I used to be a big believer in the enormous potential of genomics, and each of my two previous books, Fantastic Voyage and TRANSCEND: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, had chapters devoted to this topic. The relevant chapter in the earlier book, Fantastic Voyage, published in 2004, was titled “The Promise of Genomics.” My co-author in these books, Ray Kurzweil, is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost inventors and futurists, and he has made predictions for what is likely to occur in the future in the field of genomics . Yet, these days I find that I am feeling far less confident at least for the near term about the near term prospects for this “promise.”
“The Promise of Genomics” chapter in Fantastic Voyage contains a sidebar titled "Life as a Game of Cards” and in my public lectures on the topic, I would often display a slide showing playing cards from the gambling game of blackjack to emphasize this message. “Until quite recently you have been forced to play this card game of life almost completely in the dark, unable to look at the cards you’ve been dealt… almost no one has ever had access to precise information regarding his or her own specific genetic code.” We made the case that knowing one’s genetic makeup — what genes you carry — would allow an individual to make better lifestyle choices so that you can override your “bad genes” and emphasize the expression of “good genes."