Books: Better Humans?

A public debate is needed now about the potential for new technologies to make us ‘better than human’ according to a report published today by UK think tank Demos and the Wellcome Trust. Better Humans? The politics of human enhancement and life extension (0.6Mb PDF) is a new collection of essays by leading scientists and commentators, edited by Paul Miller and James Wilsdon:

We all share a desire for self-improvement.Whether through education, work, parenthood or adhering to religious or ethical codes, each of us seeks to become a ‘better human’ in a variety of ways. And for some people, more consumerist pursuits hold the key to self-improvement: working out in the gym, wearing makeup, buying new clothes, or indulging in a spot of cosmetic surgery.

But now a new set of possibilities is opening up. Advances in biotechnology, neuroscience, computing and nanotechnology mean that we are in the early stages of a period of huge technological potential. Within the next 30 years, it may become commonplace to alter the genetic make-up of our children, to insert artificial implants into our bodies, or to radically extend life expectancy.

This collection of essays explores the implications of human enhancement technologies and asks how citizens and policy-makers should respond.

You can also download individual essays:

Chapter 1 Stronger, leaner, faster – Paul Miller and James Wilsdon
Chapter 2 Is it wrong to try to improve human nature? – Arthur Caplan
Chapter 3 Welcome to a world of exponential change – Nick Bostrom
Chapter 4 The mand who wants to live forever – Paul Miller and James Wilsdon
Chapter 5 The transhumanists as tribe – Greg Klerkx
Chapter 6 Brain gain – Steven Rose
Chapter 7 The cognition-enhanced classroom – Danielle Turner and Barbara Sahakian
Chapter 8 Better by design – Sarah Franklin
Chapter 9 More life – Jon Turney
Chapter 10 Nip/Tuck nation – Decca Aitkenhead
Chapter 11 The perfect crime – Rachel Hurst
Chapter 12 The unenhanced underclass – Gregor Wolbring
Chapter 13 Does smarter mean happier? – Raj Persaud

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