23andMe is a self-described biotechnology company that offers the service of testing a bit of your genetic material (saliva) for a fee of about $200 to give you some insight into your genetic profile. This would include finding out things like what diseases you may be prone to, your genetic heritage and what medications you may be sensitive to.
For a quick overview of the company, Wikipedia is always a nice first stop!
Scientific American offers up a cautionary tale about the collection (and use, or misuse) of crowd-sourced genetic data, and argues that 23andMe’s offering is a way to hoard your personal data.
On the other side of the coin, CBC News (Amanda Lang) had a short 6 minute interview with the CEO of 23andMe to give the official backdrop to their services. Apparently over 700,000 people have already taken part in the service, and some have apparently found some lost relatives as part of the process using the service.
23andme is positioning themselves as a way to not only help individuals understand their genetic history, but they are also hoping to use the aggregate data in a crowd-sourced genetic database for future drug advances and understanding. If you are curious about your past (and a bit about your future), it may be worth checking out. But remember – once you know something, you can’t un-know it