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Enough

Staying Human in an Engineered Age

Bill McKibben

St. Martin's Griffin

From the author of The End of Nature comes a passionate plea to limit the technologies that could change the very definition of who we are. 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 could be passed down into eternity. We are sleepwalking toward the future, argues Bill McKibben, and it’s time to open our eyes.

In The End of Nature, published nearly fifteen years ago, McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to alter irrevocably—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 with 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 human beings 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."

BOOK EXCERPTS

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From Enough:

What will you have done to your newborn when you have installed into the nucleus of every one of her billions of cells a purchased code that will pump out proteins designed to change her? You will have robbed her of the last possible chance for creating context--meaning--for her life. Say she finds herself, at the age of sixteen, unaccountably happy. Is it her being happy--finding, perhaps, the boy she will first love--or is it the corporate product inserted within her when she was a small nest of cells, an artificial chromosome now causing her body to produce more serotonin?
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REVIEWS

Praise for Enough

“Bill McKibben has produced a book that is both a sequel and an equal to his brilliant The End of Nature. Enough is an ambitious and important book.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Without question, this is one of the most important books of the year. McKibben deserves to be read, to be discussed, to be heard.” —San Diego Union-Tribune

“[A] brave and luminous book . . . Bill McKibben understands genetics—but he knows poetry, too.” —David Gelernter, Wired

“Bill McKibben has done a top-notch job of researching and writing about one of the most important topics of the current age. Enough is an important book and needs to be read by everyone with an interest in keeping the human future human.” —The Weekly Standard

“Fiercely important . . . the most thought-provoking piece of non-fiction I’ve read in a long time.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“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. O. Wilson, author of The Future of Life

“In Enough, McKibben shines his powerful light on another momentous change that is upon us: the ability to re-engineer ourselves and therefore the very meaning of human identity. If he 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

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Bill McKibben

  • Bill McKibben writes regularly for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Natural History, The New Republic, and many other publications. His first book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 after being excerpted in The New Yorker and was a national bestseller. His other books include The Age of Missing Information, Maybe One, and Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously. He lives with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, and daughter in Vermont.
  • Bill McKibben Steve Liptay
    Bill McKibben
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Available Formats and Book Details

Enough

Staying Human in an Engineered Age

Bill McKibben

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Griffin

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