Esther Dyson

Putting Genomics Maps to Good Use

To embed this video, copy this code:

Making good behavior easier.

Esther Dyson

Esther Dyson does business as EDventure Holdings, the reclaimed name of the company she owned for 20-odd years before selling it to CNET Networks in 2004. In the last few years, she has turned her sights towards IT and health care. She dedicated two issues of her newsletter, Release 1.0, to the topic (Health and Identity: No Patient Left Behind? in January 2005 and Personal Health Information: Data Comes Alive! in September 2005).  Also in September 2005, she ran the Personal Health Information workshop that laid out many of the challenges still perplexing the health-care community.

Currently, she is on the board of directors of 23andMe and is one of the initial ten subjects of George Church's Personal Genome Project. Her primary activity is investing in start-ups and guiding many of them as a board member. Her board seats include Boxbe, CVO Group (Hungary),, Evernote, IBS Group (Russia, advisory board), Meetup, Midentity (UK), NewspaperDirect, and WPP Group and Yandex (Russia).

Some of her past direct IT investments include Flickr,, BrightMail, Medstory and Orbitz. Dyson was the founding chairman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000, and was also chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in the 90's. In 1997, she wrote Release 2.0: A Design for Living in the Digital Age, which appeared in paperback a year later as Release 2.1. In 1994, she wrote a seminal essay on intellectual property for Wired magazine.


Question: What can personal genomic maps be used for? 

Esther Dyson: Well it can be very unedifying if you want to use it to determine paternity or something like that are determine lack of paternity you can overtime this is going to be very useful in healthcare but we are not selling on that basis now there are specific Genetic tests for fairly rare conditions where if you have the genes your 95 plus percent like where to have the condition though you may die it something else first so its never guaranteed those are not what we do we look for markets for conditions that are more common but not entirely genetically determines so I mean to some extent its utility is to say you have the tendency to be diabetic so eat well and the reality of it is you shouldn’t write anyway so but it makes it easier to behave better of if you have like we would have most of the things revolve around stuff people should do anyway which is eat better sleep more, drink less, don’t smoke get exercise, but the specificity of the information psychologically I think will make it easier for people to pay tension to that advisor I was talking all the US meet how do be successful as a woman, I don’t think genetic advice is very useful if someone says well I know what company you are in this is a negotiate the political source, that’s much more useful even though its usually the same advice there also overtime different drugs and the tabulize by different people, differently so it will be very useful in diagnostics and in determination fair of people right now its just not that useful in term to genuine healthcare, what we want to do it 23 near the time, is be involved in clinical trials and genetic associations studies and so for it, with are uses data with so concern the newest because right now we just don’t having enough genes to know what their correlated with. 

Question: Are there downsides to more access to genomic information?

Esther Dyson: Well are there any downsize to information in general it’s the same thing sure you may find out stuff you don’t want to hear, you may and is there is its sort of downsize for whom if you believing truth about everything, no if you believe in peoples are desired to live in ignore bliss then there the downsized is knowing stuff, there are things about relationships they can drive people together or they can drive people a part, ask anybody do you want to know that your husband is in fidelity well, maybe knowing better will make it front it and then your marriage own proof maybe knowing that it well, make you can find it and you get forced and so information its, it has its own power to be disrupted some people, many people, prefer after the fact, to know that they are likely to get clear to get something they can’t do something about it, because I feel for one is for an other people would prefer not to and so before doing this you should ask yourself if I don’t like the results tests, I don’t want to do it it’s the same is you find your kids diary do you want to open that diary I mean there all save the more dilemma of should you because it’s the kids, and people need to make one problem was more information’s people have more decisions to make in Russia under common its time that was really easy didn’t need to find a job you can need to decide what education you get this side wouldn’t even decide whether you should take swimming lessons or not or whether you shouldn’t depending on all these sure you telling and so things where wrong in your life, you can blame mistake and was much easier and now you have to decide should I take swimming lesson what career should I go after, should I find out about my husbands background, its we are face with many many more decisions than genetics is just one more of those.

Recorded on: 03/21/2008