March 9, 2005

More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

Fellow transhumanist and friend Ramez Naam has released his first book.

With the title of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, Naam argues in his new book that the power to alter ourselves--provided that it's in the hands of millions of individuals and families--stands to benefit society more than to harm it. Here's the Amazon link.

Blurbage from Naam's Website:
More Than Human is about our growing power to alter our minds, bodies, and lifespans through technology - the power to redefine our species - a power we can choose to fear, or to embrace.

In 1990, a professor at the University of Colorado discovered that changing a single gene doubles the lifespan of tiny nematode worms.

In 1999, researchers searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease genetically engineered a strain of mice that can learn things five times as quickly as their normal kin – super-intelligent mice.

In 2002, scientists looking for ways to help paralyzed patients implanted electrodes into the brain of an owl monkey and trained it to move a robot arm 600 miles away just by thinking about it.

Over the last decade researchers looking for ways to help the sick and injured have stumbled onto techniques that enhance healthy animals – making them stronger, faster, smarter, longer-lived, even connecting their minds to robots and computers. Now science is on the verge of applying this knowledge to healthy men and women. 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 halt or even reverse human aging.

More Than Human takes the reader into the labs where this is happening to understand the science of human enhancement. It also steps back to look at the big picture. How will these technologies affect society? What will they do to the economy, to politics, and to human identity? What social policies should we enact to regulate, restrict, or encourage the use of these technologies?

Ultimately More Than Human concludes that we should embrace, rather than fear, the power to alter ourselves - that in the hands of millions of individuals and families, it stands to benefit society more than to harm it.

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