Bringing up the bio-datafied child: Scientific and ethical controversies over computational biology in education

Ben Williamson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scientific advances in genetic analysis have been made possible in recent years by technical developments in computational biology, or bioinformatics. Bioinformatics has opened up the human genome to diverse analyses involving automated laboratory hardware and machine learning algorithms and software. As part of an emerging field of social genomics, recent educational genetics studies using big data have begun to raise challenging findings linking DNA to predicted life outcomes. Bioinformatic technologies and techniques including ‘genome-wide association’ and ‘polygenic scoring’ are producing new kinds of genetic biodata and expert knowledge for rethinking the upbringing and education of children. This article takes as an empirical opening a recent epistemic and ethical controversy over the use of biodata to make genetic predictions about educational, socio-economic and life outcomes, detailing the forms of expert knowledge and technologies involved these predictions, and exploring the social and ethical implications of data-intensive bioinformatics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEthics and Education
Early online date15 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • behavioural genetics
  • big data
  • bioinformatics
  • biology
  • genoeconomics
  • sociogenomics

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