August 30, 2017

Anne and Susan Wojcicki

Anne and Susan Wojcicki


And 23andMe analyzes your DNA for its implications not just for your past, but for your future. (It notoriously sells this data to pharmaceutical companies.)

A famous example of genetic testing is Anne’s ex-husband, Sergey Brin, who has an unfortunate mutation more common among Ashkenazi Jews. Sergey blogged in 2008:

There is one particular mutation of the LRRK2 gene—known as G2019S—that, while rare even among people with the disease, accounts, in some ethnic groups, for a substantial proportion of familial Parkinson’s….

So, when my wife asked me to look up G2019S in my raw data (23andMe scientists had had the forethought to include it on their chip), I viewed it mostly as entertainment.

But, of course, I learned something very important to me—I carry the G2019S mutation and when my mother checked her account, she saw she carries it too….

Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson’s in my lifetime than the average person….

He concluded on an optimistic note:

I have a better guess than almost anyone else for what ills may be mine—and I have decades to prepare for it.

Fortunately, Brin’s mother’s case isn’t as severe as, say, Michael J. Fox’s.

After eight years and two children, the Brin-Wojcicki marriage broke up in 2015 as Sergey’s affair with an ambitious young Google executive, Amanda Rosenberg, became public knowledge. Anne spent 2016 being seen in the company of baseball slugger and fellow biomedical innovation connoisseur Alex Rodriguez.

The contradiction between Anne’s science triumphalism and Susan’s science denialism doesn’t appear all that obvious to most people. I haven’t found anything on Google that suggests many others have even noticed it yet.

There is huge money to be made in Big Data by noticing patterns, as Anne Wojcicki does. But patterns are what Susan Wojcicki had James Damore fired for noticing.

As the incongruity between the power of genetic science and the anti-science extremism of The Narrative worsens, Susan’s successful demand for “swift action” rather than discussing the merits of the argument will no doubt appeal ever more to the powerful.


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