Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl [8/10]

Every few years, I read a futurist’s breathless prognostications for our genetically enhanced future, a world of diseases cured, humans enhanced, and humanity reconfigured. “Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity” by Jamie Metzl, and yes, he is a futurist, is the most sprightly, clear predictive extravaganza of them all. Metzl startled me early by pointing out that IVF involves giving parents the choice between the eggs at their disposal, in effect selecting amongst alternative genes, and he quickly points out that this will inevitably lead to expanding the number of eggs and expanding parents’ God-like capabilities. From there, he explores the entire gamut of accelerating technologies that will be available to “hack” or engineer humans’ genetic make-up. Metzl does a great job in organizing the book intelligently and his writing style is cogent and stylish. I noted that on any genetic issue, he cycles through pointing out the risks (personal and societal) and encouraging oversight, before edging us towards believing that we won’t be able to resist the amazing new machinery. By the end, I had enough material to plot a dozen sci-fi books, I felt excited, I had experienced dread, and my mind buzzed. What more could I ask of such a book?

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