Excerpt from Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Radical Evolution

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

By Joel Garreau

Radical Evolution
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  • Hardcover: May 2005,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: May 2006,
    400 pages.

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How does she explain what the enhanced kids are like? she wonders. She knows her dear old parents have read in their newsmagazines about some of what's available. But actually dealing with some of her new classmates is decidedly strange.*

• They have amazing thinking abilities. They're not only faster and more creative than anybody she's ever met, but faster and more creative than anybody she's ever imagined.

• They have photographic memories and total recall. They can devour books in minutes._

• They're beautiful, physically. Although they don't put much of a premium on exercise, their bodies are remarkably ripped.

• They talk casually about living a very long time, perhaps being immortal. They're always discussing their "next lives." One fellow mentions how, after he makes his pile as a lawyer, he plans to be a glassblower, after which he wants to become a nanosurgeon.

• One of her new friends fell while jogging, opening up a nasty gash on her knee. Your daughter freaked, ready to rush her to the hospital. But her friend just stared at the gaping wound, focusing her mind on it. Within minutes, it simply stopped bleeding.

• This same friend has been vaccinated against pain. She never feels acute pain for long.

• These new friends are always connected to each other, sharing their thoughts no matter how far apart, with no apparent gear. They call it "silent messaging." It almost seems like telepathy.

• They have this odd habit of cocking their head in a certain way whenever they want to access information they don't yet have in their own skulls–as if waiting for a delivery to arrive wirelessly. Which it does.

• For a week or more at a time, they don't sleep. They joke about getting rid of the beds in their cramped dorm rooms, since they use them so rarely.

Her new friends are polite when she can't keep up with their conversations, as if she were handicapped. They can't help but condescend to her, however, when she protests that embedded technology is not natural for humans.

That's what they call her–"Natural." In fact, that's what they call all those who could be like them but choose not to, the way vegetarians choose to abstain from meat.

They call themselves "Enhanced." And those who have neither the education nor the money to even consider keeping up with enhancement technology? These they dismiss as simply "The Rest." The poor dears– they just keep falling farther and farther behind.

Everyone in your daughter's law school takes it as a matter of course that the law they are studying is changing to match the new realities. The law will be upgraded, The Enhanced believe, just as they have new physical and mental upgrades installed every time they go home. The technology is moving that fast.

In fact, the paper your daughter is working on over the holidays concerns whether a Natural can really enter into an informed-consent relationship with an Enhanced–even for something like a date. How would a Natural understand what makes an Enhanced tick if she doesn't understand how he is augmented?

The law is based on the Enlightenment principle that we hold a human nature in common.

Excerpted from Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau Copyright © 2005 by Joel Garreau. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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