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.
Washington Post reporter Garreau takes readers on a cross-country trip into the future as he interviews scientists and other thinkers grappling with the implications of our newfound and, to some, frightening knowledge of the genome. Highlighting what he calls "the Curve" the rate of exponential change in technology Garreau (Edge City: Life on the New Frontier) breaks the central part of his book into four scenarios. In "Heaven," genetic engineering will make us stronger and healthier, help us live longer and metabolize our food more efficiently. "Hell" resembles the island of Dr. Moreau: science runs amok, we cripple the genome of our food supplies, and babies are born with unexpected deformities instead of the improved characteristics promised by gene therapies. The "Prevail" scenario might also be called Muddling Through: even if we make a mistake now and then, we will figure out how to slow potentially harmful changes and speed up potentially beneficial ones. Last, "Transcend" considers that humans might conquer the difficulties that lie ahead and emerge into a new age beyond our wildest dreams. Science buffs fascinated by the leading edges of societal and technological change and readers concerned by the ethical issues that change presents will find much to ponder in Garreau's nonjudgmentallook into our possible futures