Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement

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MIT Press, Aug 20, 2010 - Philosophy - 232 pages
2 Reviews

An argument that achieving millennial life spans or monumental intellects will destroy values that give meaning to human lives.

Proposals to make us smarter than the greatest geniuses or to add thousands of years to our life spans seem fit only for the spam folder or trash can. And yet this is what contemporary advocates of radical enhancement offer in all seriousness. They present a variety of technologies and therapies that will expand our capacities far beyond what is currently possible for human beings. In Humanity's End, Nicholas Agar argues against radical enhancement, describing its destructive consequences.

Agar examines the proposals of four prominent radical enhancers: Ray Kurzweil, who argues that technology will enable our escape from human biology; Aubrey de Grey, who calls for anti-aging therapies that will achieve “longevity escape velocity”; Nick Bostrom, who defends the morality and rationality of enhancement; and James Hughes, who envisions a harmonious democracy of the enhanced and the unenhanced. Agar argues that the outcomes of radical enhancement could be darker than the rosy futures described by these thinkers. The most dramatic means of enhancing our cognitive powers could in fact kill us; the radical extension of our life span could eliminate experiences of great value from our lives; and a situation in which some humans are radically enhanced and others are not could lead to tyranny of posthumans over humans.


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User Review  - BenTreat - LibraryThing

To be fair, I did not finish this book. It may have gotten better. Based on the first chapter & introduction, my sense is that the author intended to evaluate the work of theorists by comparing their ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Honestly, I just read about 5 pages on the google book's excerpt and it's hard to describe how bad this is. Giant holes in logic, inanely preachy, just... not worth paying money for poorly written propaganda for an archaic ideology.


Chapter 1 What Is Radical Enhancement?
Chapter 2 Radical Enhancement and Posthumanity
Chapter 3 The Technologist Ray Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returns
Chapter 4 Is Uploading Ourselves into Machines a Good Bet?
Chapter 5 The TherapistAubrey de Greys Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence
Chapter 6 Who Wants to Live Forever?
Chapter 7 The PhilosopherNick Bostrom on the Morality of Enhancement
Chapter 8 The SociologistJames Hughes and the Many Paths of Moral Enhancement
Chapter 9 A SpeciesRelativist Conclusion about Radical Enhancement

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About the author (2010)

Nicholas Agar is Professor of Ethics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement and Truly Human Enhancement: A Philosophical Defense of Limits, both published by the MIT Press.

Robert A. Wilson is Professor of Philosophy at La Trobe University, the author of Genes and the Agents of Life, and coeditor of The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences and of Explanation and Cognition (MIT Press). He directed the project that built and is a director and the executive producer of the documentary Surviving Eugenics.

Kim Sterelny is Professor of Philosophy at Australian National University and Victoria University of Wellington. His books include Language and Reality (with Michael Devitt; second edition, MIT Press).

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