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DNA Technology (and Decisions of Passing)

2009 February 11
by Natasha

In the “My Right Self” website, I was intrigued by something Val said.  Ze (I’m not sure what gender, if any, Val identifies with, so I’m gonna use “ze/zer” for now as people in previous posts did) said that patterns are inscribed onto the body, patterns from social forces to dress a certain way for instance, and patterns from “natural” processes like our DNA.  Thought that was interesting, thinking of DNA as a “technology” itself that inscribes itself on us.  The other day, Professor Bernard Chazelle gave a talk “What an iPod, a Flock of Birds, and Your DNA have in common”.  He pointed out how many different processes that can be thought of as “programs” and “data”.  For instance, take DNA.  After all, DNA is just a code (the data for a program, if you will!) that gets acted out by proteins (running the program).  So even DNA which we think of as natural, is a sort of cyborg, and DNA, like other social factors such as how we dress (as discussed by Ruth and others earlier), is inscribing itself on us as a type of technology.

“It is my job to help people weigh the benefits and the costs for themselves, and make decisions based on the best possible information, not on stereotypes.” — This is Val talking about how he assists people with HIV.  It really reminds me of Erik Parens’ article, suggesting that parents should in many cases, let children decide for themselves, and that doctors should help parents to think about what they want to do, to give the parents the _information_ and _resources_ without telling them what to do.

Val goes on to say that after weighing the costs and benefits, ze decided to out zerself.  That related back to the discussion aaclh had regarding passing, and how we must weigh up the benefits and costs when we make decisions to pass or not.

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