cover image Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity

Jamie Metzl. Sourcebooks, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4926-7009-4

A species-wide dialogue about what it is to “be human” must start as soon as possible, writes Mezl (Genesis Code), a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and Clinton administration staffer, in this urgent treatise on genetic engineering. Metzl provides the necessary background to his discussion: in 2004, four clinics in China helped couples genetically analyze their embryos and thus optimize gene disorder–free births, a process known as preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). By 2016, those clinics numbered 40, some operating “on a colossal scale” and establishing China as the leading country for carrying out this process. The next step, Metzl argues, is genetically altering embryos to “optimize” them further, such as by increasing intelligence or strength. While science-savvy readers are unlikely to find these details particularly revelatory, Metzl brings an unusual degree of urgency to his policy recommendations. To prevent “a never ending process of creating and rewriting the code of life” from getting out of hand, he recommends that humanity build a “global regulatory structure,” like that governing nuclear energy. Reflecting his background in think tanks and government, rather than in science or science writing, Metzl’s focus is squarely on the societal implications of his subject, not its technical nuts and bolts. The result is a highly readable compendium of next-gen advice for the implementation and management of next-gen science. [em]Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. (Apr.) [/em]