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A tidal wave of inevitable data’: Assetization, valorizing and value obscuring in the consumer genetics industry

Title
A tidal wave of inevitable data’: Assetization, valorizing and value obscuring in the consumer genetics industry
Speaker(s)
Speaker: Professor Susi Geiger # University College Dublin; Hosted by: Sociology # University of Edinburgh
Hosted by
Introduced by
Date and Time
29th Nov 2017 11:00 - 29th Nov 2017 12:00
Location
Screening Room G.04, 50 George Square
URL
http://www.sociology.ed.ac.uk/events2/seminar_series/2017_2018/a_tidal_wave_of_inevitable_data_assetization,_valorizing_and_value_obscuring_in_the_consumer_genetics_industry

With this paper, we join into recent discussions on multi-sided business models at the intersection between the healthcare and technology start-up worlds. We particularly focus on the financial and bio-value they create. Bio-value, in the context of our paper, is the valorization of the consumer’s genetic self that consumer genomics companies have been contributing to by portraying one’s genome as a font of empowerment, altruism, belonging and knowledge. For consumer genomics firms, there is a precarious balance to strike: firms are reliant on consumers realizing the bio-value but not the financial value of their own genetic information, as the ownership and use – or as we will call it, assetization - of this information is the basis of firms’ financial valorization on venture capital markets. We argue that if these companies’ business models consist of assetizing the pool of genetic information that they assemble, then part of their work has to revolve around obscuring the value of this asset as well as any uncertainties associated with it to the consumer. This paper thus critically examines the entanglements between financial and use value of consumer genomics data and the balancing activities of valorizing and value-obscuring that companies engage in when assetizing this information in the bio-economy. More broadly, we contribute to exploring the envisaging and creation of alternative realities - utopias for some, dystopias for others - in healthcare markets.

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