Yes or No?
If your best friend finds out that your husband, the love of your life and father of your three beloved children is having an affair, would you want him/her to tell you?
If big data could tell you the number of criminals, sex offenders or gun owners in your neighbourhood, would you want to know?
If a robotic swab or a light could highlight to you the bacterial cultures on your phone, wallet, keyboard, door knob, bathroom, pillow, at any given time, would you want to know?
If giant screens, much like the ones you could see on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, could give you regular updates on number of births and deaths, by cause of death, per country across the globe, would you look at it?
If a fortune-teller could predict the critical milestones in your life and the life of your loved ones, would you want to know?
If a fly on the wall could tell you what your friends, colleagues, family, or people on the street, say about you behind your back, would you ask the fly to tell you?
First, answer these questions based on the assumption that all the predictions and information are 100% accurate.
Now, imagine, there is a 10% chance that they could be wrong. What if it goes up to 50%? 70%?
Life and Death
OK, what if it is about your health? What if your genome analysis, could outline your genetic predispositions to various illnesses, would you send a sample of your spit/hair?
What if you were an otherwise seemingly healthy young woman and a genetic test (BRCA 1/2 gene) told you your risk of having breast cancer is 45-65% (compared to risk of 12% for the general population) and your risk of having ovarian cancer is 11-17% (compared to risk of 1.4% for the general population (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA).
What if a blood test could tell you with 90% accuracy if you or your loved ones will develop Alzheimer’s disease within three years? (http://www.businessinsider.com/a-new-blood-test-predicts-alzheimers-with-90-accuracy-2014-3). Would you take it? What if you knew there was (at least not until further notice) no cure for Alzheimer’s? (http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2014/03/12/can-a-new-test-to-identify-the-likelihood-of-alzheimers-lead-to-better-treatment/)
My Decision Tree:
Here’s my position: I like to make informed decisions about my life and take actions that will enable me to live a healthy, happy, and productive life, to experience all that nature and people have to offer, and to be a value-add member of my society.
In the decision tree below, I’ve come up with a series of decisions that would help me determine whether or not I would answer yes or no to the questions above, whether ignorance would be bliss.
I know this is too simplified, and I know when such complex decisions such as matters of love and life are at hand, a simple a decision tree may not suffice. I also know that sometimes we have the decision made for us, unfortunately, given lack of equality. For example the test might be too expensive for us to afford or simply not available to us. Or maybe we don’t even know that we can obtain the information in the first place. Or maybe the cost of taking actions (emotional, financial or otherwise) is too high for us.
My intention is not oversimplify, but to give insight as to how (I think) I would start to make such decisions, and maybe help you answer the questions above.
What do you think? Is ignorance bliss? Would you wanna know?
PS. Curious to find out my answers to the questions above? Stay tuned for upcoming blogs in which I will answer some of them.