Bill McKibben - Enough

from the publisher:
We are on the verge of crossing a line -- from born to made, from created to built. Sometime in the next few years, a scientist will reprogram a human egg or sperm cell, spawning a genetic change that will be passed down into eternity. We are sleepwalking toward the future, and it's time to open our eyes.

Nearly fifteen years ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter -- and endanger -- our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to a new and equally urgent issue: the dangers inherent in an array of technologies that threaten not just our survival, but our identity.

Imagine a future where lab workers can reprogram human embryos to make our children "smarter" or "more sociable" or "happier." Some researchers are doing more than imagining this future; having worked such changes on a wide range of other animals, they've begun to plan for what they see as the inevitable transformation of our species. They are joined by other engineers, working in fields like advanced robotics and nanotechnology, who foresee a not-very-distant day when people merge with machines to create a "posthuman" world.

Enough examines such possibilities, and explains how we can avoid their worst consequences while still enjoying the fruits of our new scientific understandings. More, it confronts the most basic questions that our technological society faces: Will we ever decide that we've grown powerful enough? Can we draw a line and say this far and no further?

McKibben answers yes, and argues that only by staying human can we find true meaning in our lives. A warning against the gravest dangers humans have ever faced, this wise and eloquent book is also a passionate defense of the world we were born into, and a celebration of our ability to say, "Enough."

"In this wise, well-researched, and important book, Bill McKibben addresses the burning philosophical question of the new century, and the one that counts for the long haul: how to control the technoscientific juggernaut before it dehumanizes our species." --E. 0. Wilson, author of The Future of Life

"More than a decade ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben became the first writer to confront the implications of global warming, framing the issue in a way no one could ignore. Now, in Enough, he shines his powerful light on another, equally momentous change that is upon us: the ability to re-engineer ourselves and therefore the very meaning of human identity. If McKibben is right, then humankind stands on a moral and existential threshold -- or cliff. We would do well as a society to weigh his bracing argument before taking another step." --Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire

"The proponents of new technologies talk a lot about the benefits they see, but less of the dangers; genomics, nanotechnology, and robotics can do incredible things, but clearly threaten our civilization and even our species. It's time we thought long and hard about what we want and what we need. For anyone who cares about the future this book is a must-read." --Bill Joy

"We may well look back at the publication of Enough as a threshold event. In this impeccably fair treatment of the most complex technologies ever created by humankind, the consequences of large-scale tinkering with life are brilliantly laid out. It is not an exaggeration to compare human germline engineering to nuclear technology. While the horror of atomic weapons is the destruction of human civilization, the shadow cast by engineering Homo sapiens is the obliteration of what it means to be a human. Bill McKibben has flooded the debate with a new light that shows that the old arguments, pro or con, did not touch the essence of the crisis we face." --Paul Hawkin, author of The Ecology of Commerce

"Your book, I think, will be recognized as indispensable. It makes an informed, careful, always intelligent response to the now inescapable question: Are we willing to submit our freedom and our dearest meanings to a technological determinism imposed by the alignment of science, technology, industry, and half-conscious politics? Your answer is sensible and difficult: We can, if we will, say no. The difficulty is in the next question: Is it possible for us to refuse to do something that we can do? This is not a happy book, but it is, in its courage and its affirmation of what we have to lose, a book that is hopeful and hope-giving." --Wendell Berry, from a letter to the author

Bill McKibben writes regularly for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Outside, and many other publications. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 after being excerpted in The New Yorker; it was a national bestseller and appeared in twenty foreign editions. His other books include The Age of Missing Information, Maybe One, and Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he lives with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and daughter in the mountains above Lake Champlain.