The Techno-Human Condition

Hardcover (Print)
Rent
Rent from BN.com
$8.37
(Save 60%)
Est. Return Date: 06/15/2014
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$16.69
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $3.25
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 84%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (14) from $3.25   
  • New (5) from $12.87   
  • Used (9) from $3.25   

Overview

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Allenby (Reconstructing Earth) and Sarewitz (Frontiers of Illusion) explore the radical technological enhancement of people, or "transhumanism." Humanity today can be defined through our relationship with technology, but human evolution is nothing more than a series of enhancements; the "new-and-improved-model human brain and body," with its "fully re-engineered immune system...renders all previous models obsolete." After a quick history lesson, the authors delve into cognitive and genetic technological progress, the subjectivity problem with "progress" (the defeat of Nazism and life with The Bomb both show "progress"), and three levels of tech: a means through which a society meets its goals; a "networked" social and cultural phenomenon; and a wildly complex, constantly adapting "Earth system." The authors dismiss the binary debate of transhumanism as between the individual and the institution, and discuss the "existential challenge to society" brought be tech-aided warfare; in this context the authors see the 2003 invasion of Iraq as conflating "technological dominance and military power at Level I...with national security at Level III" and cite similar "category confusion" in America's response to terrorism. With the imperative for adaptability wired into every chapter, Allenby and Sarewitz entertaining articulate the importance of understanding the condition that has captured their imaginations and embroiled them in a "several-year running argument." (Apr.)
From the Publisher

"[A] valuable book" -- Andrew C. Revkin, Dot
Earth
- A New York Times blog

The MIT Press

" 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

The MIT Press

"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

The MIT Press

"A smart, articulate, and even witty investigation that avoids derailing into either the utopian or the dystopian. If the best is enemy of the good, The Techno-Human
Condition
is the good at its best." -- Richard Rhodes , author of the
Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The MIT Press

"The Techno-Human Condition is first a cogent description of modernity from the perspective of a technological worldview and second a prescription for our problems through a rejuvenation of key Enlightenment precepts. The authors have clearly outlined how and why we are facing a fundamental cultural crisis precipitated by 'wicked complexity,' and this book is a clarion call for radical adjustment. I predict it will become a touchstone for reorienting our thinking about techno-society and the need to reconsider how global problems are faced by industrial societies." -- Alfred I. Tauber , Professor of Philosophy and Zoltan
Kohn Professor of Medicine, Boston University

The MIT Press

"I loved this book! I literally couldn't put it down! It made me think about the broad implications of my own research. My program is now to think about the issues the authors raise, and then to re-read the book in light of those musings. I just wish I could have the authors in my living room for a few hours (or days) to probe the issues they raise." -- Wm. A. Wulf
, University Professor, University of Virginia; President Emeritus, National Academy of
Engineering

The MIT Press

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262015691
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 1/29/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Braden R. Allenby is Founding Director of the Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management, Lincoln Professor of Engineering and Ethics, and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the author of Reconstructing Earth: Technology and Environment in the Age of Humans.

Daniel Sarewitz is Professor of Science and Society at Arizona State University and the author of Frontiers of Illusion.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

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

Bibliography 211

Index 217

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)