Bill McKibben

EnoughIs it possible that our technological reach is very nearly sufficient now? That our lives, at least in the West, are sufficiently comfortable.

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? Don’t think she won’t wonder: at sixteen a sensitive soul questions everything. But perhaps you’ve “increased her intelligence”—and perhaps that’s why she is questioning so hard. She won’t be sure if even the questions are hers.

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2 Responses to Bill McKibben

  1. shinichi says:

    Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

    Chapter 3: Enough?

    by Bill McKibben

    http://www.billmckibben.com/enough.html

    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 an array of technologies that could change our relationship not with the rest of nature but with ourselves. He explores the frontiers of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology—all of which we are approaching with astonishing speed—and shows that each threatens to take us past a point of no return. We now stand, in Michael Pollan’s words, “on a moral and existential threshold,” poised between the human past and a post-human future.

    McKibben offers a celebration of what it means to be human, and a warning that we risk the loss of all meaning if we step across the threshold. Instantly acclaimed for its passion and insight, this wise and eloquent book argues that we cannot forever grow in reach and power—that we must at last learn how to say, “Enough.”

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    Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

    by Bill McKibben

    http://www.amazon.com/Enough-Staying-Human-Engineered-Age/dp/product-description/0805075194/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books?tag=cyberdealdslr-20

    In 1989, McKibben published The End of Nature, a gorgeously written and galvanizing book about the true cost of global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer and other man-made ills-the loss of wild nature and with it the priceless aspect of our humanity that evolved to listen to and heed it. Now McKibben applies the same passion, scholarship and free-ranging thought to a subject that even committed environmentalists have avoided. Here he tackles what it means to be human. Reporting from the frontiers of genetic research, nanotechnology and robotics, he explores that subtle moral and spiritual boundary that he calls the “enough point.” Presenting an overview of what is or may soon be possible, McKibben contends that there is no boundary to human ambition or desire or to what our very inventions may make possible. In an absorbing and horrifying montage of images, he depicts microscopic nanobots consuming the world and children born so genetically enhanced that they will never be able to believe that they reach for the stars as pianists or painters or long-distance runners because there is something unique in them that has a passion to try. Indeed, in the view of the most unbridled “technoutopians,” the day of the robotically striving human is already here. What does set a human being apart from other beings, McKibben argues, is our capacity for restraint-and even for finding great meaning in restraint. “We need to do an unlikely thing: We need to survey the world we now inhabit and proclaim it good. Good enough.” McKibben presents an uncompromising view, and an essential view. Readers will come away from his latest brilliantly provocative work shaking their heads at the possible future he portrays, yet understanding that becoming a pain-free, all-but-immortal, genetically enhanced semi-robot may be deeply unsatisfactory compared to being an ordinary man or woman who has faced his or her fear of death to relish what is. This is a brilliant book that deserves a wide readership.

  2. shinichi says:

    “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

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