genome-informed facial image construction astounds
me. First, I am bewildered by the power of machine
learning technology to gather enough information
from primary component analysis of the genome to
generate accurate facial images. I wonder if it is
possible to uncover the patterns in the genome the
computer recognizes to determine the heritability
of complicated traits.
Second, this research confronted me with the
importance of the privacy of one’s genome. As
genomic data becomes increasingly relevant to
everyday life, particularly in healthcare, more of
one’s genome will be more accessible than ever.
These findings present an unsettling reality: your
genome may be used to find you! While, as the news
report states, this application has great utility in
forensics–body fluid samples might now be used to
generate facial images of individuals at the scene
of a crime–it puts individuals at risk. When the
faces of billions of people can be found in photos
available on social media sites, the connection
between genome sequence, genome-derived facial
image, and real person becomes much easier to make.
Just as we protect our social security numbers,
credit card information, and passwords we may soon
have to protect the sequences of our genomes.
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Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson,