Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a New Global Superorganism

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In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being - a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor; it is an actual living creature, which he has named "Metaman," meaning "beyond ...
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Overview

In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being - a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor; it is an actual living creature, which he has named "Metaman," meaning "beyond and transcending humans." This name acknowledges humanity's key role in the superorganism but also stresses that Metaman is more than humanity alone. Our increasing reliance on new technologies has joined us inextricably to our technology, while at the same time it has bound humanity together. The examples are all around us: our medical equipment and drugs, high-yield crop strains, superhighways, power and telecommunications networks. All these are part of Metaman. The implications of the new global culture and economy, the evolution of machine intelligence, and the advent of genetic engineering are vast. Through Metaman, life on earth is entering a new phase in its evolution, says Stock. Understanding Metaman tells us that the environmental problems of today are not carrying humanity toward destruction; that war between major powers is unlikely ever to occur again; that technology is not in conflict with the "natural" realm but is an extension of it; and that the very nature of human existence is being redefined, to our benefit. Metaman offers a profoundly hopeful vision of humanity's future. Stock doesn't ignore present-day problems but examines them from a completely new perspective, convincingly arguing that these are flee "birth pains" of Metaman. This is one of those rare books that can change the way we look at ourselves.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this supremely optimistic futuristic survey, Stock ( The Book of Questions ) argues that a symbiotic union of smart machines and humans, combined with increasingly interdependent global communications, trade and travel, is coalescing civilization into ``Metaman,'' a planetary superorganism. Constantly monitoring itself and its environment, Metaman is responding, albeit slowly, to global warming, overpopulation, the need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and other crises. Combining sweeping generalizations and intelligent forecasts, Stock predicts an expansive future for Metaman, with advances in genetic engineering, computers, space exploration and medicine, possibly including significantly lengthened life spans. Illustrated with photographs and drawings, this wide-angled report fails to convince the reader that Metaman is anything more than a metaphor. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671707231
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Pages: 320

Table of Contents

Preface 13
The Nature of Metaman 17
1 Planetary Superorganism: Glimpses of a Promising Future 19
2 The Birth of Metaman: Extending Life's Patterns 37
3 A Fusion of Technology and Biology: The Nonhuman Constituents of Metaman 53
4 Inner Workings Explored: Physiology of the Superorganism 68
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