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William Pattison 's Blog

Reconstruction of Past Persons
by William Pattison | 2015/02/20 |

   You can have your DNA sequenced for $99.  Tools to analyze your results can be downloaded to your computer or your results can be uploaded to various websites for the same.



William Pattison 's Blog ::

   At GedMatch.com participants upload their dna test results from Ancestry.com for free.  Then they can conduct chromosome comparisons with relatives and other participants, review individual gene structures, use genetic clocks to time historical mutations and more.  Most interestingly to this discussion is the "Lazarus" option, allowing the reconstruction by comparative analytics and inference of a deceased persons' genome.  

   As such, we are "recreating" the biology on a computer of someone who is gone.  As techniques improve, our accuracy will improve.  We can prove our methods by testing the inferred genome against interred remains for accuracy.  We already do this commonly in forensics cases and for historical and archeological reasons.  In still other circumstances, courts have ordered such measures when family is behind such testing, often for medical reasons.  

   So, why resurrect the past?  Because we can and will.  The sweeping scope of human civilization is hard to resist and a few short-term ordinances intended to prevent this in one jurisdiction will not stop it form occurring:  see the case of stem cell prohibitions in America while the rest of the world advanced medical science around us. 

  In the end, the ability to recreate Elvis, MLK or your  grandfather may be your willingness to plunk down some change in the right hands.  The ethics of implanting memories from public records, biographies, films, family photos, memiores, achievements, and more is unclear.  While it is accepted that our families will raise and indoctrinate our own kids into a cultural heritage and social way of life over eighteen years or so, is it fair to implant memories, personality, and behavioral paradigms into another new human being simply because their genetics match that of a deceased person?

   Furthermore, while we certainly cannot deny basic rights and recognitions to a person because of where they were born, what their genetic makeup is, or what their family structure may be, will they use the opportunity to make claims on past estates and properties that their historical "originals" once owned?  What happens when three Thomas Jefferson's all want a piece of Monticello? 

  Reason will prevail on some level, and such claims will not be upheld.  However, society may need to adjust to a "Furutama"-like state of affairs as we resurrect the past through virtual avatars of Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross while moving toward the ability to clone them in 3D.  Them Wright Brothers better stay off-a my lawn.

  As a potential business angle, the value of historical research into the life of a deceased person will be in great need as the well-to-do seek to ensure the most exactingly accurate / hyper-realistic version of their loved ones are brought back to them through whichever medium.  Skills in title research, genealogy, public records and critical thought will be in great demand.  Understandings of psychology, anthropology, sociology and history will help to place data into context for a nascent artificial intelligence avatar coming into the world and being asked to be "that" someone.

   Welcome to the world of the future.







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William Pattison 's Blog



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