cover image MORE THAN HUMAN: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

MORE THAN HUMAN: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

Ramez Naam, . . Broadway, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-1843-5

Imagine a person severely disabled by a stroke who, with electrodes implanted in his brain, can type on a computer just by thinking of the letters. Or a man, blind for 20 years, driving a car around a parking lot via a camera hard-wired into his brain. Plots for science fiction? No, it's already happened, according to future technologies expert Naam. In an excellent and comprehensive survey, Naam investigates a wide swath of cutting-edge techniques that in a few years may be as common as plastic surgery. Genetic therapy for weight control isn't that far off—it's already being done with animals. Countless people who are blind, deaf or paralyzed will acquire the abilities that most people take for granted through advances in computer technology and understanding how the nervous system functions. Naam says the armed services are already investing millions of dollars in this research; they envision super-pilots and super-soldiers who will be able to control their planes and tanks more quickly via thought. Some of the author's prognostications, with their Nietzschean overtones of people being "more than human," may frighten readers, but Naam is persuasive that many of these advances are going to happen no matter what, and that despite the potential for abuses, they offer hope for our well-being and the survival of the species. Agent, Ted Weinstein. (On sale Mar. 8)