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Comment Re:Slightly more technical (Score 1) 111

They're not 100% perfect, but they're much much much more accurate than they need to be for this sort of analysis.

For example; I picked out a sample mostly at random from an internal dataset. In this shallow sample of 4 million reads, over 90% of reads have all 36 bases with quality > 30. (Quality is in Phred score: q30 = the sequencer estimates a 99.9% chance that this base is read correctly). Even if 3-4 bases are incorrect, it's still usually possible to map the read to the genome with high confidence (even if the aligner discards the base-quality information!). This combines with the fact that you'll have multiple reads mapping to each target, so even if several reads are mapped to the wrong target, the right calls will be made. Finally, I'm sure there's some heuristic for "we found 98% of the expected targets for E. xamplis, and trace amounts of T. atoeba, we're pretty sure it's the former."

The false positive rate is obviously not zero - it's irresponsible of the article to claim that. But it's much lower than other competing methods, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if in their testing they found 0 false positives.

Comment Slightly more technical (Score 5, Informative) 111

In slightly more technical terms, they've designed a system that selectively targets & amplifies ~2 million DNA sites; chosen from the genomes of all known infectious viruses. The scientists basically apply this assay to the infected cells (I'm assuming they take a blood sample or something), leaving them with DNA that matches those targets. Then, they run those DNA fragments through a sequencer, and see what they got. From there, they can deduce which virus was present in the original sample.

Comment Re:May not act as expected (Score 1) 79

Only if "forget everything about me" includes the fact that it's been asked to forget you. I can see cases where people can say "Write down in your book never to store information about me" and have that be useful. Yes, the datapoint that you requested to be forgotten is not of no value, but it's likely better than them remembering what kind of weird porn you're into.

Alternately, it's not a hassle to keep up this loop if John Doe has a passive signal to the robot to keep it from verbally asking him each time - say, a little card on the table, or a DoNotTrack bit set in his browser.

Comment Re:Still need a base URL "player" (Score 1) 138

And even if they aren't malicious enough to hack you, it's not a hard decision for google to say "Oops, we no longer support URLs longer than 200 characters," or just drop everything after the anchor tag, so they aren't stuck storing some million cat gifs in their database.

Comment Re:So much patting on the back (Score 1) 591

"You say that a zygote isn't a child. But I ask: if we kill all the zygotes will there be any children in a few months?"

Of course there will, unless you're planning on slaughtering all existing children. Children generally remain children for about 12 years, which is much longer than a few months.

And yes, if we destroy every single existing acorn/minnow/egg/child (wow), all of those things will be around in the 30-200 year time frame you mention. Oak trees produce acorns every year, as do chickens with eggs, and people (can) with children. If you killed every single zygote that was conceived for the next twenty years, we'd still have people 200 years from now.

Even your straw men don't make the point you think they do.

Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine. -- Andy Warhol