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

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Radical Evolution

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

by Joel Garreau

Radical Evolution
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2005, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


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."

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...
  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood

    An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets and friendship.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.