« August 2005 |

September 07, 2005

Radical Evolution

Radical Evolution: The Promics and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies - and What It Means to Be Human, by Joel Garreau

Garreau, a journalist, author, and the editor of cultural revolution reporting at the Washington Post, writes about the trend of technology towards shaping human evolution and the potential scenarios radical technological advancement may result in.

His book reads very much like a human interest, magazine cover piece - focusing on the various personalities who write and promote various perspectives on how radical scientific and medical development (such as genetic engineering and anti-aging)might change human bodies and human society, and clearly intended for a general, rather than a scholarly, audience.

While he examines both extremes of what has been predicted (the "Heaven", or utopian, scenario and the "Hell" scenario, which imagines the destruction of the human race), Garreau comes down on a less extreme, but ultimately, positive, side - that humans will not be ultimately changed, even by extreme scientific advancement (the "Prevail" scenario). Thus, science and technology may be approached with some caution, but not fear.

There isn't anything particularly new or novel about Garreau's argument, and as a scholarly work, the book doesn't do that much for me. It may be more interesting to people less familiar with the questions or ideas or people discussed, but it seemed to me to be yet another in a long line of technophilic pop culture books that promote the embrace of science, a counter to the equally long line of technophobic pop culture books that instill fear and foretell doom.

rsp10 03:28 PM | (0) |