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Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares

Transhumanists advocate for the development and distribution of technologies that will enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, even eliminate aging. What if the dystopian futures and transhumanist utopias found in the pages of science journals, Margaret Atwood novels, films like "Gattaca", and television shows like "Dark Angel" are realized? What kind of world would humans have created? Maxwell J. Mehlman considers the promises and perils of using genetic engineering in an effort to direct the future course of human evolution. He addresses scientific and ethical issues without choosing sides in the dispute between transhumanists and their challengers. However, "Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares" reveals that radical forms of genetic engineering could become a reality much sooner than many people think, and that we need to encourage risk management efforts. Whether scientists are dubious or optimistic about the prospects for directed evolution, they tend to agree on two things. First, however long it takes to perfect the necessary technology, it is inevitable that humans will attempt to control their evolutionary future, and second, in the process of learning how to direct evolution, we are bound to make mistakes. Our responsibility is to learn how to balance innovation with caution.
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What will happen when technology allows us to direct our own evolution?

About the Author

Maxwell J. Mehlman is a professor of bioethics, the Petersilge Professor of Law, and director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University. He is author of The Price of Perfection: Individualism and Society in the Era of Biomedical Enhancement, also published by Johns Hopkins.


Bioethicist Maxwell Mehlman thinks that we will inevitably reengineer the human species, and he writes about that and the mistakes we might make in the process... A deep and wide-ranging catalog of the implications of transhumanism as a philosophical doctrine and a careful analysis of potential pitfalls and concerns... Accessible while having enough scientific substance to be taken seriously, Transhumanist Dreams provides a thought-provoking read for genetics professionals, ethicists, interested scientists, and concerned citizens. -- Michael A. Goldman * Science *

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