At a time when scientific and technological breakthroughs keep our eyes focused on the latest software upgrades or the newest cell-phone wizardry, a group of today's most innovative thinkers are looking beyond the horizon to explore both the promise and the peril of our technological future. Human ingenuity has granted us a world of unprecedented personal power -- enabling us to communicate instantaneously with anyone anywhere on the globe, to transport ourselves in both real and virtual worlds to distant places with ease, to fill our bellies with engineered commodities once available to only a privileged elite. Through our technologies, we have sought to free ourselves from the shackles of nature and become its master. Yet science and technology continually transform our experience and society in ways that often seem to be beyond our control. Today, different areas of research and innovation are advancing synergistically, multiplying the rate and magnitude of technological and societal change, with consequences that no one can predict.Living with the Genie explores the origins, nature, and meaning of such change, and our capacity to govern it. As the power of technology continues to accelerate, who, this book asks, will be the master of whom?
Group of essays presented in this book provide a short-term and a long-term analysis of technological progress made by the society. The book raises some question regarding living standard. These essays raise some profound philosophical questions on progress and the human condition that the progress embodies.
In this latest version of humanity, we are equipped with a fully re-engineered immune system; the latest set of cultural assumptions about gender, ethnicity, and sexuality; and a suite of customized enhancements, including artificial joints, neurochemical mood modulators, and performance-boosting hormones. In The Techno-Human Condition, Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz explore what it means to be human in an era of incomprehensible technological complexity and change. They argue that if we are to have any prospect of managing that complexity, we will need to escape the shackles of current assumptions about rationality, progress, and certainty, even as we maintain a commitment to fundamental human values. Humans have been co-evolving with their technologies since the dawn of prehistory, when tool making and meat eating co-evolved with brain development and social complexity. What is different now is that we have moved beyond external technological interventions to transform ourselves from the inside out--even as we also remake the Earth system itself. Coping with this new reality, say Allenby and Sarewitz, means liberating ourselves from such categories as "human," "technological," and "natural" to embrace a new techno-human relationship. Describing the- terms of this relationship, and exploring sociotechnical systems ranging from railroads to modern military technology, Allenby and Sarewitz ultimately locate individual authenticity in the quest for a new humility in the face of the rapidly disappearing moorings of the Enlightenment.
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