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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

Name:

The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

One More Word Regarding "More Than Human" -- Bio, Cyber, Long, Noo, Psych, Soc, Rev, Tech, $$$

Here's a further comment from More Than Human's author Ramez Naam on why he wrote his book...



Why I Wrote This Book

In 1999, a friend suggested to me that within a few decades we'd have Matrix-esque implants in our brains that would, among other things, allow us to interact in a completely believable virtual reality and beam our thoughts instantly to one another. I pooh-pooh'ed the idea. The brain and body are much too complex to manipulate in that way, or so I thought.

That same year a scientist named Phil Kennedy in Atlanta implanted an electrode into the brain of a paralyzed patient named Johnny Ray - a stroke victim who was completely unable to move, speak, or feed himself. The electrode monitored the activity of just a few neurons inside the patients brain. But through it Johnny was able to learn to control a computer - moving a cursor around on a screen and typing out messages.

Later that year, Joe Tsien at Princeton made the cover of Time Magazine with his Doogie mice - genetically engineered mice that could learn at astounding speeds, up to five times as fast as genetically normal mice.

And that year is also when I learned of the pioneering longevity research of scientists like Tom Johnston at Colorado, who had genetically altered nematode worms to more than double their lifespan and preserve youthful health into old age. Suddenly, it seemed, science was resembling science fiction.

At the same time, there were a number of voices raised in concern over these technologies. What does it mean to extend our lives, boost our mental abilities, or integrate our minds with computers? Would we still be human? What would happen to society? To equality? To the meaning of life?

So I wrote this book to cover these two, interrelated topics:

1)The science of human enhancement - what's actually happening in the labs and what that could lead to in the near future.

2)The ethics, social consequences, and policy challenges of human enhancement. Basically, what we should or shouldn't do with this technology.

More Than Human is an optimistic book, but it's a cautious optimism. Along the way it looks at issues like the effect of longer lives on overpopulation, on socio-economic stratification and whether these technologies would help the rich pull further away from the poor, and at issues like human identity, and whether we could even call ourselves human after changing ourselves in such ways.

It's not a utopian book. There can be no doubt that using biotechnology to alter the human mind, body, and lifespan will lead to problems. But the conclusion I come to in the book is that these technologies will solve more problems than they create. And that the alternative - to prohibit their use - will create many more problems than it will solve.



And here's the More Than Human link again, for anyone burning with curiosity:




Future Imperative

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