ISBN-10:
0262015692
ISBN-13:
9780262015691
Pub. Date:
01/29/2010
Publisher:
MIT Press
The Techno-Human Condition

The Techno-Human Condition

by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel Sarewitz
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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 "human," "technological," and "natural" 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262015691
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 01/29/2010
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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 and Codirector of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University. and the author of Frontiers of Illusion.

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

What People are Saying About This

Richard Rhodes

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.

Endorsement

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

From the Publisher

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 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

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

Wm. A. Wulf

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.

Alfred I. Tauber

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.

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