Technological Human Evolution
May 16, 2005 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Inward Technology - Directed Evolution of Humans (W.Post - reg.)
"The next our own selves"
"We should not just accept but embrace the new technologies"
"But the promise of mastery is flawed. It threatens to banish our appreciation of life as a gift.."
the author, the book via via
posted by peacay (12 comments total)
GITS, anyone?
posted by Citizen Premier at 8:42 AM on May 16, 2005


No seriously: Khan.

Wouldn't it be great if we prized wisdom as much as achievement for achievements sake or for the sake of spectacle?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2005

So in the future, I'll live to be 120, have a 200 IQ, be impervious to pain, have little need for sleep, and be ripped as a belgian blue.

My quality of life could only improve. After all, it worked out so well for these folks. Wow, where can I sign up?
posted by Gamblor at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2005

That reminds me, can anybody name any movies or books where these kinds of "improvements" were made, and things turned out better for people in the end?

Off the top of my head, it seems like life gets (moderately to catastrophically) worse for nearly everyone involved in most cases:

Ghost in the Shell
Neuromancer (or any other William Gibson book)
Snow Crash
Super Toys Last All Summer Long
The Matrix
The Terminator

Not to mention all of the crappy, low-budget cyborg action movies like Universal Soldier, Nemesis, etc.

Can anyone think of any positive examples of human modification in fiction?
posted by Gamblor at 1:31 PM on May 16, 2005

Gamblor, that belgian blue sure looks delicious. In the future, perhaps we'll all be delicious.
(Soylent green is people)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:34 PM on May 16, 2005

Gamblor I think that a lot of the time, the non-improvements from human improvement lies in the fact that not everyone benefited (ie., got improved).

Disparity causing problems? No, say it ain't so...
posted by PurplePorpoise at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2005

Well, PurplePorpoise, in Asimov's robot novels, all of the Spacers had extended life spans, but still they died out in the end. Still, I think Asimov's Spacer worlds are some of the most ideal sci-fi worlds where the people have been genetically modified, but Asimov seemed to think that this idealism was bad.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:42 PM on May 16, 2005

Gamblor, the reason for that is fiction is heavily influenced by the traditions of the Romanticism movement. It's a reaction to a rapidly changing and unknown seemingly cold and un-feeling world dominated by reason in which man is not at the center. It's an outlet for our irrational emotions of fear of an unknown future, and desire for the more simple and natural times of the past.
posted by stbalbach at 5:11 PM on May 16, 2005

Until now, the progress of life on earth has been rather mindless and haphazard.

The goal of life might indeed be to create a self-aware species intelligent enough to direct the further evolution of life with purpose. We are life's conscious eyes and hands.

It has taken life billions of years, but it has finally achieved phase two. Genetic self-experimentation. Risky? Yes, but the rewards can/will be incredible.
posted by tgyg at 9:33 PM on May 16, 2005

"Risky? Yes, but the rewards can/will be incredible."
I have no problem with the concept moving forward. Clearly we need to move in this direction. My only problem is what we now define as a 'reward'.
Off the top of my head I can't name any gladiator from Rome. In the same way to focus on this as an achievement would be idiotic.

On the other hand anything that helps us get life off planet is to be welcomed.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2005

That reminds me, can anybody name any movies or books where these kinds of "improvements" were made, and things turned out better for people in the end?

That would be a really boring story, so mostly people don't write them. Who'd want to read about "Bob the Transhuman got up, did complicated things you couldn't understand and immensely enjoyed them for 12 years, and then went to sleep."

Frederik Pohl's Heechee books, esp. Heechee Rendezvous and Annals of the Heechee.

Brian Stableford's books about extended lifespan, including The Fountains of Youth

Iain M. Banks' Culture books (esp. The Player of Games , State of the Art, and Look to Windward)

Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime, at least by implication.

Greg Bear's Blood Music, at least sorta.

Maybe Greg Bear's Eon and Eternity.

KSRobinson's Blue Mars

Greg Egan's Permutation City, at least mostly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:23 AM on May 17, 2005

Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace
posted by the theory of revolution at 3:05 PM on May 17, 2005

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