Evolving Ourselves: Redesigning the Future of Humanity--One Gene at a Time

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“We are the primary drivers of change. We will directly and indirectly determine what lives, what dies, where, and when. We are in a different phase of evolution; the future of life is now in our hands.”

Why are rates of conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at an unprecedented pace? Why are humans living longer, getting smarter, and having far fewer kids? How might your lifestyle affect your unborn children and grandchildren? How will gene-editing technologies like CRISPR steer the course of human evolution? If Darwin were alive today, how would he explain this new world? Could our progeny eventually become a different species—or several?

In Evolving Ourselves, futurist Juan Enriquez and scientist Steve Gullans conduct a sweeping tour of how humans are changing the course of evolution—sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. For example:


   •  Globally, rates of obesity in humans nearly doubled between 1980 and 2014. What’s more, there’s evidence that other species, from pasture-fed horses to lab animals to house cats, are also getting fatter.
   •  As reported by U.S. government agencies, the rate of autism rose by 131 percent from 2001 to 2010, an increase that cannot be attributed simply to increases in diagnosis rates.
   •  Three hundred years ago, almost no one with a serious nut allergy lived long enough to reproduce. Today, despite an environment in which food allergies have increased by 50 percent in just over a decade, 17 million Americans who suffer from food allergies survive, thrive, and pass their genes and behaviors on to the next generation.
   •  In the pre-Twinkie era, early humans had quite healthy mouths. As we began cooking, bathing, and using antibiotics, the bacteria in our bodies changed dramatically and became far less diverse. Today the consequences are evident not only in our teeth but throughout our bodies and minds. 

Though these harbingers of change are deeply unsettling, the authors argue that we are also in an epoch of tremendous opportunity. New advances in biotechnology help us mitigate the cruel forces of natural selection, from saving prematurely born babies to gene therapies for sickle cell anemia and other conditions. As technology like CRISPR enables us to take control of our genes, we will be able to alter our own species and many others—a good thing, given that our eventual survival will require space travel and colonization, enabled by a fundamental redesign of our bodies.

Future humans could become great caretakers of the planet, as well as a more diverse, more resilient, gentler, and more intelligent species—but only if we make the right choices now.

Intelligent, provocative, and optimistic, Evolving Ourselves is the ultimate guide to the next phase of life on Earth.




From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

JUAN ENRIQUEZ and STEVE GULLANS, PH.D., are cofounders of Excel Venture Management, which builds start-ups in synthetic biology, big data, and new genetic technologies. Enriquez is a bestselling author and a global authority on the economic and political impacts of the life sciences. He is a TED “all-star,” lectures around the world, chairs the Genetics Advisory Council at Harvard Medical School, and was the founding director of Harvard Business School’s Life Science Project. Gullans was a professor at Harvard Medical School for eighteen years, applying breakthrough technologies to diseases such as cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. He has published more than 130 scientific papers in leading journals. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1998. The authors live in Boston.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Mar 10, 2015
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9780698174986
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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You will never look at the world in the same way after reading As the Future Catches You. Juan Enriquez puts you face to face with a series of unprecedented political, ethical, economic, and financial issues, dramatically demonstrating the cascading impact of the genetic, digital, and knowledge revolutions on your life.

Genetics will be the dominant language of this century. Those who can “speak it” will acquire direct and deliberate control over all forms of life. But most countries and individuals remain illiterate in what is rapidly becoming the greatest single driver of the global economy.

Wealth will be more concentrated and those with knowledge to sell–both countries and individuals–will be the winners.

Consider what will happen when:
• Your genetic code can be digitally imprinted on an ID card and your insurance company and employer see that you are genetically disposed to, say, heart disease.
• Pharmaceutical products are developed so that you can eat genetically modified broccoli to protect yourself from cancer.
• Cloning will be as common as in vitro fertilization and scientists can influence the genetic design not only of other species but of your own children.
• Creating wealth no longer requires many hands. Lone individuals are giving birth to entire new industries that rapidly become bigger than the economies of most countries on earth, but create very few jobs.

As the Future Catches You resembles no other book. A typical page may contain just a few dozen words. But each seemingly discrete fact is like a chip in an intellectual mosaic that reveals its meaning and beauty only as you step back and see the big picture. Juan Enriquez is like the best teacher you ever had, one who helps you to see something in a new light and makes you say, “Now I get it!”

Juan Enriquez’s main point is that technology is not kind, it does not say “please,” but slams into existing systems and destroys them while creating new ones. Countries and individuals can either surf new and powerful waves of change–or get crushed trying to stop them.

The future is catching us all.

Let it catch you with your eyes wide open.


From the Hardcover edition.
Can a country be like a marriage that has run out of cash and steam, resulting in the inevitable frank discussions about just who is pulling his or her own weight? Eventually, even those who love each other sometimes conclude they cannot stay together.

Juan Enriquez’s unique insights into the financial, political, and cultural issues we face will provoke shock and surprise and lead you to ask the question no one has yet put on the table: Could “becoming untied” ever happen here? It’s a question made especially relevant when we are faced with such unpromising facts as:

• At no other time have we had the unwelcome convergence in which the three key sectors of business, government, and consumers are so tapped out due to debt that each lacks the financial wherewithal to come to the rescue of the others.

• Most assets are not being used for productive purposes but for speculation, resulting in people lacking incentives to create real wealth, focusing instead on buying, selling, and flipping real estate.

• As religion starts to mix with politics, we have a culture that allows us to fall behind what were previously third world nations, because we are now treating science the way we did sex in the 1950s, banning or burying evolution theories and research into promising lifesaving areas such as stem-cell research.

When the enemy was outside—for example, the threat perceived when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and people feared America would lose the brain race—we rallied. Now the enemy is within, and we polarize. Defaming the legitimacy of people on the “other” side becomes the currency of the day, where people in blue states are seen as godless liberal elitists and those in red states are seen as, well, rednecks.

Citizenship, Enriquez says, is like buying into a national brand. If the brand promises one thing and delivers another, could it then have the same fate as a tired product on a supermarket shelf, eroding, losing support, even disappearing? Countries, even one as powerful and successful as America, live on fault lines. When a fault line splits, it’s near impossible to put things back together again. What America will look like in fifty years depends on what we do today to act on the issues raised in The Untied States of America.


Also available as an eBook


From the Hardcover edition.
New York Times Bestseller

A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg

From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.”

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us?

Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.

Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.

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