Expanding the “Genetic Marketing” idea

For those of you who might be interested in the concept I floated in my post last month “So it looks like marketing might be science after all” you can download a short summary of my thoughts on this subject here.  Feel free to come back and add your own thoughts and comments or join the discussion on LinkedIn.com. under “Genetic Marketing”.


2 responses to “Expanding the “Genetic Marketing” idea

  1. Genetic marketing and genetic profiling: This reminds me of a science fiction story I read some years ago by Isaac Asimov in which he imagined a world where everyone was scanned at the age of 8 (I think) to work out how their brain was developing and then scanned again at the age of 17 and then educated by having the knowledge to do one specific job downloaded into their brain. The job they were ‘taught’ to do depended on the profile that was derived from their brain scan. There was one boy who was told at the age of 17 that he couldn’t be educated because his brain didn’t fit any pattern. He was then taken to a secret research facility where he studied ‘the old way’ and was given the job of writing educational materials that were downloaded into peoples’ brains because he was an ‘original thinker’.

    The more I think about this, the more questions I have.

    Firstly: the old saying about how 75% of the jobs we will do in the next 5 years don’t even exist yet seems to be panning out remarkably well. How will the HR people of the future be able to predict what jobs people will be good for if development continues at the same pace.

    Secondly: if genetic profiling is widely used for these purposes, how about the wild cards that history seems to throw at us? Einstein’s maths teacher, if I remember rightly, dismissed him as having no talent for mathematics what so ever. The Soviet generals who won their part of World War II were for the most part the children of farm labourers, since the aristocrats and army officers of the Tsarist armies had gone to the gulags. Isaac Asimov raised the same question in his “Foundation Trilogy” series in which a state was established based on a science that looked like a combination of sociology and economics on steroids. This state was threatened by a genetic mutant whose rise could not be predicted.

    My third question is getting a bit more philosophical. The idea of genetic marketing and profiling is a creation of the West. We are assuming that the western secular technology based consumer society will continue and prosper. I’m sure the Romans made similar assumptions, I know that many people in the former Soviet Union did right up to the mid 1980s. In terms of the environment, the western way of life will be unsustainable if an extra billion Chinese and an extra billion Indians try to live the same way. The Earth does not have the resources. The western secular technology based consumer society largely ignores the influence and impact of religion. While religious observance is declining in the west, as is population growth, in the rest of the world, populations are still on the rise despite the lack of technology, as is the number of people practicing religion. In many cases, religion opposes many of the basic precepts of the western secular technology based consumer society. Even in the United States, religious leaders insist that creationism is taught as a theory of the origins of human life that is equal in status to evolution. The US anti abortion lobby has made access to abortion so difficult and dangerous that there are entire states in the US where no one will establish a clinic for fear of intimidation and violence. Coming back to genetic marketing, how will the world’s religions react to this? Will they see it is one more humiliation inflicted on them by the godless/infidel scientists of the West? How will the ecological and environmental pressure groups react? A large part of the world finds the idea of genetically modified food utterly repulsive? How will they react to the idea of genetically modified people?

    I believe that the introduction of this kind of marketing will run into a lot more opposition than anticipated and that the negative reactions it provokes could make an even larger segment of the world’s population question the West’s right to its pre eminent position in the world today.

    Best wishes and good luck to all of us – we live in interesting times.


  2. Phil

    Another thought popped into my brain on this one.

    If corporate sponsors could incorporate substances into food to influence people’s preferences for buying products, why couldn’t they do the same for political candidates in an election?

    Does that mean that election observers such as the OSCE would have to take food samples before and during the electoral processes? Does that mean that the observers would have to eat special food that was certified as not containing these substances to ensure that their judgements could be trusted?

    Taking this even further, terrorism is a form of psychological warfare. (hence the name) If Al Qaeda, for example, put something in the water supply that didn’t kill anybody at all but influenced people’s behaviour in certain ways, what crime would they be tried for, especially if the modified behaviour also didn’t lead to any deaths?

    Worth a thought


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