Gattaca With Interest

Six or seven years ago I was playing around with a script idea involving “sampleclans”, groups of kids who would sample real world things (including people, and especially celebrities) and then sell the collected information which was subsequently used to digitally re-create those things for other uses (I mentioned this idea a few months ago on the 3pointD blog – reLink). Of course the issue of collecting someone’s genetic information and thus their very identity was wrapped up in the thought… and in the plot.

A few years later I was still exploring the same themes but from a designer’s perspective; a designer very much aware of intellectual property theft and how both sides might behave in that environment. The ethical issues seemed endless and there was plenty to keep me occupied. I even used to go to sleep at night mapping out cause and effect sequences as part of a second script with a different plot. And then I saw “Gattaca” and was promptly blown away. The movie does an amazing job of communicating the basic issues. Only those issues are still valid and slowly (or maybe not so slowly) becoming a reality.

Over the past few years I’ve not given the subject as much thought. In fact, I only bought the “Gattaca” DVD a few weeks ago while traveling. It’s still a great movie, but I got to wondering where things stood on this issue. Cue a post on Open the Future (link) discussing Genetic Rights Management and an article today on C|Net (link) discussing genetic anti-discrimination policies which assure me things are becoming increasingly complex… as expected. And I could probably come up with a few new twists myself since some of what Jamais Cascio discusses regarding unlicensed genetic duplication was woven into the plot for that second script. But it was more fun when it seemed closer to fiction. As we start fabbing body parts, implanting unnecessary devices and tinkering with genetic code, my enthusiasm for the subject fades. It’s my concern that’s growing. So instead of putting me sound to sleep as it once did, thinking about this stuff at night would likely give me nightmares.

I wish it gave everyone nightmares.