Tuesday, 2021 March 9, 23:03 — futures, medicine

dot product of Cupid’s arrows

The backstory of Methuselah’s Children, by Heinlein, involves a foundation to promote human longevity. One thing it does is study natural long-lifers by paying a bounty for marriages between people whose grandparents all lived 100 years or more.

Now here’s a stack of wacky ideas of mine. Imagine that there exists, in a setting rather like that of Star Trek, a database of every human’s genome.

An individual’s genome can be considered as a point in a space of billions of dimensions: four dimensions for each base, because there are five possibilities (A,T,G,C and deletion); but there is considerable redundancy in this information, because we necessarily have most genes in common, and the variable ones are somewhat correlated (one ethnic group differs from another in multiple genes). My guess, untainted by knowledge of real population genetics, is that if you could plot all humanity in this space most of us would be close to a hyperplane of far fewer than a hundred dimensions. A coordinate system is imposed on that subspace, and your state documents list your coordinates (in deciles rather than absolutely).

Coming back to the Heinlein: There exists a foundation that gives money to the first child born to any couple whose vectors (from the median) form an obtuse angle. Perhaps the goal is to promote interethnic friendship, or to study hybrid vigor, or to OMG DESTROY THE WHITE RACE, or simply to see what happens.

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