The Third Culture Peter Cochrane

Decoding the Human Genome is a Long Term Project

We are currently being fed a series of snippets detailing the unraveling of the human blueprint — our genome. If every isolated and obscure report were strung end to end, and edited thoroughly into a coherent whole, we might just have a comprehensible story — and one of the most important to be told. But let me jump to the end point and make an educated guess! I suspect that when we decide that tweaking the odd gene or two seems like a good idea to cure this or that disease or shortcoming, or to get this or that eye color etc, we will get a heck of a surprise. It seems to me that the likelihood that individual genes are singularly responsible for any one trait is pretty slim. So I am putting my money on a reasonably strong interdependency, that is — we will have to attend to complex combinations of genes to achieve some desired effect. Realizing an adequate level of understanding of the complexity of the genome code book may well take considerably more effort than the initial mapping of all the raw elements. Like Morse Code and the German Enigma machines of W.W.II, we will almost certainly require some hefty computing power to do the job. Now this really will be worth reporting!

PETER COCHRANE, Chief Technologist BT, Collier Chair for The Public Understanding of Science & Technology, @Bristol, and the author of Tips for Time Travelers.

LINKS: Peter Cochrane's Home Page; C2G: Communications Consultants Group, @ BT Adastral lPark