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In this latest version of humanity, we are equipped with a fully re-engineered immune system; the latest set of cultural assumptions about gender, ethnicity, and sexuality; and a suite of customized enhancements, including artificial joints, neurochemical mood modulators, and performance-boosting hormones. In The Techno-Human Condition, Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz explore what it means to be human in an era of incomprehensible technological complexity and change. They argue that if we are to have any prospect of managing that complexity, we will need to escape the shackles of current assumptions about rationality, progress, and certainty, even as we maintain a commitment to fundamental human values.
Humans have been co-evolving with their technologies since the dawn of prehistory, when tool making and meat eating co-evolved with brain development and social complexity. What is different now is that we have moved beyond external technological interventions to transform ourselves from the inside out—even as we also remake the Earth system itself. Coping with this new reality, say Allenby and Sarewitz, means liberating ourselves from such categories as Œhuman,Œ Œtechnological,Œ and ŒnaturalŒ to embrace a new techno-human relationship. Describing the- terms of this relationship, and exploring sociotechnical systems ranging from railroads to modern military technology, Allenby and Sarewitz ultimately locate individual authenticity in the quest for a new humility in the face of the rapidly disappearing moorings of the Enlightenment.
" The Techno-Human Condition will infuriate some,be dismissed out-of-hand by a few, but will unsettle almost all readers. The reason is, that while Allenby & Sarewitz's analysis of current problem solving is a bitter pill to swallow, there is an underlying understanding that their approach is not only correct but also essential to embrace. The book is a fast-paced, easy read.
I couldn't put it down." — Leonardo
"An important, provocative, and wide-ranging volume on the role of technology in our rapidly changing Anthropocene-era world. Essential reading for anyone interested in Methods to Shape the Future, World Futures, Security,Sustainability, and science/technology in general... a stimulating and timely book." — Michael Marien, Global Foresight Books
Preface and Acknowledgments ix
1 What a Long, Transhuman Trip It Has Already Been 1
2 In the Cause-and-Effect Zone 15
3 Level I and II Technology: Effectiveness, Progress, and Complexity 31
4 Level III Technology: Radical Contingency in Earth Systems 63
5 Individuality and Incomprehensibility 87
6 Complexity, Coherence, Contingency 107
7 Killer Apps 127
8 In Front of Our Nose 159
9 Epilogue: The Museum of Human Frailty 191