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Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- And What It Means to Be Human

Joel Garreau


  • Paperback
    $34.58
PUBLISHED: 9th May 2006
ISBN: 9780767915038
ANNOTATION:
In "Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the" Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny-and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country — from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven-where technology's promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it.
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  • Paperback
    $34.58
PUBLISHED: 9th May 2006
ISBN: 9780767915038
ANNOTATION:
In "Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the" Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny-and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country — from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven-where technology's promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it.

Annotation

In "Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the" Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny-and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country — from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven-where technology's promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it.

Publisher Description

Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, bestselling author Joel Garreau shows that we are at a turning point in history. At this moment we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information, and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny-and perhaps our very souls. "Radical" "Evolution" reveals that the powers of our comic-book superheroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country-from the revved-up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear in this "New York Times" Book Club premiere selection, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven-where technology's promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness, and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or, as some argue, to hell-where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our species?

Flap

In "Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the" Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny-and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country -- from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven-where technology's promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell -- where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it.

Author Biography

JOEL GARREAU is a student of culture, values and change. The author of the bestselling Edge City: Life on the New Frontier and The Nine Nations of North America, he is a reporter and editor at The Washington Post, a member of the scenario-planning organization Global Business Network, and has served as a senior fellow at George Mason University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has appeared on such national media as Good Morning America, Today, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, NBC Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He lives in Broad Run, Virginia.

Review

Advance praise for RADICAL EVOLUTION "An eye-opening exploration of how cutting-edge 21st-century technologies, in embryonic form right now, pose the stark alternatives of a real life Utopia or Brave New World... Garreau has an eye for the anecdote that throws much of this Buck Rogers technology into compelling human terms... Excellent scientific journalism on the challenges arising from a real tipping point in human relations." - Kirkus (Starred Review)

"How weird, how soon? That's the question that dominates the debates about the coming of 'post-humanity.' With his customary journalistic acumen and wry humor, Garreau has the answer: much weirder than you imagine, much sooner than you expect." -- Stewart Brand, author of The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility and The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T.

"Joel Garreau lives well ahead of the curve -- even the really big Curve he describes in these pages. One of our foremost chroniclers of change and historians of the future, he's done it again." -- Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age and The End of Nature

"Joel Garreau has hit upon something critical here, something most of us see daily and struggle to make sense of: That human technology may be advancing faster than our ability to adapt, leaving us ill-equipped to measure and manage the consequences. This is a timely, important book, and a fascinating read." -- Nathan McCall, author of Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America

"It isn't often an author gets to herald the biggest news in the last 10,000 years. But you'll get the full, uncensored, mind-blowing report here in this entertaining and surprisingly deep book." - Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control and Wired editor-at-large

"Radical Evolution" is truly outstanding. I was hooked. It reads like a thriller, informs like a textbook, engages like a love note. Garreau is, truly, an artist." - Eamonn Kelly, co-author, What's Next: Exploring the New Terrain for Business

Long Description

Taking us behind the scenes with today' s foremost researchers and pioneers, bestselling author Joel Garreau shows that we are at a turning point in history. At this moment we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information, and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny- and perhaps our very souls. "Radical" "Evolution" reveals that the powers of our comic-book superheroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country- from the revved-up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear in this "New York Times" Book Club premiere selection, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven- where technology' s promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness, and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or, as some argue, to hell- where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our species?

Review Quote

Advance praise for RADICAL EVOLUTION "An eye-opening exploration of how cutting-edge 21st-century technologies, in embryonic form right now, pose the stark alternatives of a real lifeUtopiaorBrave New World… Garreau has an eye for the anecdote that throws much of this Buck Rogers technology into compelling human terms… Excellent scientific journalism on the challenges arising from a real tipping point in human relations." ­ Kirkus (Starred Review) "How weird, how soon? That's the question that dominates the debates about the coming of 'post-humanity.' With his customary journalistic acumen and wry humor, Garreau has the answer: much weirder than you imagine, much sooner than you expect." - Stewart Brand, author ofThe Clock of the Long Now: Time and ResponsibilityandThe Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T. "Joel Garreau lives well ahead of the curve - even the really big Curve he describes in these pages. One of our foremost chroniclers of change and historians of the future, he's done it again." - Bill McKibben, author ofEnough: Staying Human in an Engineered AgeandThe End of Nature "Joel Garreau has hit upon something critical here, something most of us see daily and struggle to make sense of: That human technology may be advancing faster than our ability to adapt, leaving us ill-equipped to measure and manage the consequences. This is a timely, important book, and a fascinating read." - Nathan McCall, author ofMakes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America "It isn't often an author gets to herald the biggest news in the last 10,000 years. But you'll get the full, uncensored, mind-blowing report here in this entertaining and surprisingly deep book." - Kevin Kelly, author ofOut of Controland Wired editor-at-large "Radical Evolution" is truly outstanding. I was hooked. It reads like a thriller, informs like a textbook, engages like a love note. Garreau is, truly, an artist." - Eamonn Kelly, co-author,What's Next: Exploring the New Terrain for Business From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt from Book

Chapter One Prologue The Future of Human Nature Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood. -Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn This book can''t begin with the tale of the telekinetic monkey. That certainly comes as a surprise. After all, how often does someone writing nonFiction get to lead with a monkey who can move objects with her thoughts? If you lunge at this opportunity, however, the story comes out all wrong. It sounds like science Fiction, for one thing, even though the monkey-a cute little critter named Belle-is completely real and scampering at Duke University. This gulf between what engineers are actually creating today and what ordinary readers might Find believable is signiFicant. It is the First challenge to making sense of this world unfolding before us, in which we face the biggest change in tens of thousands of years in what it means to be human. This book aims at letting a general audience in on the vast changes that right now are reshaping our selves, our children and our relationships. Helping people recognize new patterns in their lives, however, is no small trick, as I''ve discovered over time. For example, there''s the problem you encounter when asking people what they''d do if offered the chance to live for a very long time-150 years or more. Nine out of 10 boggle at this thought. Many actually recoil. You press on. Engineers are working on ways to allow you to spend all that time with great physical vitality-perhaps even comparable to that of today''s 35-year-olds. How would you react if that opportunity came to market? There''s a question that gets people thinking, but you can tell it is still quite a stretch. We live in remarkable times. Who could have imagined at the end of the 20th century that a human augmentation substance that does what Viagra does would sponsor the NBC Nightly News ? Discussing this sort of change, however, can be hard. Take the United States Department of Defense program to create the "metabolically dominant soldier." In one small part of that agenda, researchers hope to allow warriors to run at Olympic sprint speeds for 15 minutes on one breath of air. It might be indisputably true that human bodies process oxygen with great inefFiciency, and this may be a solvable problem, and your taxpayer dollars unquestionably are being spent trying to remedy this oversight on the part of evolution. Nonetheless, it takes effort to hold some readers with this report. It just sounds too weird. One Fine spring evening, I found myself at a little table outside a San Francisco laundry, pondering how to bridge this divide between the real and the credible. The laundry, called Star Wash, is on a lovely but quite ordinary street. In the window there is an American ag and a sign that tastefully spells out "God Bless America" in red, white and blue lights. It is run by a woman named Olga, from Guatemala City. I was traveling, interviewing the people who are creating the vastly enhanced human abilities that Radical Evolution discusses, and was waiting for my shirts to be Finished. Most of the prospective readers of this book, it occurred to me, are probably like Olga. They don''t care about gee-whiz technology. Why should they? Neither do I, truth be told. What they care about is what it means to be human, what it means to have relationships, what it means to live life, to have loves, or to tell lies. If you want to engage such people, you have to tell a story about culture and values-who we are, how we got that way, where we''re headed and what makes us tick. That''s what has always interested me; it''s what my reporting has always been about. The gee-whiz technology is just a window through which to gaze upon human nature. Four interrelated, intertwining technologies are cranking up to modify human nature. Call them the GRIN technologies-the genetic, robotic, information and nano processes. These four advances are intermingling and feeding on one another, and they are collectively creating a curve of change unlike anything we humans have ever seen. Already, enhanced people walk among us. You can see it most clearly wherever you Find the keenest competition. Sport is a good example. "The current doping agony," says John Hoberman, a University of Texas authority on performance drugs, "is a kind of very confused referendum on the future of human enhancement." Extreme pharmacological sport did not begin or end with East Germany. Some athletes today look grotesque. Curt Schilling, the All-Star pitcher, in 2002 talked to Sports Illustrated about the major leagues. "Guys out there look like Mr. Potato Head, with a head and arms and six or seven body parts that just don''t look right." Competitive bodybuilding is already divided into tested shows (i.e., drug free) versus untested shows (anything goes).That''s merely the beginning. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania who created genetically modiFied "mighty mice" have been deluged by calls from athletes and coaches who want to try this technology themselves. These mice are shockingly large and muscular. They are built like steers, with massive haunches and necks wider than their heads. Could such gene doping work in humans-assuming it isn''t already? "Oh yeah, it''s easy," H. Lee Sweeney, chairman of Penn''s Department of Physiology, told The New York Times . "Anyone who can clone a gene and work with cells could do it. It''s not a mystery....You could change the endurance of the muscle or modulate the speed-all the performance characteristics. All the biology is there. If someone said, ''Here''s $10 million-I want you to do everything you can think of in terms of sports,'' you could get pretty imaginative." Then there''s the military. Remember the comic-book superheroes of the 1930s and 1940s, from Superman to Wonder Woman? Most of their superpowers right now either exist or are in engineering. If you can watch a car chase in Afghanistan with a Predator, you''ve effectively got telescopic vision. If you can Figure out what''s inside a cave by peering into the earth with a seismic ground pinger, you''ve got X-ray vision. Want super strength? At the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. Army has got a functioning prototype exoskeleton suit that allows a soldier to carry 180 pounds as if it were only 4.4 pounds. At Natick Labs in Massachusetts, the U.S. Army imagines that such an exoskeleton suit may ultimately allow soldiers to leap tall buildings with a single bound. "My thesis is that in just 20 years the boundary between fantasy and reality will be rent asunder," writes Rodney Brooks, director of the ArtiFicial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Just Five years from now that boundary will be breached in ways that are as unimaginable to most people today as daily use of the World Wide Web was 10 years ago." We are at an inection point in history. For all previous millennia, our technologies have been aimed outward, to control our environment. Starting with Fire and clothes, we looked for ways to ward off the elements. With the development of agriculture we controlled our food supply. In cities we sought safety. Telephones and airplanes collapsed distance. Antibiotics kept death-dealing microbes at bay. Now, however, we have started a wholesale process of aiming our technologies inward. Now our technologies have started to merge with our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny and perhaps our souls. Serious people have embarked on changing humans so much that they call it a new kind of engineered evolution- one that we direct for ourselves. "The next frontier," says Gregory Stock, director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at the UCLA School of Medicine, "is our own selves." The people you will meet in Radical Evolution are testing these fundamental hypotheses: We are riding a curve of exponential change. This change is unprecedented in human history. * It is transforming no less than human nature. This isn''t Fiction. You can see the outlines of this reality in the headlines now. You''re going to see a lot more of it in just the next few years- certainly within your prospective lifetime. We have been attempting to transcend the limits of human nature for a very long time. We''ve tried Socratic reasoning and Buddhist enlightenment and Christian sanctiFication and Cartesian logic and the New Soviet Man. Our successes have ranged from mixed to limited, at best. Nonetheless, we are pressing forward, attempting once again to improve not just our world but our very selves. Who knows? Maybe this time we''ll get it right. In 1913, U.S. government ofFicials prosecuted Lee De Forest for telling investors that his company, RCA, would soon be able to transmit the human voice across the Atlantic Ocean. This claim was so preposterous, prosecutors asserted, that he was obviously swindling potential investors. He was ultimately released, but not before being lectured by the judge to stop making any more fraudulent claims. With this legal reasoning in mind, ash forward a decade and a half from today. Look at the girl who today is your second-grade daughter. Fifteen years from now, she is just home for the holidays. You were so proud of her when she not only put herself through Ohio State but graduated summa cum laude. Now she has taken on her most formidable challenge yet, competing

Product Details

Author
Joel Garreau
Short Title
RADICAL EVOLUTION
Pages
384
Publisher
Broadway Books
Language
English
ISBN-10
0767915038
ISBN-13
9780767915038
Media
Book
Format
Paperback
Illustrations
Yes
Year
2006
Publication Date
2006-05-31
Country of Publication
United States
Subtitle
The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human
Audience
General/Trade