Radical Evolution

The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies – And What It Means To Be Human

Thursday, December 1st, 2005
We are facing "the biggest change in 50,000 years in what it means to be human."

Due to the swiftly evolving GRIN technologies, that is, genetic, robotic, information, and nano.


Senior Fellow
Institute for Public Policy
George Mason University

Joel Garreau is a student of culture, values and change. The author of the best-selling Edge City: Life on the New Frontier and the Nine Nations of North America, he is a reporter and editor at the Washington Post, as well as a member of the scenario-planning organization Global Business Network, and has served as a senior fellow at the George Mason University and the University of California at Berkeley. he has appeared on such national media as Good Morning America, Today, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC's World News Tonight, and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He lives in Broad Run, Virginia. Visit his website at www.garreau.com.

To get a sense of the possible implications of these paradigm-altering developments, he speaks with scientists who fall roughly into two opposing mind-sets: those who view technology as a stairway to a heaven in which humans perfect the body and greatly extend the mind, and those who see a grimly hellish future in which self-replicating microbes, nanobots, or "enhanced" humans turn viciously against their creators. Clarifying and companionable, Garreau explains astonishing discoveries, ponders just how intimately connected we are to our digital tools, surveys speculative fiction classics, and profiles such visionaries as heaven-inclined Raymond Kurzweil, hell-fearing William Joy, and Jaron Lanier, the virtual-reality guru, who offers a less extreme, more commonsensible vision of the future based on humankind's muddled but powerful instinct to do the right thing. The technoscenarios Garreau explicates are riveting, and of acute importance, as is his reminder that there is much more to life than technology, no matter how amazing it gets.