By Mark Stevenson
while all at once faced together with his personal mortality, Mark Stevenson- a author, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian-began to contemplate what the longer term holds for our species. "The prior is a overseas country," writes Stevenson. "By my research it's kind of like France-in that i have been to elements of it and eaten a few great foodstuff there. however the destiny? the long run is an unknown territory-and there isn't any guidebook." hence, his ambition was once born.
Stevenson set out easily, asking, "What's next?" after which traveled the globe in pursuit of the solutions. alongside the best way, he visited the Australian outback to go to the farmers who can shop us from weather swap, met a robotic with temper swings, and talked to the Spaniard who is placing a resort in house. whereas a few will be crushed, or maybe dismayed via the looming realities of genome sequencing, man made biology, a nuclear renaissance, and carbon scrubbing, Stevenson continues to be, good, positive. Drawing on his singular humor and storytelling to collapse those occasionally complex discoveries, An Optimist's journey of the Future paints a perfectly readable, and fully mesmerizing portrait of the place we will be after we develop up- and why it truly is no longer so scary.
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Additional resources for An Optimist's Tour of the Future: One Curious Man Sets Out to Answer "What's Next?"
But it is utterly universal, as far as life on Earth goes. While the data in your genome is different from that stored in the genome of, say, an African savannah elephant, both you and it share the use of this chemical alphabet. In fact, we not only share it with twelve thousand kilograms of unforgetting, floppy-eared Loxodonta africana but with every living thing on the planet – meaning the same four letters can be used to represent recipe books for a whole menagerie of life and disease. This leads to a startling conclusion.
Again, all good for the individual, but is it good for our species as a whole? In a paper entitled ‘Protecting the Endangered Human,’ bioethicists George Annas, Lori Andrews and Rosario Isasi worry that: The new species, or ‘posthuman,’ will likely view the old ‘normal’ humans as inferior, even savages, and fit for slavery or slaughter. The normals, on the other hand, may see the posthumans as a threat and if they can, may engage in a pre-emptive strike by killing the posthumans before they themselves are killed or enslaved by them.
Still, this is why I’ve come to Oxford … In the same week that I visit Professor Bostrom, two news stories catch my eye. The first concerns scientists at the Spanish National Cancer Centre in Madrid who have been breeding mice which live, on average, thirty per cent longer than their ‘normal’ brethren. Led by Maria Blasco, the team is building on the work of Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, who discovered a startling substance (strictly an enzyme – a substance cells use to spur on chemical reactions) called ‘telomerase’ while they were investigating a micro-critter named ‘Tetrahymena’ found in freshwater ponds, a discovery for which the three shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine.