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"Passionate, succinct, chilling, closely argued, sometimes hilarious, touchingly well-intentioned, and essential." Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books
Nearly fifteen years ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter and endanger our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to an array of technologies that could change our relationship not with the rest of nature but with ourselves. He explores the frontiers of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnologyall of which we are approaching with astonishing speedand shows that each threatens to take us past a point of no return. We now stand, in Michael Pollan's words, "on a moral and existential threshold," poised between the human past and a post-human future. McKibben offers a celebration of what it means to be human, and a warning that we risk the loss of all meaning if we step across the threshold. Instantly acclaimed for its passion and insight, this wise and eloquent book argues that we cannot forever grow in reach and powerthat we must at last learn how to say, "Enough."
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.65(d)|
About the Author
Bill McKibben writes regularly for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Natural History, The New Republic, and many other publications. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 after being excerpted in The New Yorker and was a national bestseller. His other books include The Age of Missing Information, Maybe One, and Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously. He lives with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and daughter in Vermont.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of the most thoughtful, and sobering, books I've ever read. McKibben takes a deep, serious and well-researched look at the implications of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence, and the post-human future he sees is chilling. Whether you are a technophobe or a technophile, this book is a must-read. If McKibben is right, the future will be here sooner than we think. The question is, will humanity as we know it be a part of it? Robert Adler, author of _Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome_ and _Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation_.
Well, Bill McKibben is probably not going to join the Ayn Rand workgroup. In this little-noticed but important book, McKibben discusses the potential dark side of advanced technologies such as genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology. As opposed to some critics, he concentrates not on the physical danger (e.g. robots becoming smarter than us and taking over), but the threat to our humanness and freedom. For example, in the coming years parents may be able to increase the intelligence of their children through germline enhancements. This choice, McKibben asserts, actually reduces choice because all parents will be forced to make these enhancements or have less intelligent children. This illustrates the faulty logic that permeates his thinking. Parents will make this choice ¿ assuming the germline engineering is safe ¿ because it results in a benefit for their child. Isn¿t that what parents are supposed to do? If McKibben had his way, the government would eliminate this choice. Following his convoluted logic, the elimination of choice actually enhances choice. Although McKibben confuses his passion with logic, he does raise important issues. These technologies have significant risks and benefits; it¿s critical to have a thorough debate now, because they are emerging so rapidly. Properly managed, we can utilize them safely, even if we bumble from time to time. I recommend this book, even if you are on the other side of this issue. McKibben provides a good overview of the technologies and then explains his concerns. You may disagree, but his ideas get the juices going and make you think.