Published By: Columbia University, 11/9/2016
Researchers at Columbia University are studying the use of machine-learning algorithms to predict the ancestry of individuals. They plan to use this algorithm to track trends in the genetics of populations for medical use.
Extended Discussion Questions
- How does this story demonstrate the impact of scientific computing on scientific progress?
- What are some positive impacts the TeraStructure algorithm could have on medicine?
- Can you think of any other examples of how being able to crunch massive amounts of data has changed medical treatments?
- Are there any potential negative impacts from this innovation?
- Any way the data could be used against the patients? (Aiming at: Privacy violations, affecting medical insurance premiums…)
- What kind of information or warnings do you think doctors should give patients? Prompts: For example, about prediction accuracy, about who else might see the data…?
- What kinds of people — and from where — are most likely to have had their genes sequenced?
- What effects might this have on the accuracy of the results?
- If you’ve discussed statistical norming: What could the researchers do to reduce bias in the results?
Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework
Global Impact Learning Objectives:
- LO 7.2.1 Explain how computing has impacted innovations in other fields.
- LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.
Global Impact Essential Knowledge:
- EK 7.2.1A Machine learning and data mining have enabled innovation in medicine, business, and science.
- EK 7.2.1B Scientific computing has enabled innovation in science and business.
- EK 7.2.1E Open and curated scientific databases have benefited scientific researchers.
Other CSP Big Ideas:
- Idea 4 Algorithms
Banner Image: “Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop”, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0