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Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares

The Promise and Peril of Genetic Engineering

Maxwell J. Mehlman

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What will happen when technology allows us to direct our own evolution?

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…

What will happen when technology allows us to direct our own evolution?

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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Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares

Maxwell J. Mehlman

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Reviews

A well-balanced and well-documented look at how we now are positioned (at least in the United States) to control this process, and what some of the pros and cons of enlarging control, or alternatively loosening it, might be.

In his highly readable and especially timely new book, The Price of Perfection, Mehlman makes it clear that he is not at all persuaded that the ethical response to the availability of performance-enhancing drugs in sports—or elsewhere in society, for that matter—is to ban them and then spend a lot of effort testing for those who use them anyway.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
288
ISBN
9781421406695
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I: What Is to Come?
1. Visions of Heaven and Hell
2. Thinking about the Unthinkable
Part II: The Hazards of Evolutionary Engineering
3. Physical Harm to Children
4

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I: What Is to Come?
1. Visions of Heaven and Hell
2. Thinking about the Unthinkable
Part II: The Hazards of Evolutionary Engineering
3. Physical Harm to Children
4. Psychosocial Harm to Children
5. Broader Consequences for Society
6. The End of the Human Lineage
7. Evolution by Nature or by Human Design?
Part III: Managing Risk in Evolutionary Engineering
8. Protecting the Children
9. Preserving Societal Cohesion
10. Providing for Our Descendents
11. Safeguarding the Human Species
Epilogue
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Maxwell J. Mehlman
Featured Contributor

Maxwell J. Mehlman, J.D.

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.