insurance.
  • Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of corporations encourages said corporations to discriminate in their hiring practices on the basis of genetic predispositions to everything from coronary disease to psychological problems.
  • Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of people searching for a spouse could lead to rigorous screenings of prospective mates for evidence of genetic 'undesirability'.
  • Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of governments could lead to governments investigating citizens on the basis of 'questionable genetic heritage'.


Brave new world, indeed.

Re:Chances are these are moot points (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578453)

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of insurance companies could make it difficult for a person with a genetic predisposition to disease to obtain health or life insurance.

Chances are with this level of technology, health concerns will start to be a moot point. Predisposed to being over weight or having cancer... Well why not just use gene therapy to fix that.

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of corporations encourages said corporations to discriminate in their hiring practices on the basis of genetic predispositions to everything from coronary disease to psychological problems.

Gattica overhyping. Chances are you are more likley to get replaced by cheap foreign labor in the 2010s or non-organic workers (see robots or thinking computers) in the post 2020 era.

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of people searching for a spouse could lead to rigorous screenings of prospective mates for evidence of genetic 'undesirability'.

Why even bother. Most people mate because they drink too much alcohol and forget protection ;) But seriously, if people want designer children they don't need to screen their mates, but rather take the genes and then alter them through whatever seems to produce the best kids. Chances are that most people post 2020 won't be mating with humans anyways (see Real Dolls with AI or true virtual reality) and population control will take care of it self.

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of governments could lead to governments investigating citizens on the basis of 'questionable genetic heritage'.

Well... They do that anyways without the technology by investigating people based on family relations. Chances are you should be more concerned whether these actions are preformed without a warrant/court order.

Re:Chances are these are moot points (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578910)

Chances are with this level of technology, health concerns will start to be a moot point. Predisposed to being over weight or having cancer... Well why not just use gene therapy to fix that.

Sure, and if you have a fast disassembler, all software bugs can be immediatly fixed. Right?

Re:Chances are these are moot points (2, Interesting)

whovian (107062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579280)

Chances are with this level of technology, health concerns will start to be a moot point. Predisposed to being over weight or having cancer... Well why not just use gene therapy to fix that.

There are only a few successes of gene therapy. Getting the minute details of human physiology is hard. The results from mouse metabolism studies do not always carry over to humans. Researchers are make some progress on understanding the basis of obesity (i.e., leptin, ghrelin, etc.) that lies beyond the obvious "overeating makes you fat". Stay tuned.

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578506)

Brave new world, indeed.

I have CF and Celiac. Trust me, it's the Old World, brother. You're just about to emigrate is all. Being stripped and deloused is just part of the deal.

KFG

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (1)

mislinux (828556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578885)

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of corporations encourages said corporations to discriminate in their hiring practices on the basis of genetic predispositions to everything from coronary disease to psychological problems.

I hope there isn't a gene that says "I probably will only stay here for 6 months."

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (3, Interesting)

RichDice (7079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579208)

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing in the hands of insurance companies could make it difficult for a person with a genetic predisposition to disease to obtain health or life insurance.
What you're describing here is the concept of adverse selection [wikipedia.org] . It's an endemic problem in the insurance industry, but more generally is a phenominon of economics in the realm of information asymmetries.

This kind of genome sequencing technology would bring it into the foreground so that the whole American population would suddenly talk about and understand the concept, and perhaps do something about it, in the same way that high interest rates in the early 1980s had everyone suddenly talking about "time value of money" and "cap rates", terms previously only used and understood by economists and MBAs. (Of course, people seem to have forgotten these things since.)

I mention this because America currently practices a kind of strategy against adverse selection in health care by linking health care provisioning to employment through employer-provided health insurance. I'm not sure if this is why the system was set up initially (probably not, as economists didn't have a good theory regarding adverse selection until the 1970s) but the idea here is that if you're healthy enough to be employable, then you're probably healthy enough to be worth insuring from the perspective of the insurance companies. By being employed, you help level the information assymetry that you hold in your advantage over the insurers.

Of course, if everyone (insurers and would-be subscribers to insurance) held perfect knowledge, the whole industry would collapse. Insurers wouldn't bother insuring people who needed it, and the people who were super-healthy wouldn't bother buying insurance.

Other countries (e.g. Canada) solve this problem by making health care universal. It's quite egalitarian, which some people would consider a good thing. It's also very efficient, because now you don't have to put all kinds of resources into a system to check to see if people are good candidates for insurance. (You also don't have to have billing departments or big beefy accounting departments.)

If there's any kind of sanity in the US, this kind of technology will (finally) provide the political impetus for a real, substantial universal health care system there, too. Whether or not such a system develops can be used as a proxy to determine the hidden (or at least unobservable) information regarding the presense of sanity in the US.

Cheers,
Richard

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14601024)

Universal health care is a socialist program. The US is a capitalist society. If people want universal health care, they can move to Canada or Europe. I have the best health care my money can buy. In time technology and medical advances will help decrease the high costs involved in health care for the people that can not afford it. In the mean time, there are social programs for the poor to get health care needs met at the cost of the tax payer. A friend of my family is on one of these programs and he has access to some of the best doctors in the area. His total health care needs have already surpassed the $1 million mark and all this care is paid for by me and my fellow citizens. So the US does not just leave the poor to die. What we need more than anythingis some small amount of government regulation or new laws to help decrease the costs involved. Like the cost of malpractice insurance to name one problem in the US.

Also, if memory serves me Kaiser Steel was the first US employer to offer health benefits to its employees by setting up a medical health care system that still carries the name. Kaiser built entire communities to support its employees needs including the now Kaiser Permanente Hospital system. A capitalist answer to employee needs, not a government run social program paid for by the tax payers.

I like only 20% of my income going to State and Federal tax. This low tax burden is what keeps the US economy strong.

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14579433)

... being the pessimist I am, I can't help but dwell on the possible downsides: ...

I understand these concerns. But we--as in you and me and everyone else on earth--wouldn't have the capabilities we do now if it hadn't been for natural selection. Leave the system alone--through policy and other conscious efforts--and the system will regulate itself; people will evolve into better, more advanced bio-machines.

Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest applies to all living creatures, including us humans. I'm so tired of people presuming that we can somehow change the inevitable. Yes, I care about the handicapped and the unfortunate--indeed I am handicapped, but it's simply the nature of nature that these people will be weeded out; it advances the entire species as a whole; future generations will reap the rewards of nature acting as it always does.

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't help misfortunate people; we should. But we shouldn't let the "downsides" of these types of scientific advances prevent us from going ahead with them.

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581171)

and the system will regulate itself; people will evolve into better, more advanced bio-machines.

Umm.... Actually we threw the proverbial monkey wrench into human biological evolution years ago. Once humans were able to sit on a couch and not be eaten by a lion is pretty much when natural selection no longer applies.

Take a look at humans... People with born with imperfect vision (ie requiring contacts and glasses... no offense, since I don't have perfect vision either) won't go away with our current way of evolution of modern society. In the ancient days people with poor vision would tend to get eaten or killed by things they could not see and even in later times they couldn't do jobs like other people such as scribes or jobs that required being able to read etc. With todays technology they can either buy glasses, contacts, or get lasik and we can see just as good as anyone else can.

The only way to naturally evolve superior people that don't need glasses we'd have to revert to putting lions on the streets and anyone with poor vision that was unable to see (much less outrun... sorry couch potatoes) the lion would dtherefore ie and then fail to pass the imperfect eyesight genes to their offspring.

And if you take a poll of persons with glasses, I'd doubt they'd be too keen on letting them be naturally selected out of the equation in such a manner.

The point of what I am trying to say is that with modern society is that undesirable genes won't go away unless we activley use scientific know how to resolve these problems.

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14581734)

Just because lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) aren't very responsible for the selection of our species dosen't mean that natural selection isn't going on. Last I checked, we're still a part of this world and therefore nature, and though we tend to think we have lots of influence on nature, we're consistently proven wrong.

Rich people tend to breed with the rich, smart people tend to breed with smart people (or prettier people, if they're rich enough), athletes tend to favor mates who are active and fit, and people who live in trailers more often than not breed with, you guessed it, other people who live in trailers.

Maybe the key to better eyesight isn't lions, but the possibility that Olympic Archers breed with eachother. That's all we need, the possibility of such things to happen, we don't need a gurantee. We never had one before.

Great post (1)

Programmer_In_Traini (566499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580237)

You know... that was a great post, because, yes, what you said is so true, i can see it coming 10 miles away.

Although you are right, my optimistic self cannot help but point the followings :

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing would help detect babies with genetic disorder before their birth, possibly allowing the correction of the defective genes prior to the baby's birth.

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing would most certainly be helpful curing uncurable diseases such as AIDS or Cancer

Cheap and accurate gene sequencing would allow a human with missing limbs to have new limbs created for him/her.

well, ive pointed out the three most obvious and i havent read article completely.

The point of my post is to illustrate that there isnt such a thing as a bad-only situation (or good-only). Any breakthrough will bring its share of pros and cons.

Did that ever stop us from advancing ? of course not! Especially in the medicine area. I mean, sure DNA sequencing isnt all that good, but put it this way. What if Pasteur had never created the vaccine ? lots of people would have died of course. But if he hadnt created the vaccine, our body wouldnt have learned to protect against those viruses and if the body hadnt learned to protect itself, the viruses wouldn't have mutated in even more virulent forms of viruses. Does that make us think that the vaccine is a bad thing ?

I think not.

Re:Great post (1)

bpb213 (561569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584653)

"Cheap and accurate gene sequencing would help detect babies with genetic disorder before their birth, possibly allowing the correction of the defective genes prior to the baby's birth."

One thing that scares me about this scenerio: "Correction" might mean kill off the fetus before its born. Thats the cheap option right?

(I am not advocating that through any means! I am a Transsexual, but I don't want to be "corrected". Why cannot I live my life the way I want?)

Re:Great post (1)

bogd (912084) | more than 8 years ago | (#14586975)

What if Pasteur had never created the vaccine ? lots of people would have died of course. But if he hadnt created the vaccine, our body wouldnt have learned to protect against those viruses and if the body hadnt learned to protect itself, the viruses wouldn't have mutated in even more virulent forms of viruses.

Not quite. If we haven't been able to learn to protect against those viruses in millions of years of evolution, I really doubt we would have learned in the 100 years since he created the vaccine.

Also, keep in mind that our body can protect itself with or without the vaccine (the vaccine only makes the response faster, and more efficient). So the pressure that causes the virus to mutate is always there. And always has been.

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (1)

architimmy (727047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581013)

You mean like in "Gattaca"?

Re:A whole new era of tire-kicking. (1)

kostaki (932829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581123)

GATACA anyone?

Been there, done that (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578289)

Folks, make sure you obtain a large polythene sheet before "decoding" peoples DNA.

I tried it once and apart from a blood stained carpet, I'm serving 12 years for my trouble.

Re:Been there, done that (0, Offtopic)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578772)

I'm serving 12 years for my trouble.

And can still post on /.? I guess that's going to change the newer prison movies.

Oh, this is just GREAT news. (4, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578295)

I'm sure that the same companies who fire employees who dare to smoke on their own time would NEVER dream of sequencing the genes of employees and fire any who have a 2% change of heart desease. Oh no. That will never happen. And if it did, I'm sure that congress, who does not receive enormous donations from the companies, will pass laws that will protect us.

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578374)

>...would NEVER dream of sequencing the genes of employees and fire any who have a 2% change of heart desease

Of course they would! We only want 100% stone cold hearted employees, not those weak willed 98%ers that are going to give in to people and screw up the bottom line!

don't be so paranoid. (1)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578422)

  1. There are laws in place already to protect against various forms of descrimination.
  2. One, I've never heard of any company firing someone who smokes. Could you provide a source.
  3. However, even if they did, smoking is a choice, having a gene that puts you more at risk for heart disease is not a choice. Firing someone for their personal choices is somewhat defensible, but firing someone for things they cannot help or change (for example handicaps, race, gender) has been generally frowned upon by congress and the courts in modern US society.
  4. ???
  5. Profit!!!

Re:don't be so paranoid. (3, Interesting)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578501)

One, I've never heard of any company firing someone who smokes. Could you provide a source.

Have you tried google?

If You Smoke, You're Fired [thewbalchannel.com]

and

Bad habit is under fire from Daniels, U.S. firms [indystar.com]

From the article:
Ohio is one of 21 states that allow companies to fire workers who smoke anywhere -- even at home.

You call me paranoid, but I bet that if, 10 years ago, I'd suggested that people would be fired for smoking in their own homes and on their own free time you would have called that paranoid too.

Re:don't be so paranoid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14579394)

I recently completed an internship for a physics company that required I be screened for tobacco along with the other drugs. They don't permit smoking even at home.

Re:don't be so paranoid. (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580111)

It is a crock of shit too. Studies have shown that smokers die more quickly and are less of a burden to insurers than people who don't smoke.

Re:don't be so paranoid. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14595114)

What kind of fucked up country doesn't have basic wrongful dismissal laws.

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (0, Troll)

VisiX (765225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578686)

Maybe companies fire smokers because they can't be counted on to make rational decisions. I wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally inhales toxic substances for no apparent reason whatsoever, completely ignoring truckloads of research (facts really) proving that it will eventually kill them.

This is not intelligent behavior.

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (1)

VisiX (765225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581900)

This was not a troll, it was an honest opinion on why companies might not hire smokers. Shame on you whoever modded me down.

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14584725)

Maybe companies fire smokers because they can't be counted on to make rational decisions. I wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally inhales toxic substances for no apparent reason whatsoever, completely ignoring truckloads of research (facts really) proving that it will eventually kill them.

This is not intelligent behavior.


I certainly wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally drove an unsafe vehicle like a sports car, ignoring all research (facts really) proving that they have a much higher chance of getting killed.

This is not intelligent behavior.

I certainly wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally put toxic substances in their body like McDondalds food, ignoring all research (facts really) proving that it will eventually kill them.

This is not intelligent behavior.

I certainly wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally did something stupid like have sex outside of marriage, ignoring all research (facts really) proving that they have a much higher chance of getting an STD.

This is not intelligent behavior.

I certainly wouldn't want someone working for me who intentionally played video games, ignoring all research (facts really) proving that it lowers their ability to concentrate.

This is not intelligent behavior.

This is a brave new world that your advocating here. Have fun living in it, you sad sad corporate drone.

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (1)

shermozle (126249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578813)

Yes another good example of why having health insurance attached to your job is a Really Bad Idea and another argument in favour of universal health care provided by government.

But then, you guys could just head North to see how it works in Canada if you want to see it in action

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580857)


Are you NUTS?

The reason government feels that it can pass laws about what we can smoke and eat is because it sees itself as paying for you hospital bills. (Even though we pay those bills through taxes.)

Do you really think the government would give a damn about you hurting yourself if it didn't have to foot all the hospital bills you can't afford?

Re:Oh, this is just GREAT news. (1)

nanobuggs (878637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579051)

Sequencing individual's genome doesn't mean that you'll be able to tell if a person has 2% chance of heart disease - you have to analyze the sequence data to find out which diseases you might have - the gene expression might tell you that. These kinds of analysis (eg microarray-genechips) are expensive as well, so people should figure out how to do this cheaper at the same time with sequencing (nanotech is promising, but still costly, and would remain so for maybe at least 10 years).

Ah valid concern, but... (1)

iion_tichy (643234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579120)

I wonder how many genetically perfect people there are? Would there be enough genetically perfect people for companies to hire, so that they could ignore the imperfect ones?

Re:Ah valid concern, but... (1)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579860)

I wonder how many genetically perfect people there are? Would there be enough genetically perfect people for companies to hire, so that they could ignore the imperfect ones?

Nah, you miss the point, when a company hires you they do a simple calculation.

Money you will generate for the company - Money you cost the company = Your worth to the company

Theoretically, they do this calculation for all applicants and then hire the person with the highest number after the equals sign. In practice, much of it is based on subjective judgment calls. They can't see into the future, they can only guess.

So let's say that we have three applicants. Based on their resumes we think they will all be equally productive. Maybe we decide that each of them will bring in $100,000 in profit for the company. This is all just hypothetical.

All of the applicants demand $40,000 a year in take-home pay. FICA and other taxes raise that to perhaps $60,000. All employees get health insurance. I don't know, I'm just making up numbers. Let's say that with health insurance the base cost is now $80,000 a year.

So the profit from any of these applicants is $100,000 - $80,000 = $20,000 per year. Well, one of the applicants rides a motorcycle, and you have to know that if they bash their head in and cost your health insurance provider a lot of money, your rates are going to go up. So we might add a little bit to this employee's cost. Maybe bump it from $80,000 to $90,000. So now, the expected profit from two of the applicants is 20k and from the deviant motorcycle rider it's 10k. Guess who's not going to get hired.

Companies aren't looking for perfect. You're right to say that nobody is perfect. Companies are looking for maximum profit. All things being equal, they wont hire the guy with a slightly higher chance of heart disease, because that person will cost them more in the long run.

I'll say it again: all things being equal. If the three applicants for programmer are: Linus Torvalds (and he has a heart condition), and two pimply-faced high-school students, then all things are not equal. Linus will bring in the most profit and he will get the job.

But for you, when you go to get a job, if you have some minor issue that they can use to disqualify you, then you are screwed. But hey, maybe it's for the best. We don't have predators eating us anymore. Maybe if companies did this it would help human evolution along.

Re:Ah valid concern, but... (1)

iion_tichy (643234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584388)

Good points, and of course, even if everybody has one defect or another, there would always be situations where one applicant would win over another because of genetic dispositions.

Still, it seems to me with more information available, it should in the end be possible to handle things more efficently, to everyone's benefit? Not that I am not concerned about privacy issues etc., but their might be solutions, too.

huh?! (1)

BattleRat (536161) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578311)

What about this screams, "good idea?!"

Re:huh?! (1)

norman619 (947520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578870)

Everything. I for one would like to know what potential problems I have waiting for me in the future. Plus parents would like to know the genetic disposotion of their children. Sure it will possibly be used for dubious purposes too but the same can be said for just about anything.

Sloppy language in TFA (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578314)

The usual problem with science reporting, particularly in biology. The article says "... the first team that completely decodes the DNA of 100 or more people ..." No; the prize winner will sequence the DNA. That is a looong way from "decoding" the human genome, or even the genomes of any particular 100 people. Sequence information is valuable, but it's not "decoded" in any meaningful sense of the word. Imagine looking at an enormous program written in a language you've just started learning, and full of function and variable names like "do_stuff()" and "x1".

Re:Sloppy language in TFA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578462)

Hey... how did you get a hold of my company's source code!?

Re:Sloppy language in TFA (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578891)

God must be a bad programmer - he didn't comment properly.

Re:Sloppy language in TFA (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579250)

It's more like looking at a hex dump. Not much use.
Some inroads have been made in understanding the code but don't expect to debug your kids yet.

Re:Sloppy language in TFA (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581862)

Debugging your kids is easy with the right reference [amazon.com] and tools [amazon.com] .

Re:Sloppy language in TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14585696)

I beg to differ but the genetic code http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_code [wikipedia.org] has been known for a long time and is quite simple. You are right however that they are talking about genome sequencing. Traditionnal sequencing can only be done over a very short dna segment (1000bp). Complete sequencing require a lot of sequencing experiments and results are assembled together with complex and inexact software. There are however many alternative sequencing methods in the work that would allow fast and cheap Genome Wide Sequencing. These methods would be based on the publicaly available human genome build.

Decision decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578331)

Personal genome or widescreen TV for some big-screen fragging?

DNA shmeeNA. BOOM! Headshot! :-)

Unrealisitc and unnerving (1)

jimgarritano (949986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578386)

This is a $10 million prize for a several billion dollar technology. It'll be nice for sparking interest in the field, but it shouldn't make any more Celera Genomics-types. "The plan for a genomics X Prize fell into place last year after Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page joined the foundation's board and then recruited Dr. Venter to become a director." (Dr. Venter is the Vietnam vet who started Celera Genomics [comes from "Celerity"]) Well, that just took the idea from "unrealistic" to "unnerving." I see Google has decideed to keep its mission statement about "[organizing] the world's information and [making] it universally accessible and useful," despite having trashed it's "don't be evil motto." That's nice.

Don't drink the anti-Venter coolaid (1)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578841)

Venter's scientific enemies (like Lander and Sulston) have tried to convince the public that Venter aims to be the Bill Gates of biology. That isn't, and never was, true. You need to understand the history of Craig. He started out at NIH and then started the non-profit institute TIGR (where I work today) when the NIH was too shortsighted to support sequencing in the early 1990's. He joined Celera when it was clear the public effort wasn't using modern methods and would take forever to complete. Take a look at the public database Genbank. Do you know what person has the record for largest total contribution by nucleotide? Craig -- and even before the recent Celera genome deposit. For all their talk, neither Lander nor Sulston comes close. Do you know what Craig is doing now? He's running the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation, another non-profit institute similar to TIGR. (his ex-wife Claire Fraser is the current head of TIGR).

Venter can be a jerk sometimes (and is egotistical; who else would name their science foundation after themselves?) but look at the facts -- he gives data to the public, and is hardly the only scientist who has worked in both the private and public sectors.

Re:Don't drink the anti-Venter coolaid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14593714)

Uh - take a look at the history again. Venter tried to patent every EST he ever uncovered from brain samples for example. Trying to patent hundreds or thousands of ESTs simply because you found them and they may be useful one day is hardly giving them to the public. When the USPTO finally decided to stop accepting "gene patents" based soley on sequence data - then Venter started "giving to the public".

Re:Unrealisitc and unnerving (1)

norman619 (947520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578926)

"Don't be evil motto..." Huh? Why is it that people fear any new technology they don't fully understand? People are so negative when speaking about any new biotech(genetic) breakthrough. Remember all the BS people talked about (and still do) about cloning? Come on people should do some research into something before panicing.

Re:Unrealisitc and unnerving (1)

jimgarritano (949986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579993)

The "don't be evil" line was a reference to Google's hand in censorship for the Chinese government (this is recent news). Try checking out www.google.cn before flinging mud.
I'm a skeptic of this prize because the technology is so valuable that a million dollar incentive shouldn't change the decision of whether a company or individual should pursue a billion dollar technology.
If I offered you twenty million dollars to develop a fully functional AI, that certainly wouldn't be your incentive, would it?

gimmy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578389)

a= array('T','C','G',A');

for (j=0;$j100;$j++)
{
  for (i=0;$i$num_genes_in_human;i++)
    {
    print a[rnd*4];
    }
}

claim_prize();

Do you think you are a programmer? Not with PHP. (1)

(TK)Dessimat0r (668222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578454)

_ _ _ _ _ _ __ _..._ ALL YOU FUCKING SLASHDOT USERS
_ _ _ _ _ _ .-' . . '-. THIS FUCKING PENISBIRD SHITS
_ _ _ _ _ _/. . ._ . ._\ DOWN YOUR NECK INTO YOUR STOMACH
_ _ _ _ _ /. . .(o) ./__) WHERE THE SHIT BURNS FOR THE REST OF
_ _ _ __ /. . .,_ . .| '| YOUR SHORT AND PATHETIC LIFE
_ _ _ _ |. . ./ .\ . /_/
_ _ _ _ /. . .`"`" . .} IT THEN GRIPS ONTO YOUR COCK WITH ALL ITS MIGHT
_ _ __ /. . . . . . . { AND INJECTS VARIOUS MUTAGENS INTO YOUR BLOODSTREAM THROUGH
_ _ _ /. . . . . . . .} ITS RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS WHERE IT REACTS WITH YOUR
_ __ /. . . . .\/\ /\ { VAST RESERVES OF FAT AND BLUBBER
_ _ |. . . . . .;``"``\
__ /. . . . . . / ; ; ;| NOBODY IS SAFE FROM THE PENISBIRD, AND IT
_ |. . . . . . / ; ; ; | FUCKING HATES ALL SLASHDOT USERS
_ \ . . . ._.-`|; ; ; ;|
_ /`-..--`` a a| ; ; ; | YOU ARE NEXT, YOU FUCKING FAT, FILTHY PIG
_|a a a a a a a|; ; ; ;|
_| a a a a a a | ; ; ; /_ _ _ _ ,--........,, FUCKING POST, YOU FUCKING
_|a a a a a a / ; ; ; ; _ _ _ .' . . . . . -='. BASTARD ASCII.. I CAN'T BELIEVE
_| a a a a a / ; ; ; / _ _ _ _\ . . . . . . . : THIS FUCKING STUPID LAMENESS
_|a a a a a/` ; ; ; \ _ _,==" .\ . . . . . . .' FILTER, WHAT AN ARSEFUCKING COCKLORD
_\ a a a .'. _ ,._'\.\~" o //` .\. . . . . .'
_|a a a.___~' \ \-~| | o ./,\.` .\. . . _.' WHAT KIND OF SHIT NAME
p|; a a/ _|.-~'| |o| |. . . . ,-''\..--' IS LAMENESS FILTER ANYWAY
p| _..-'"'. . .| | | |. . _="`
pp~ . . . \\ . | | / /_="` WHAT THE FUCK? MORE LIKE TROLL FILTER
ppp. . . ./,\ / /_,)") FUCKING CMDRTACO, YOU FUCKING FAT BASTARD
pppp . . ._,.-)")
pppp__,=~"| ===============
ppppp|; .;| Penisbird/. 1.3
pppp | y .| ===============
pppp |;|\ |
ppp_ |/' \| LETS GET IT ON, MOTHERFUCKERS.

Trollkore
"I hate you, I hate your country, and I hate your face!"


Important Stuff # Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) Important Stuff # Please try to keep posts on topic. # Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. # Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. # Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. # Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)

Likely illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14578401)

What will they find first in the DNA? A Monsanto trade secret, or the DeCSS code?

Re:Likely illegal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14579397)

They will find that our DNA is 1/3 MS code 1/3 SCO code and 1/3 OSX code. The resulting copyright sute will result in a man named Clive from India being granted prior art on monkeys

DNA decoded with interesting finds (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578446)

ordinary people can learn their complete DNA code for less than the cost of a wide-screen television.

Coincidentally, once these ordinary people get their code sequenced, they find out that they have highly-evolved genetic tendencies for couch potato-ness, eating crunchy foods and better wide-angle vision.

Sequenced AND assembled? (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578480)

Is the prize for sequencing or for sequencing and assembling?

Some companies like 454 [454.com] have got the technology to quickly sequence large genomes but assembling them is a completely different problem. And anyway we understand (roughly) about (roughly) 30% of the genes of any species that has been completely sequenced (mostly bacteria). I wish there was a prize for technics to annotate genomes accurately.

No Need, you already have a blueprint (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581475)

The assembling of sequences obtained from so called shotgun sequencing are hard to assemble, because you don't know where each piece of sequence belongs. (shotgun sequencing chops th DNA in random chuncks, isolates single chunks and sequences these) But once you know where a chunk belongs, and that is pretty easy if you have more than 1000 bases, you can just put it on the map. There will be viariation in the sequence as people do not have 100% the same sequence, but this is very small compared to the similarities.
This also shows that shotgun sequencing in this case is not the best approach, as you will waste resources with chuncks that overlap eachother (in the first sequencing this overlap will give you a welcome verification).
This would be my conservative approach: (I am not active in this field anymore): Determine candidate primer sites on the whole human genome some 1000 (or whatever the maximum readable sequencelengt is nowadays) A primer in this case is a short piece of single strand DNA that you use to make lots of copies of with PCR. You can use 1 of those primers to read the sequence per fragment.
There are ~3 billion basepairs in the human genome. If even if you could read say 3kbp in one run, you'd still had to do 1 million runs. That is certainly doable if you throw enough money at it, but not doalble for say 10K. The price of the raw reagents is just too high (many methods have been patented making it even more expensive)
So that leaves open two alternatives (or more?) Only sequence what you can connect to a phenotype (ie. some inherited disease). That is where to problem lies now, not the capacity to determine a DNA sequence.
Or get develop techniques that do not require large amounts of reagents per sequence determined. I think this would require nano technology, as you need to connect proteins to silicon. Maybe you could glue RNA or DNA polymerase to a chip and have the chip register what kind of base gets incorporated in the new strand. Put a lot of these mini detectors on a chip, add a few (mili)grams of raw bases and your sequence will be read.
But then again, right now we have nothing to actually interpret that data.

Matter of weeks/5-10 years? (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578494)

So if it won't be claimed for five to ten years, nobody gets the money?
It says that the people must do it within a matter of weeks, and if it can't be done for 5-10 years, it can't be claimed.

Just this morning... (2, Funny)

coastin (780654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578503)

while having my Wheaties, I poured the toasty goodies into a cereal bowl and out fell a cellophane wrapped prize. Wahoo, it was a secret DNA decoder ring... Yes, come to papa you lovely $10 million!

I just couldn't resist!

Re:Just this morning... (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581541)

Wahoo, it was a secret DNA decoder ring...

Slashdot poster turned geneticist reveals that chromosome 12 decodes to "DRINK MORE OVALTINE."

Moore's Law (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578541)

DNA decoding uses nano-technology and supercomputer, both of which are on Moore's law curve. This means costs decrease an order of magnitude every five years. So if it costs a million bucks to decode a mammal's genome today, it will cost $100 in 2025.

Re:Moore's Law (1)

astroroach (943264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579947)

Throw in the ability to use donated computer cycles to do the sequencing (like SETI@home), and this may be doable sooner rather than later; however the potential for the abuse of this type of personal information is at least as great as any benefits and it should not be done.

Disproves Intelligent Design... (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578570)

..because DNA doesn't come with an EULA. This kind of reverse-engineering is allowed!

Re:Disproves Intelligent Design... (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578786)

Yeah, because only INTELLIGENT Design has EULAs.

Re:Disproves Intelligent Design... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14579644)

GP's comment makes sense. It's not necessary that a design has a EULA only if it is intelligent, rather that if a design is intelligent then it must have a EULA.

Meanwhile, the GP is saying that there is no EULA, the design is free to be copied and reverse engineered, which contradicts intelligent design in a diagonal way. ..I can't believe I'm posting this....
hmm I'm going to Post Anonymously, this post is too embarrassing

Re:Disproves Intelligent Design... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578963)

Of course it comes with an EULA. What did you think those genes which the researchers claim to have no obvious function are for?

Re:Disproves Intelligent Design... (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579323)

..because DNA doesn't come with an EULA. This kind of reverse-engineering is allowed!

You don't know that until you decode it:

codon 776a: TTAAC-AACTC-BY-DECODING-THIS-MESSAGE-YOU-AGREE-THA T-ALL-YOUR-BASEPAIRS-ARE-BELONG-TO-...

(of course this is just an example... apparantly an example that the lameness filter objects to, unless accompanied by this useless sentence.)

Re:Disproves Intelligent Design... (1)

architimmy (727047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581176)

QUOTE: ..because DNA doesn't come with an EULA. This kind of reverse-engineering is allowed!

Until someone patents it.

HapMap (2, Informative)

derniers (792431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578701)

the first draft of the human haplotype map (HapMap) is already done: http://www.hapmap.org/ [hapmap.org] for a short commentary see N Engl J Med. 2005 Oct 27;353(17):1766-8.

Look for the differences. (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578778)

I know very little about the specifics of DNA sequencing, but everything I've read says that the genes that make individual humans different are less than 1% of the total.

So... you don't sequence the known quantity and just sequence the 1% that is different.

   

Re:Look for the differences. (1)

Anon.Pedant (892943) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580640)

But you don't know in advance which 1% are different, so you still need to do all the sequencing. The "1%" figure you cite is just an estimate, based on a very small sample of individual genomes. In order to get a large sample, you need much cheaper and faster sequencing technology. Hence the prize.

Furthermore, you are missing the point of the prize, which is to promote advances in sequencing technology. If they made the challenge easier then there would be no point.

-- Anonymous Pedant

Re:Look for the differences. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14581973)

I'm guessing the art will be to come up with clever algorithms that do exactly this though: quickly calculate which portions of DNA are "Regions of Interest" if you will.

Why would I want to know it? (0, Redundant)

rubens (824782) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578862)

It could launch an era of "personal" genomics in which ordinary people can learn their complete DNA code for less than the cost of a wide-screen television.

Fine, but why would I want to know my DNA sequence. It's fun to know off course, but usefull?

Re:Why would I want to know it? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579209)

Genetic screening for risk factors is an intermediate step; the real goal is to use the information in your sequence to tailor medical treatment to your personal genome. I know I'm oversimplifying here, but ... suppose that for a given disease, we know that people with allele "A" of a certain gene respond better to treatment with drug "X", but people with allele "a" respond better to drug "Y". So if you're diagnosed with that disease, the doctor can prescribe whichever medication is most likely to work for you personally, rather than just starting you on the standard course of treatment.

First impression. . . (0, Troll)

eutychus_awakes (607787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14578927)

. . .when reading about the X-Prize Foundation rewarding all this work in DNA sequencing was: "I guess they're doing that so it will be easier to identify and differentiate the remains of the tourists who get blown up while flying in experimental spacecraft."

Just part of a morning of disturbing thoughts. . .

Supercomputing to Find the Answer (1)

mislinux (828556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579001)

supercomputer$> diff myDNA chimpanzeeDNA
supercomputer$>


D'Oh!

Re:Supercomputing to Find the Answer (1)

pato101 (851725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579187)

supercomputer$> diff myDNA chimpanzeeDNA
supercomputer$>

D'Oh!

supercomputer$> ldd /usr/bin/diff
libmono.so.1 => /lib/libmono.so.1 (0x00002aaaaabc2000)
[...]

perhaps the supercomputer is somewhat biased, afterall. Thank-you Miguel :-P.

Isn't it possible already? (1)

XXIstCenturyBoy (617054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579698)

I saw it done on CSI!

Pointless! The race is already on (1)

Lars Arvestad (5049) | more than 8 years ago | (#14579717)

I think this challenge is pointless. The race for speeding up genome sequencing has been going on for several years and this price will not change anything. It will not bring in new players and the ones that are already there are working fiercely on the problem anyway. Just this summer there were two different papers in Nature, I think, that introduced nano-scale sequencing techniques with a speedup of 100x compared to "traditional" techniques. The foundation should spend its prize money on some other noble goal where the rewards are not already so high.

Here's you sequence. And it's all been copyrighted (2, Interesting)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580388)

In the ten years it takes to develop "turbo-sequencing", we will have find that very little of the sequence will now NOT be copyrighted by some corporation. So any possible research "cures for what ail ya" will be slowed down by having to take the time to bribe the copyright owner.

Re:Here's you sequence. And it's all been copyrigh (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14595137)

patent != copyright, go to the bottom of the class.

Is this a hoax? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580665)

Is there really a prize for this? I can show anyone how to sequence their entire DNA structure in a matter of minutes with some basic electronics. And NO I'm not talking about DNA matching for evidence, I'm talking about full blown DNA sequencing of a single strand. It's very easy. I don't understand how something like this could be overlooked... How do I claim the prize?

I can wait (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14582346)

The concept of being able to archiave my DNA is just so amazing that I am perfectly willing to wait 20 years before I can afford it. Not even having children offers this level of hereditary legacy. One day there may even be a library where everyone can submit their DNA for archive. It's very exciting.

NimbleGen (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587791)

I bet this could be accomplished with a reasonable cost using technologies like those provided by NimbleGen [nimblegen.com] . They make custom DNA microarrays within weeks. They could pump out enough chips for 100 people's worth of DNA. This prize sounds like a good way to pump interest into DNA related sciences, and could spark new development.

Re:NimbleGen (1)

Bucky_the_AV_Guy (806881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14593731)

Not really - NimbleGen's technology - while powerful - would not allow for sequencing of the Entire Genome. Affymetrix for example makes a set of 100 arrays that would sort of allow you to obtain sequence information (still not quite - not enough detail) from only 1/3 of the genome. With the NimbleGen technology it would take 1000s of arrays to reach this level - and still you do not have detailed sequence of the whole genome for even one person.

If I had to take a guess I would say a technology like 454 http://www.454.com/ [454.com] will provide the next breakthrough.
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