DNA algorithms can help convict criminals, but ‘trade secret’ status blocks independent verifiction

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.

In pop culture, DNA is often portrayed as a magical piece of evidence that links perpetrators to crimes and exonerates the innocent. But deciphering it is usually much messier in real life, especially in cases that involve samples of more than one person’s DNA. Over the last decade or so, forensic scientists have come to realize that traditional methods for interpreting these “mixed samples” are often less reliable than previously thought.

Now, Pittsburgh company called Cybergenetics and a handful of other companies are selling a solution: software that claims to interpret mixed DNA with a high degree of accuracy. These companies point to several peer-reviewed studies that describe the underlying mathematical concepts of their programs, as well as results of mock testing in which they correctly interpreted known samples.

But here’s the problem, according to some attorneys and geneticists: These companies claim that the details of how the computer programs carry out their calculations, spelled out in their source codes, are trade secrets. So there’s no way to independently verify that the programs are pinning the real criminal, critics say.

Apart from how well the software works, privacy advocates say it exemplifies an even bigger problem: the growing and often unchecked influence of secret algorithms on society, from Facebook’s News Feed experiment on users’ emotions to the 11 million Volkswagen cars programmed to cheat emissions tests.

Read full, original post: People Are Going To Prison Thanks To DNA Software – But How It Works Is Secret

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend