The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It

Fred Guterl, Author
Fred Guterl. Bloomsbury, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-60819-258-8
Open Ebook - 978-1-60819-624-1
Paperback - 209 pages - 978-1-60819-260-1
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Thanks to the sheer size of the human population and our increasing reliance upon technology, there are now more opportunities than ever for the human race to inadvertently cause its own extinction. Guterl, executive editor of Scientific American, offers a tour of “what-ifs”: a civilization-dooming supervirus, a disastrous paradigm shift caused by climate change, a catastrophic failure of the computer systems that regulate infrastructure and the world economy. There have been at least five mass extinctions in Earth’s history, and Guterl warns that there could be another. Grounding his speculation firmly in cutting-edge science, Guterl details the lives and work of a number of scientists who have developed computer systems for NASA, engineered lethal viruses using easily accessible lab equipment, or created security software to detect and neutralize increasingly sophisticated computer viruses. Despite its engaging prose, the book suffers from uneven content, occasionally falling into Hollywood fear factory clichés. However, with its enormous scope, the book functions as an introduction to contemporary immunology, computer science, climatology, and more. While Guterl’s pessimism is not for the faint of heart, it turns out to be remarkably entertaining to ponder the ways that the human race might wipe itself out. Agent: Sydelle Kramer, Susan Rabiner Agency. (June)
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