Jul 3, 2018

My new political system

I think that current political systems are truly palaeolithic, in which opposing “tribes” (parties) compete for territory (e.g. votes, seats in parliament, congress, etc). Occasionally, a given tribe amasses too much power leading to monarchies, dictatorships, and all the spectrum of authoritarian and tyrannical systems.
I want to propose a new futuristic form of government in which, ultimately, after centuries, the process of rule becomes completely automated. Awesome, right?
In this new government there are no political parties, politicians, or people who “represents” the people. Instead, the government will be a dynamic, real-time, partially automated, data-driven, interaction between, what I call, “Curators of Policy” and the people.
First of all, everyone in a population can submit to this new government their own policies, it doesn't matter how silly they may appear. They submit policies that relate to the things they care personally. This submission can be done at any time, from any device. The different versions of policies will be compiled in a huge database, which the Curators of Policy, working at different levels, will have to scour and organize and then present back to the population. The people then can rank and vote for their favourite “versions” of the policies, whenever they want and from their mobile devices.
Being a Curator of Policy would be the most boring job in the world.
Not everyone has to vote for every policy, people vote for those issues that they find relevant in real-time. Then the selected policies are then simulated into models of economic stability and are then incorporated into a book of law if they pass rigorous statistical analysis.
Curators of policy do not take any decisions. They job is to compile and organize. We remove “personality” and “individual interests”, out of governing.
However, people will not have to vote for issues that are of a quantitative nature. Say for example, taxation, pricing (rent, housing, utilities, etc), and redistribution of wealth. Instead, there will be massive super-computers using powerful algorithms to deal with this mathematically. For example, how much tax everyone and every corporation has to pay and how it will be used in order to improve the quality of life of all citizens in a fair and equitable manner: this will be dealt with maths. Imagine something similar to climate models and weather forecast, but more advanced. The amount of tax or the price of products would be optimized taking into consideration the income levels of everyone and it can be readjusted in real-time. Into the pricing algorithms a system is put in place in such a way that companies contribute their fair share of tax in real time every time a transaction is made.
Another example, how many new houses are needed per year? This can be calculated by the government’s supercomputer taking into consideration population growth and immigration levels. This can be programmed into the algorithms, which then determines the exact number of houses needed according to the growth models. Using other algorithms, it can be calculated where is the best place for these new houses to be built in such a way that commuting times are optimal and environmental impact minimal.
The supercomputers and algorithms will be programmed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from all branches of knowledge.
After centuries of optimization, most of these process can be completely automated, and the Curators of Policy will not be needed anymore.
What do you think? Should we replace all politicians with robots?

Jun 6, 2018

Vota por Petro, no por Duque ni en Blanco


Una de las cosas que hace al ser humano una criatura complicada es que le es difícil planificar para el futuro, especialmente si tal planificación es, no tanto para el beneficio de uno, sino para el de las generaciones siguientes.

Y esa es el problema con la cuestión del cambio climático. No parece ser algo muy urgente, muchos otros problemas “más locales” deben de solucionarse primero, como la salud, la seguridad de un país, la pobreza, o la educación.

En realidad no existe un problema más grave y urgente que el cambio climático, porque desarrollo no puede ocurrir en un mundo con un clima inestable e impredecible.

Siendo optimistas, para el año 2100 la temperatura promedio global habrá subido 2°C, siendo realistas, más. Un cambio de temperatura de 2°C significa que la vida y el mundo a finales de siglo va a ser muy diferente a la de hoy. Vamos a pasar por crisis ambientales y económicas que posiblemente no se han visto en la historia. Como por ejemplo, el colapso de la agricultura en muchos países del mundo, desertificación masiva, inundaciones como nunca antes se han visto, migraciones masivas, desestabilidad global, más pobreza, más violencia… y ni hablar de la pérdida de biodiversidad global, lo cual hoy ya es un problema gravísimo.

Mantenernos a 2°C de incremento requiere acciones radicales a nivel global. Si no se hace nada... ni hablemos de eso, no quiero imaginarme lo que pueda pasar si la temperatura sube más de dos grados para finales de siglo. Peor que catastrófico.

Y el 2100 está cerca, los niños y niñas que nacieron en el 2017, tendrán 83 años en el 2100. Y ellos tendrán hijos con hijos.

Ayer se publicaron los resultados de una investigación sobre el impacto económico global de no hacer la transición urgente a fuentes energéticas limpias. Las noticias no son buenas.

Aquí comparto algo, la noticia parece todavía no haber llegado a Colombia

Y lo peor es que los países tropicales y países en vía de desarrollo, como Colombia, son ya de los más perjudicados por el cambio climático.

La única solución es actuar ya. Hoy ya es demasiado tarde. Que una propuesta de gobierno esté basada en la transición a energías limpias, y que comprenda la inminencia necesaria con que estos cambios necesitan ocurrir, es una oportunidad inusual, muy acertada, y de vanguardia.

Si esta transición no empieza a ocurrir ya, nos dirigimos con mucha más seguridad a un abismo de peor miseria.

Y está transición no ocurrirá en 4 años, se necesitan décadas, pero las políticas y fundamentos que faciliten esta transición sí pueden ser planteados ya.

Es por eso que Gustavo Petro debe ganar las elecciones. Aunque me quedan pocas esperanzas.

No digo que él sea la persona más adecuada para gobernar a Colombia, pero si él es presidente, al menos podemos hacerlo responsable de sus actos y obligarlo a actuar según su plan de gobierno.

Por otro lado, si Ivan Duque gana, pues no se le puede obligar a que cumpla con algo que nunca prometió.

Incremento en la temperatura promedio global. Lo que se puede notar es que la tasa de incremento se está acelerando. Es terrible y aterrador.

Jun 3, 2018

Duque vs. Petro: comparación de propuestas sobre cambio climático y energías

¿Por quién votar: Duque o Petro?
Para mí, uno de los aspectos más importantes de las elecciones que será determinante para el futuro del país y el planeta, es un compromiso serio para abatir el cambio climático. Esto requiere, obviamente, políticas fuertes sobre el uso de energías.
Como no vivo en Colombia, estoy muy desconectado con el día-a-día de la política. Y hasta hace algunos meses no conocía en detalle las propuestas de los diferentes candidatos, y aún hoy desafortunadamente no he tenido el tiempo suficiente para analizar todo lo que se ha propuesto de un lado o del otro. Quiero de todas formas hacer uso de mi derecho al voto y escoger un candidato basado, aunque sea, en un solo aspecto que para mí es de prioridad absoluta.
¿Qué dicen y proponen los candidatos en cuestiones de medio ambiente, energías y cambio climático?
Primero veamos las propuestas de Duque. En la página de Duque lo único que encontré relevante al asunto está en las siguientes imágenes (haz click para ampliar).


Propuestas de Duqe sobre Cambio climático y energías

Lo primero que noto es que es demasiado superficial, un poco decepcionante. Busqué en su página un documento que tal vez tuviese las propuestas en más detalle, pero no lo pude encontrar. Si usted tiene algun documento con información más detallada, contáctame, me gustaría leerlo.
Del texto puedo concluir que no parece haber ningún plan activo para mitigación del cambio climático. ¿“Mejor gestión de residuos”? Esto es un poco ambiguo. ¿De qué forma?
“Reducción de la huella de carbono con compromisos individuales”. ¿Quiere decir que no habrá ninguna política al respecto, pero que se va a dejar el problema a las decisiones personales de cada ciudadano? ¿Es suficiente? Definitivamente no.
Energías alternativas (bicicleta). La bicicleta no es una energía alternativa. ¿Qué es esto, un chiste? Estoy totalmente de acuerdo con que la gente monte más bicicleta, pero los recursos energéticos renovables de Colombia se pueden, y se tienen que explotar de una mejor manera.
No puedo negar que leer algo así me molesta mucho.
Mercado de emisiones de carbono. ¿Quiere decir que no se hará nada activamente para reducir las emisiones? ¿Y que se compensará comprando créditos de carbono? No sé, muy ambiguo... un poco decepcionante.
En la propuesta número 146 dice que se promoverá una matriz energética que integre energías renovables como la energía solar, eólica, geotérmica.
Muy bien, excelente. Eso es lo que quiero oír. Pero me preocupan dos cosas: 1. El lenguaje usado. Dice que se promoverá, pero no dice que se incrementará la capacidad de uso de energías renovables en el país. Qué significa. 2. La falta de detalle… ¿geotérmica?
Bueno, dejemos Duque a un lado y miremos lo que dice Petro. Afortunadamente, en la página de Petro hay una propuesta un poco más detallada de lo que se quiere hacer. Eso le gana un puntico en mi opinión, lo copié abajo, e inserto mis comentarios en paréntesis y cursiva. 
Cambio climático, superación del extractivismo y transición energética
Enfrentar los desafíos del cambio climático constituye uno de los grandes retos de nuestro país y del mundo en los próximos años, que implica trasformaciones profundas en el modelo económico y no solo mejores políticas ambientales: uno de los principales cambios consiste en la disminución del uso de energías fósiles.
(Sí, 100% acertado y estoy de acuerdo. La situación requiere acción inmediata.)
Para esto se requiere el fortalecimiento del papel del sector público mediante ajustes en el marco normativo, mejora de la investigación científica y promoción de conversión tecnológica en las actividades productivas con mayor potencial para una economía donde lo ambiental sea priorizado. Entre ellas tenemos inversión en conservación de bosques, reducción de la deforestación, tecnologías de producción agrícola y pecuaria con menores emisiones de gases efecto invernadero, transición a sistemas de transporte no basados en energías fósiles o energías no renovables; manejo de residuos; control a la expansión urbana física, estímulos dirigidos a mejorar la calidad de vida y el empleo en ciudades de talla media, como medida para evitar el crecimiento de grandes centros urbanos.
(Mejora de la investigación científica, ¡muy bien! Me alegra oír esto, y que habrá inversión en acelerar una transición a sistemas de transporte no basados en energías fósiles, también.)
Partimos de la diferenciación entre la extracción de minerales y la del petróleo. La primera exige un replanteamiento inmediato de las reglas de juego, mientras que la segunda implica entrar en una fase de transición hacia la reconversión.
(Sí, esto es necesario, es urgente, y Colombia debería hacer lo que más pueda para ser líder en esta transición.)
En nuestro gobierno el fracking no será permitido, la gran minera de oro a cielo abierto tampoco. Se restringirá y condicionará la minería a cielo abierto en función de la protección ambiental y la equidad social. Los contratos de extracción de carbón no serán renovados, ni se permitirán intervenciones que afecten el acceso al agua y la seguridad alimentaria de las comunidades que residen en la zona. El carbón que se extrae es destinado a la exportación y los ingresos fiscales que ella genera no tienen ninguna proporcionalidad respecto a sus efectos sociales y ambientales. De manera inmediata se adelantará un programa compensatorio de desarrollo humano para mejorar las condiciones de vida de las poblaciones de la zona y, en particular, de los pueblos indígenas.
(Sí, excelente, estoy de acuerdo 100%, no fracking, más que todo por lo que la transición a energías limpias debe ocurrir ya. Sin embargo, me gustaría saber más del programa compensatorio de desarrollo humano, ¿de qué se trata específicamente?)
La pequeña minería dirigida al consumo interno será objeto de un programa concertado orientado a disminuir sus impactos sociales y ecológicos, con base en acuerdos con los actores regionales. Acentuaremos los controles ambientales, laborales y fiscales sobre la minería en curso.
Respetaremos las decisiones democráticas de las consultas populares y se asignarán recursos para programas de desarrollo productivo en las zonas donde se decide no continuar con la extracción minera. Exigiremos a las empresas mineras la rehabilitación de las áreas intervenidas y en riesgo inminente, la descontaminación de los ríos, así como el restablecimiento de los derechos de las poblaciones afectadas. Nacionalizaremos las reservas mineras y aumentaremos la renta minera mejorando vigilancia, contabilidad y fiscalización.
(Me parece bien, aunque no estoy seguro de que la nacionalización completa de las reservas mineras es lo más adecuado. Sí pienso que el gobierno debe controlar la explotación rigurosamente, porque o sino estás compañías mineras gigantes hacen literalmente lo que les da la gana, sin importar el daño ambiental o cultural que siempre es inevitable y enorme... y te lo venden como si fuese algo sostenible.)
Le quitaremos a las mafias el control que ejercen sobre la minería tradicional y a pequeña escala, se buscará fortalecer su organización comunitaria y se apoyará con financiación y acompañamiento a la reconversión a otras actividades productivas.
Ecopetrol, sin perjuicio de la gestión de la extracción petrolera en la transición, se convertirá en una empresa dedicada a la investigación, la promoción y la implementación de energías renovables.
(Sí, sí, sí, sí, ¡por favor! ¡Me encanta! Como científico no puedo negar que esto me parece muy bien.)
Ajustaremos la regulación y adoptaremos políticas de promoción para que las empresas del sector eléctrico desarrollen tecnologías de producción de energía hídrica descentralizadas y de pequeña escala, que no utilicen represas o embalses, sino que aprovechen la fuerza del caudal del río.
(No sabía que esto era posible, me gusta.)
Cambiaremos progresivamente las energías que utilizamos en la industria, el comercio y en nuestras casas; empezaremos a usar energías que no contaminen, que sean más baratas y que incluso puedan producir ingresos para las personas.
Esta transición será pública y privada y nos llevará del petróleo, el gas y el carbón a las energías solar, eólica, geotérmica y de las mareas, entre otras.
(Geotérmica, de mareas… bla, bla bla: fácil de decir, difícil de lograr en práctica, muy pocas de éstas existen alrededor del mundo, pero bueno, que ambos candidatos digan lo mismo me dice que lo hacen simplemente por enumerar algo que la gente quiera oir, sin haber ni un plan detallado ni un estudio preliminar de factibilidad, simplemente son palabras.)
Democratizaremos la producción y la distribución de la energía; se desarrollará un programa de paneles solares, con el cual las comunidades mejorarán sus condiciones de vida y podrán eventualmente beneficiarse económicamente.
(OK, me parece muy bien.) 
Conclusión: me decepciona que en la página de Duque toda la información es presentada muy superficialmente y que utiliza un lenguaje muy ambiguo. En su superficialidad me parece que las políticas de Duque en este respecto son muy pasivas y me da la impresión que el tema no es tomado con seriedad. Definitivamente, Petro y yo compartimos un sentimiento de urgencia e inminencia respecto a la transición a energías limpias y una preocupación real por los efectos del cambio climático y sus consecuencias. Esto me dice que Petro es menos ignorante respecto a la situación ambiental actual del mundo y de lo que se necesita hacer al respecto. La idea de transformar Ecopetrol en una empresa de investigación me parece muy bacana.
Me preocupa que los diferentes candidatos no tengan que presentar un documento extenso con los detalles de todas las propuestas que sea de accesso público. Si existe no sé en donde encontrarlo.

Apr 15, 2016

Is Germany's airport staff less trusting of foreigners?

After my recent experiences travelling without a Shengen visa in Europe, I must say that Germans (e.g. airline/airport staff, airport security) are a lot less trustworthy of foreigners than say, the UK or Sweden.

About 20 days ago I travelled to Sweden with Norwegian Airlines for a few days. I  was able to do an automatic check-in both at Heathrow and Arlanda airports, everything went absolutely smoothly entering Sweden and back into the UK. When I arrived to Sweden at passport control I was asked what was the reason of my visit and how long I was staying. My passport was then stamped and everything was good.

In Germany it was a lot different. First, when I was boarding my Lufthansa flight in London, I was asked by the flight attendant before boarding if I needed a visa. This was a bit surprising to me because the Shengen visa exception for Colombians started quite sometime ago. It was rather unprofessional taking into consideration that I was boarding now and that I was certainly not the only Colombian person this attendant must have met trying to board a Lufthansa flight. I just said "no, Colombians don't need a visa anymore", and he let me cross... does it make sense?

Upon arrival to Germany, at passport control and unlike Sweden, the lady who was checking my passport demanded to see my flight tickets, she asked if I had a "residence card", but didn't specify whether she meant a German one or a British one. So I said "no" assuming she asked for a German one. Then she started to become annoyed because it didn't make sense to her that I was coming from Colombia to Dresden for only two days. Didn't she realise that I was coming from London? Then she demanded to see my UK residence permit, which she did not have to see to let me into Germany. I was not asked for this when I entered Sweden.

On return to the UK from Germany, I couldn't do an automatic check-in because I'm asked to provide additional passport and visa information, which I did not have to do when I was back from Sweden. At the Lufthansa counter the lady took about 10 minutes to finally be able to input my passport and visa information. In Sweden I got my boarding pass within a minute and I proceeded to the gates with absolutely no delays.

Then at security, it seemed that the sensor sensitivity is put on max because almost everybody had to be body checked, to the anger of the airport security people who lacked any visible sings of kindness and calmness. And it was only 3 pm.

Thumbs down to Munich International Airport and Lufthansa, thumbs up for Arlanda and Norwegian!

Dresden by night

Jul 15, 2015

Pluto flyby: what does it really matter

Yesterday for the first time in history a space probe encountered Pluto and its moons at the outer reaches of the Solar System. It is an incredible scientific accomplishment, but what does it matter, really? What does it really mean? It has made me reflect a bit...

Consider this, the total cost of the New Horizons mission to Pluto was 700 million USD. Just a few months ago I read that obesity costs the UK government 47 billion GBP (~75 billion USD) per year. This means that if people lived a healthier life we could explore the Solar System many times over.

Now, the world’s expenditure in war and military just in 2012 was 1.7 trillion USD.

Imagine if there were no wars among nations, no inner conflicts. Imagine if there was no need to spend in military and this money could be invested in research and development. The things we could have accomplished already. Only one country has sent space probes to all the planets, but there are 196 countries in the world. We could have right now hundreds of satellites orbiting all the planets, rovers in the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, even perhaps a research institute permanently based in the moon. We could have surely eliminated poverty, reverted climate change, transitioned completely into clean energies, eradicated terminal diseases, expanded the life expectancy and well-being of people beyond the century.

Sending a space probe to Pluto is certainly an amazing accomplishment… but just for those scientist and engineers involved in that mission. I think humanity as a whole cannot take credit for this. Not yet.

Pluto New Horizons Nasa
Pluto by New Horizons

May 16, 2015

Overapologetic Britain

According to Debretts: "For many British people, apologizing is a default reaction to life's little irritants. If someone barges into you, treads on your toes or spills your drink, it is considered quite normal for the victim to mutter 'sorry'. This is clearly illogical, but for many British people it is an ingrained response."

Before moving to the UK I didn't know that it was a thing for British people to apologize about everything, even if you're actually the "victim".

The funny thing is that I'm not British and I do exactly the same thing. I don't think I started doing it since I arrived to Britain, I think it's my natural reaction. So it got me thinking… and I've come to the conclusion that although apologizing in many situations might seem illogical, it serves a very important purpose. In this case "sorry" doesn't mean that you're sorry; but, by exchanging "sorry" both the offending person and the victim in this little social inconvenience (e.g. bumping into each other in the tube) come to an immediate understanding that it was accidental and that no aggression or disrespect was meant: all in a split second. It's a way to maintain peace, and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

So, to me, it kind of makes sense and it's a good thing.

Camden town street art
Camden High Street, NW1

May 25, 2014

Smartphone addiction and the doom of society and relationships

Every time I see one of those videos so popular nowadays: friends at a table in a restaurant, all of them checking out their phones; or in the tube, all of them playing a game in their phones; or in bed, the couple checking their smartphones and ignoring the depths of love blinded by the latest technological advancements, and then... “Oh my god, this is the end of society, the end of human emotions and genuine human connection.”

Banksy's Mobile Lovers

I think that is bullshit. Nothing has changed in the way people behaves since probably the H. neanderthalensis/H. sapiens evolutionary divergence. Those friends at a table would not be talking even if samrtphones didn't exist, probably they don't have anything to say to each other. What better way to spend the commuting time to work if not playing flappy birds, 2048, or whatever silly game. Smartphones have changed nothing and in many ways have improved life tremendously. That couple in bed... they are probably going to break up soon. If a couple check their phones in bed when they should be doing some more interesting activities, it only means that there is an underlying problem in the relationship, the phone is not to blame.

Nothing has changed, people, nothing at all. Before current technology, when the first hammocks became popular and men and women started swinging back and forth and taking naps, some people probably thought, “this is the end of our society, culture, and tradition... now they lie down in the hammock all afternoon doing nothing, when they should be having complex social interactions, being happy, laughing, frolicking, and holding hands. It is the doom of society.”

And look! It's 2014, we're still here.

Dec 22, 2013

London's mold of doom

Before you travel to a new country you probably will hear a lot of things in advance: about the weather, the transport system, the language, the currency, or the myths and legends about how people are and the nuances of their culture. There are things however, you will never find out until you get there!

One of the most surprising things about London, perhaps the entire UK, is a black mold, a fungus so pervasive that nothing can escape it. It terrifies me because in my three decades of life I have not seen any life form so aggressive and resilient, besides Homo sapiens and cyanobacteria. I swear it! For the Brits it makes already part of their daily lives and their natural landscape, so they don't make a big deal of it, rarely mention it and seem to be pretty oblivious to its existence, but it is nonetheless one nasty fungus.

At the beginning of the autumn, when it was getting cold, I decided to wear one of my winter jackets for the first time in that season to go to the shop one Saturday morning, when I take a look at the jacket it had been completely colonized by the m****f***ing fungus. How disgusting, NAAASTY!

I had never experienced anything like it.

This fungus grows everywhere, it lives within a rubber that is used to seal tile corners in the shower and sinks, it grows within the fibers of the curtain shower, it grows within every wall where it probably feeds from the paint, it grows in pretty much every surface of any material you find in a house. It has completely invaded my flat-mate's shaving razor and she does not seem to realize it at all. I have seen this fungus in the lid of plastic lunch boxes from some people at work. It invades your clothing hanging in the closet if you leave it unattended for just a few weeks. It grew on the plastic lenses of a pair of 3D glasses I forgot in a drawer. The nasty fungus also thrives in the cold rooms of our laboratory and probably every laboratory in the UK, so it clearly loves the low temperatures and high humidity. Every so often, it needs to be bleached, but that will not stop it from invading once again! Nothing can escape this fungus of doom.

I must say that during the five years that I lived in Sweden, I never experienced a fungus like that in my apartment... not even during summer time. Neither in my hometown in Montería nor Bogotá I saw a mold so nasty, and that is the tropics! In Paris, I never had to worry about anything like this and the building where I first lived was probably a couple of hundred years old.

I have asked people around and I have seen other apartments and I'm sure this is not an isolated problem of my house, but a quite common occurrence. 

I think this has to do perhaps with the fact that the UK is an island, so the humidity in general is very high and the temperature rarely goes below freezing, at least in the south. Who knows.

Nasty.


Dec 11, 2013

Journey to myself - 23andMe, health results (Part 4)

I might have been one of the last customers of 23andMe to have received health information from the DNA sequencing service they offered. Although initially I was most interested in exploring my ancestry, the main reason I chose this service rather than any other ancestry service was because I could get the additional health information. Unfortunately, FDA has ordered 23andMe to stop providing health data and who-knows-when they will be able to do so again. As controversial as it is the interpretation of our individual genome data now, because we know so little, I think it is the right direction the world should move towards. Eventually, we should be able to access our genome data whenever we want, and have clear and extensive information of any risk for developing any diseases or condition before they have happened, so that we could act in advance before it is too late... at least if it is within the limits of our own possibilities and the available technologies. In an ideal world, this genome data should be used fairly for the improvement of people’s well-being, but it does raise concerns about whether ‘your genome’ becomes another product to be sold for profit, misused, and taken advantage of.

Several of my close relatives have died of cancer, my grandfather died of throat cancer, and three uncles have succumbed to different forms of the diseases before they reached sixty years old. So, I was very interested about what the results would tell me. I must say most of the results were totally unexpected.

23andMe provided Health information divided into four sections. These were: health risks (122 risk reports), inherited conditions (53 different ones), traits (60), and drug response (25). Depending on how much research has been done on the disease, condition, or trait, they calculate a confidence factor. If there is a lot of research done in the genetic basis of particular diseases, they mark it as four stars. If research has only been done in a very limited number of patients, they mark it with one star. For the health conditions which are marked with four stars a risk percentage is calculated, and this could be above average (higher risk), below average (lower risk), or average (typical risk).

In my report I was surprised to find that I have an above average risk for Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD). This is one of the diseases for which a lot of research has been done. Fifteen genetic markers have been identified over the years, and they show you in a plot which particular genetic markers you got and whether they are likely to increase or decrease your risk for the diseases (see the figure below). They have calculated that for men, the average risk of CHD is 46.8%; and this was calculated for men of European ethnicity. In their own words, “46.8 out of 100 men of European ethnicity will develop Coronary Heart Disease between the ages of 45 and 79”.

In my personal case, I was calculated to have 60.2% risk… meaning that 6 out of 10 people with my genetic markers will develop CHD. That is not a very positive prognosis!

Fuck genetics goddammit!

23andMe health results
My genetic markers for CHD, what is that large red bar? WHY TO ME!!!
 
For each genetic marker associated with the disease you will get an explanation of what it means, a summary of the research that it has been done specific for that marker, and you will be able to access further scientific literature in the matter. I think that is quite nice. 

In addition to CHD, I was calculated higher than average risk for a number of other health problems including type 2 diabetes, psoriasis, age-associated macular degeneration, atrial fibrillation, gout, and ulcerative colitis. I might say that my grand-mother had diabetes, and uncle suffers of gout, and on my dad’s side there has been a lot of “eye” related problems. My grandma’s sister became blind, my dad suffered retina detachment, and some of my aunts have undergone already eye surgeries for several eye-issues. Could that be related to my genetic markers for macular degeneration? Who can tell. As far as it concerns me, I should just take good care of myself and keep a healthy diet and lifestyle.

On the other hand, one of my “traits” results relates to Adiponectin levels, it says:

Adiponectin is a hormone that is secreted by fat cells. It regulates the breakdown of fats and sugars and influences the body's response to insulin. Lower levels of adiponectin may increase the odds of obesity while higher levels are thought to be beneficial and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and related conditions. Many factors are likely to influence adiponectin levels, including genetics.

I was found to have two genetic markers that have been linked to higher levels of adiponectin, according to some research performed in Asian populations. So how will this affect my chances of CHD or diabetes remains to be seen!

Besides that, I was also found to have some genetic markers that have been associated to higher risk in other diseases, but the research is not extensive enough to calculate a risk percentage. Some scary examples are basal cell carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, meningioma, and sarcoma. I also have some mutations that might increase my chances of developing bipolar disorder (funny).
  
On the positive side I was calculated to have a lower than average risk for Alzheimer’s, colorectal cancer, melanoma, rheumatoid arthritis, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, stomach cancer, type 1 diabetes, among many others.

Another interesting part of the analysis is the drug response study. I was found to have higher than average sensitivity to a drug called Warfarin, and anticoagulant. It might also be that a drug called Clopidogrel will have lower efficacy in me... and funny enough this drug is used to treat CHD. They also found that I was a fast Caffeine metabolizer and I have higher odds of becoming addicted to heroin than average: oops, I better don’t try it out then.

On the traits part of the study I was found to have higher odds of detecting the smell of asparagus metabolites in pee. I don’t often eat asparagus so I can't tell you whether this is correct or not now, but perhaps I should add some asparagus into my healthy-heart menus. I also have mutations that gives me lower odds of developing chronic hepatitis B if infected with the virus, and I also learned that I have no resistant to HIV/AIDS or noroviruses, what a bummer!

I have one mutation that according to a study of 4405 individuals of European ancestry was associated with less freckling. I have another mutation that was found to be associated with typical number of freckles and moles in Anglo-Celtic people: how about freckles in Latinos?

On a more interesting note than freckling, I also have a mutation that gives me a “slightly increased episodic memory”, mutations that reduce my sensitivity to sweaty odors (lucky?), and I have a mutation that was linked to much less efficiency at learning to avoid errors, according to an study on 26 healthy German subjects. I also have the muscle performance of Usain Bolt and if I had been a woman, I may have had smaller than average tits.

Dec 5, 2013

Journey to myself - 23andMe, ancestry composition (Part 3)


I have finally gotten the full results of my ancestry, and as a good Latino I’m an extraordinary mix of peoples from all over the world.

53% of my genome is of European Ancestry, mostly Southern Europe: likely Spain but with a fraction of Ashkenazi Jew, which is a big surprise!

21.9% Native American! I so would like to know which tribes exactly. Hopefully, one day I could narrow my search to a particular Native American group.

5.3% Sub-Saharan African, mostly from West Africa. The health results also shows that I have the mutation that makes Africans great sprinters! I might give birth to the next 100 m World Record breaker.

0.5% North African or Middle Eastern, probably from my surprising Jewish ancestry.

And last but not least 19% unassigned awesomeness.

In conclusion, a true Colombian.