Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Future of Human Nature

We are at an inflection point in history. For the first time, our technologies and intellectual energies are not aimed outward—at modifying our environment through agriculture, clothing, and constructing cities. Instead, our energies are increasingly aimed inward—at modifying our minds, memories, metabolisms, personalities, and progeny. This is occurring not in some distant future, but now and in the next 10 to 20 years. What does this shift in the definition of "human" mean for us and our kids? There are three scenarios: Heaven—in which our inventions conquer pain, suffering, stupidity, ignorance, and even death. Hell—in which our creations wipe out the human race or all of life on earth within a generation. And Prevail—which argues that these first two scenarios are technodeterminist. In this scenario, what really matters—as always—is not how many transistors we get to talk to each other, but how many ornery, imaginative, unpredictable human beings we can bring together to arrive at surprising ways to co-evolve with our challenges.

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