This journalist lost a bet, and now he has to put his DNA results on the internet

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Antonio Regalado. Image credit: MIT Technology Review

It all started after the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer in April. Police had uploaded crime-scene DNA to an open-access genealogy website, GEDmatch, and located some of his relatives. Eventually, they found him.

But one question emerged paramount (even for those innocent of anything): what’s the chance they could find you?

Specifically, I was willing to bet that more than 95 percent of people could find at least one second cousin match in, the largest of these relative-finding databases.

And the stakes? The loser would have to submit a spit sample, allowing millions of strangers to compare the DNA results with their own. Now, thanks to a couple of academics with a free Friday afternoon, we have an answer of sorts, and it appears I am the loser.

Related article:  Can Google's medical AI improve our medical system? Laboratory results and real life offer different answers

According to their estimates, the chance of having a second cousin in that database is 94 percent, just shy of my 95 percent guess.

The reason I’ve decided to do the Ancestry test, which costs $99, isn’t only that I am a good loser. It’s that the choice has already been made for me. According to Coop’s estimates, I may have 200 more third cousins and 1,000 fourth cousins who’ve already gotten tested.

My DNA, like yours, is already out there.

Read full, original post: I lost a bet, and now I am going to let millions of strangers check whether we’re related

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