Upgrade Me: Our Amazing Journey to Human 2.0

Brian Clegg, Author
Brian Clegg, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-312-37157-9
Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
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Couching his discussion of mankind's next steps in the context of human evolution, and especially the past 100,000 years of our own ""directed enhancement,"" author and science writer Clegg (The God Effect, A Brief History of Infinity, etc.) challenges the assumptions of futurologists, and their opponents, to produce a fascinating and readily graspable vision of our past and future. While rejecting extreme predictions from tech-obsessed prognosticators like Ray Kurzweil, Clegg embraces technology of all kinds, from clothing to domesticated dogs to gene therapy, arguing that the ability to move ""beyond our biology"" (to ""live longer... make the most of our brains, and to repair damaged bodies"") is inherent to the species. When ""prehumans"" faced predators on the savannah five million years ago, natural selection favored those inclined to cooperate, a trait likely associated with more juvenile characteristics (dovetailing with humans' lack of hair and relatively small physique). Then, a hundred thousand years ago, a genetic change allowed humans to see beyond the here and now-""to dream, to plan, to anticipate""-and kicked off the unnatural evolution of human invention. Zeroing in on the evolutionary torches picked up by old and emerging technology, Clegg takes a balanced look at the possibilities of biotechnologies like cloning, nanoscopic machines and brain-enhancing drugs or chips. Clegg's latest will engage scientists and lay readers with a thorough, level-headed, reader-friendly treatment of controversial and complex material.
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