More Than Human
More Than Human
Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement
Broadway Books, Hardcover, 9780767918435, 288pp.
Publication Date: March 8, 2005
What if you could be smarter, stronger, and have a better memory just by taking a pill?
What if we could alter our genes to cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s?
What if we could halt or even reverse the human aging process?
What if we could communicate with each other simply by thinking about it?
These questions were once the stuff of science fiction. Today, advances in biotechnology have shown that they’re plausible, even likely to be accomplished in the near future. In labs around the world, researchers looking for ways to help the sick and injured have stumbled onto techniques that enhance healthy animals—making them stronger, faster, smarter, and longer-lived—in some cases, even connecting their minds to robots and computers across the Internet. Now science is on the verge of applying this knowledge to healthy men and women, allowing us to alter humanity in ways we’d previously only dreamed possible. The same research that could cure Alzheimer’s is leading to drugs and genetic techniques that could boost human intelligence. The techniques being developed to stave off heart disease and cancer have the potential to slow or even reverse human aging. And brain implants that restore motion to the paralyzed and sight to the blind are already allowing a small set of patients to control robots and computers simply by thinking about it.
Not everyone welcomes this scientific progress. Cries of “against nature” arise from skeptics even as scientists break new ground at an astounding pace. Across the political spectrum, the debate roils: Should we embrace the power to alter our minds and bodies, or should we restrict it?
Distilling the most radical accomplishments being made in labs worldwide, including gene therapy, genetic engineering, stem cell research, life extension, brain-computer interfaces, and cloning, More Than Human offers an exciting tour of the impact biotechnology will have on our lives. Throughout this remarkable trip, author Ramez Naam shares an impassioned vision for the future with revealing insight into the ethical dilemmas posed by twenty-first-century science.
Encouraging us to celebrate rather than fear these innovations, Naam incisively separates fact from myth, arguing that these much-maligned technologies have the power to transform the human race for the better, so long as individuals and families are left free to decide how and if to use them.
If you’ve ever wondered about the boundaries of humanity, More Than Human offers a vision of a world where we use our knowledge to improve ourselves, unhindered by the fear of change.
RAMEZ NAAM helped develop two of the most widely used pieces of software in the world—Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook. He serves as an advisor to several technology associations and speaks frequently at technology and futures conferences. He lives in Seattle.
Advance Praise for More Than Human
“Ramez Naam provides a reliable and informed cook’s tour of the world we might choose if we decide that we should fast-forward evolution. I disagree with virtually all his enthusiasms, but I think he has made his case cogently and well.” —Bill McKibben, author Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age
“More Than Human is excellent—passionate yet balanced, clearly written and rich with fascinating details. A wonderful overview of a topic that will dominate the twenty-first century.” —Greg Bear, author of Dead Lines and Darwin’s Children
“Sixty years ago, human beings gave digital computers the ability to modify their own coded instructions—sparking a revolution that has now given us the ability to modify our own coded instructions, promising revolutions even more extreme. Whether for, against, or undecided about genetic modification of human beings, you should read this book—a
bold, compelling look at what lies ahead.” —George Dyson, author of Darwin Among the Machines
“More Than Human is one of those rare books that is both a delightful read and an important statement. You’ll relish the fascinating stories of physical and mental enhancement that Naam has assembled here, but you’ll also come away with a new sense of wonder at the human drive for pushing at the boundaries of what it means to be human. No one interested in the future intersections of science, technology, and
medicine can afford to miss this book.” —Steven Johnson, author of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
“Ramez Naam’s look at the coming of human enhancement is a major contribution; he shows convincingly that the conceptual wall between therapy and enhancement is fast crumbling.” —Gregory Stock, author of Redesigning Humans