“The Force Is Strong In My Family”

In Friday Star Wars Security blogging, I was planning to start on Saltzer and Schroeder this week. But I’m going to detour a bit into genetic privacy (and Star Wars, of course). I’m inspired in part by an interview over at GeneForum with bioethicist Insoo Hyun. Hyun is studying cloning with the South Korean team lead by Dr Hwang. It’s a fascinating issue, there are many issues raised, of ethics, of liberty, of how you fairly judge science when one line of research is hobbled. There was also Dan Solove’s article on genetic testing in the workplace.

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Now, we all know that the Republic’s medical technology is wildly different from our own. They can make Anakin a new hand out of big ugly gold stuff, but they can’t tell that Padme is carrying twins? And twenty years later, everything is falling apart, but they make Luke a natural looking replacement hand? Does war drive the Empire’s medical profession that fast?

But really, I want to think about genetic privacy, Luke and Leia’s ignorance of their heritage, and how unlikely it all really is.

The Republic was big on databases. We see several (and their limitations) in the course of the prequels. We see blood-testing technology which detects the midachlorians in Anakin’s blood. It is nearly inconceivable that the Jedi, at least, didn’t maintain a genetic database of their membership. I also can’t see the Empire issuing identification without taking a genetic sample.

I’m not quite sure where all of this leads. But in a world of billboards advertising paternity tests, I do think it raises a fascinating set of questions.