Medical privacy: lack thereof

Prof. Alan Goldstein, who debated Ron Bailey on nanoethics at the Foresight Vision Weekend, writes on the effect of nanomedicine on medical privacy in Salon:

“And by the way, the proliferation of unique molecular identifiers will make medical privacy an impossibility because, ultimately, these types of data cannot be encrypted. The medium is the message. Millions of people have your fasting-blood-sugar value, but no one else on earth has your gene sequence. Get the idea? Any single-molecule-based nanomedical procedure could identify you beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yet a fundamental principle of nanomedicine is that billions of single-molecule fingerprints from DNA, RNA and proteins will be routinely available for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Which is the same as saying farewell forever to anonymity for your health records.”

Well, not forever. In the longer term, we’ll have control over what molecules we produce.—Christine

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