Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement
I don’t know if it’s the sheer number of books that I’ve read on human enhancement recently or what, but the contents of this book seem to have blended with every other thing about the subject.
Ramez Naam is an optimist about the future of biological enhancement, but he calls himself a “cautious optimist.” He believes that upcoming scientific breakthroughs will do more harm than good. However, we must account for ethics and social needs first.
As recently as 1999, when a friend told him about future technology, he waved it off as if it was just crazy sci-fiction-nerd talk. A breakthrough came that year when Phil Kennedy implanted an electrode into a paralyzed patient’s brain that allowed the patient to move a cursor on a computer. The patient moved the cursor by thought alone.
This was one of many sci-fi-like phenomena that happened in that year. Suddenly, the world was starting to change.
Naam’s report on advancements and social concerns brings to light what could actually be happening in the decades to come and how we should prepare for it. He writes about designer babies, Methuselah’s genes, and choosing our minds and bodies.
The book is short though. It doesn’t cover as much ground as it needs for the many subjects he brings into the discussion. However, it does offer somewhat of an introductory to biological enhancement.
What the author does offer is good, rational reasoning to seeing this thing through. He makes logical claims as to why we need the science of the future, and backs them up with solid examples. He makes his case socially and ethically, allowing for his optimistic view of the coming years.
Naam writes in an easy, free-flowing prose that will keep you interested from start to finish. Just don’t look for a comprehensive look at the future. It will serve as a good starter book for anyone interested in reading about human enhancement. But, if you’re like me, and have read quite a bit on the subject matter, then you might want something a little more in-depth.