back to article Google to feed machines with evidence of human physical weaknesses – and that's a good thing

Google's X laboratory is working with a team of biologists and geneticists to analyze human frailties using the web giant's computing might. The project, called the Baseline Study, is recruiting 175 volunteers to contribute tissue samples, blood, sweat, tears, and urine for processing. The test results will then be fed into …

  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Citizen 1, you have not performed the required amount of cardiovascular exercise as per the computer specifications and you have eaten items that are not on the optimal list in quantities that differ from your schedule. Your insurance premiums are now $875 per day. To reduce your premiums you will follow the exact regimen laid out by the computer.

    Citizen 2, the computer has determined that you have genetic predispositions towards three diseases considered expensive to treat. You are uninsurable and have been banned from receiving medical treatment, as society has determined that it will only spend its resources on individuals with a class 7 or lower risk category. As such the risk of employing you has risen to the point that now employer will employ you; they will not expend time and money training you when there are lower risk citizens that are easily acquired. Suicide booths are provided for your convenience.


    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Have an upvote!

      Can't speak to up in the Great White North where you live, but down here in the States, I can see (with the views of certain Congess Critters) that this could become a fact.

      Possibly even more along the lines of Logan's Run with said Congress Critters being exempted. Afterall, the younger are healthier overall.

      1. SoaG

        It's a fact up here and will be down there soon enough.

        Most Canadians still love our universal care of course but the political landscape will shift when it's the Baby Boomers that start getting told No instead of their parent's generation.

        I don't doubt the desk jockeys that turn people down now would love to hand off the responsibility/blame to a machine.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Now, if you would just like to bend over so we can fit this probe, yes, yes, thank you, just grab your ankles. What? No, no, that will all go in, even at that width, it's just a matter of proper lubrication. You already have the required width from all the rubber glove treatment you had over the years - we even spend some time telling border control how to do it rights, didn't you notice they now employ people with big hands? Now hold still."

    3. smartypants

      Could work the other way!

      CITIZEN 1: Your lifestyle and genetic makeup indicate that you will almost certainly drop dead around, if not before, retirement, and the cost of treating any short-lived chronic issues you struggle with before your untimely death will pale into insignificance compared with the cost to society of paying for the pension and healthcare of someone who lives till their 90s. In recognition of this selfless behaviour, please accept this gift of 400 cans of special brew, a month's supply of KFC and a free parking space at work to avoid tedious walking.

      CITIZEN 2: You have performed every behaviour required to optimise length of life, and therefore the percentage of your life spent relying on society to furnish you with endless pension and ever spiralling healthcare funding has exceeded the limit of 40%, so you will appear next Wednesday at the recycling centre for termination. Do you have a preference for the type of compost you'd like to become? You may bring a partner. If they're a similar age, do expect another letter in the post.

    4. Turtle

      And thanks to the "IoT"...

      "Citizen 1, you have not performed the required amount of cardiovascular exercise as per the computer specifications and you have eaten items that are not on the optimal list in quantities that differ from your schedule. Your insurance premiums are now $875 per day. To reduce your premiums you will follow the exact regimen laid out by the computer."

      And thanks to the "Internet of Things", adherence to that regimen and the use (or non-use) of exercise machines, tracking of purchases of food and "edible goods", and all sorts of consumption and activity in general, can be very closely monitored.

      Not to mention the impending regulation, stricter regulation, or outright banning of various items that cause harm and its attendant medical bills with the way being lead by tobacco, alcohol, sugar. (And if you don't know how harmful sugar can and/or might be then you really need to read up on it. Cf and links therein although this is not settled science.)

    5. Charles Manning

      Surely ist should be Project E

      Short for Project Eugenics.

      Old fads return.... but eugenics kept its head down due to being closely associated with the Nazis.

      1. N13L5

        Re: Surely ist should be Project E

        yep, surely the holy grail of the eugenics people.

    6. James Micallef Silver badge

      "Testing like this will be a boon to insurance companies looking to save on payouts"

      The very reason for the existance of insurance is to share risks over a large population size, so that for unkown risks, the unlucky do not suffer too much for their bad luck because they are isupported by the lucky who never/rarely have to make any claims.

      Sure, if healthcare outcomes become very predictable through genetic research, health insurance companies will make high-risk individuals essentially uninsurable and they will cut on payout costs in the short term. But then low-risk individuals will just opt out of buying health insurance at all since they won't need it. So in the long term they are destroying their own business because healthy individuals are the ones they make profit from.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Except they'll make insurance mandatory. The uninsurable will probably just be moved to "relocation centers" where they will be "processed" into a state that is no longer a burden on society.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. jnffarrell1

    Health Is a Journey, Not a State

    175 people have volunteered to have many measurements of many of their bodily and cellular functions taken over time (a lifetime). Some of those measurements may be taken at the rate EKGs are currently recorded (many times a second). Some of the states along their paths through life may approach "health" and those path segments that approach "health" most closely will be "baselined". Along the way, new measurement devices and data recording and analysis systems will be proven useful for medical science.

    Think of your health on your PC. As your eyes, ears and touch become weaker you need accessibiliy options provided by your computer. Hopefully as a result of this and following studies , you will get options for accessibility to "health". A server farm is just a bigger computer.

    1. N13L5

      Re: Health Is a Journey, Not a State

      You're going to trust in tech for your health, rather than just taking care of and feeding your body properly.

      You have become confused by food processing corporations making you sick and then pharma corporations telling you someone other than you must take care of your health...

      Confused and sold out.

  4. ravenviz


    UK Biobank recruited half a million volunteers albeit a snapshot, University of Manchester and NHS could also do well to work with Google on analysing their data (although no tissue samples were taken IIRC, only fluids).

    1. phil dude
      Thumb Up

      Re: 175?

      Yes, and there will be SNP arrays all the subjects, to provide a nice cache of GWAS studies..

      However, until we have 1000,000's of genomes (preferably 1,000,000,000), the consensus of what constitutes a "normal" human will not be sufficiently descriptive. For example, for the longest time the only complete human DNA sequence we had was Craig Venter!!!

      For the protein I have targeted in my thesis there were almost 100 non-synonymous (changes the amino acid) mutations from the DNA collected as part of the 1000 genomes project.

      Mutations matter. Some mutations matter *alot*. Drugs are tested on populations with largely unknown genotypes. Side effects are almost certainly down to these mutations - we just don't know enough. Epigenetics is proving a very difficult thing to study...but the DNA sequence is the first step.

      Since homo sapiens is only about 100,000-200,000 years old, with 6 billion living organisms, there is an astonishing amount to be learnt about the "normal human".


      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: 175?

        Some mutations matter *alot*.

        And really, is there anything worse than a mutant Alot?

  5. thx1138v2

    As far as I know there has never been a technolpgy developed that has not been abused.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      As far as I know there has never been a technolpgy developed that has not been abused.

      OK, I like a challenge. Electric toothbrushes. Discuss.


      1. DNTP

        Stupid people use them as vibrators, get them broken/oh no I am bleeding/stuck somewhere private, and then have to go to the emergency room. This either drives up insurance costs for the rest of us, costs the government health plan money, or leaves them broke and of less use to the economy.

      2. synonymous cowherd

        Stupid people, proof !

        Check out this student fun

      3. Franklin

        "Electric toothbrushes. Discuss."

        Rule 34, my friend. You can use an electric toothbrush applied to the...oh, never mind, just Google it.

        Used to have a girlfriend who loooooved "abusing" her electric toothbrush this way...

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Big Brother

    Black Mirror

    Charlie Brooker covered this dystopian prospect and quite a few others in his Black Mirror series (Channel 4, UK).

  7. TheColinous

    The computer says no

  8. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    They want to receive samples of urine?

    Surely that's taking the piss!

  9. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Makes them more efficient I suppose

    "I have detailed files."

  10. Cipher

    This line of thinking isn't so new...

    Just take the pain pill, oldtimer...

  11. Coen Dijkgraaf
    Black Helicopters


    Hopefully data protection has been thought about or we can look forward to a society like portrayed in the film Gattaca.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The American healthcare and insurance system

    Offering the enterprising data fetishist ever more opportunities to turn your data into their profit.

    But you can bet they won't be the last.

  13. Crisp

    Molecular biologist Andrew Conrad?

    I thought that name sounded familiar. But only because of that guy from Stargate; Adrian Conrad who ended up with a snake inside his head.

  14. CaptainFrizzie

    Just wait until...

    I'm not a scaremonger or hater of tech, but lets look at a couple facts concerning the Goog. For instance, Google has invested billions in the last couple years on other tech, like robotics and quantum computing and AI. Then, more recently, they show an interest in the Human Genome Project because there is a massive amount of data there, and Uncle Goo likes his datas big. So, we have healthcare analysis, HGP and AI. What could go wrong here? Maybe nothing as long long as the AI, the robots and the genes don't ever meet in cyber space. In which case the email might look more like:

    Dr Mr Bob Dules,

    It has come to the attention of Central AI that your genome has some inconsistencies that prohibit us from allowing you to procreate without a few adjustments. The process is completely automated and painless and will ensure your offspring will live healthy fruitful lives until they reach the predetermined age of death as set forth by Central AI. It would be optimal to also bring in Mrs Dules as she too needs some genetic adjustment. Please remember, we are here to serve the future of humanity and if there is anything you would like added in the process for the good of your children you can always prepare ahead by visiting

    With new pricing plans to fit families everywhere!

    Cheers and we deeply hope you enjoy the next 56 yrs, 3 months, and 5 days.

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