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
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
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, flash 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 with her generation's elite in her fancy new law school. Of
course you want to hear all about it. It is her first time home in
months. But the difference between this touching tableau and similar
ones in the past is that in this scenariofactually grounded in
technologies already in development in the early years of the 21st
century changes in human nature are readily available in the
marketplace. She is competing with those with the will and wherewithal
to adopt them.
"What are your classmates like, honey?" you ask innocently.
"They're all really, really smart," she says. But then she thinks of
some of the students in contracts classthe challenging stuff of One
L fame. And she stops.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...