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Humanity's end : why we should reject radical enhancement /
Nicholas Agar.
imprint
Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, c2010.
description
viii, 219 pages ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0262014629 (hardcover : alk. paper), 9780262014625 (hardcover : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
series title
series title
imprint
Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, c2010.
isbn
0262014629 (hardcover : alk. paper)
9780262014625 (hardcover : alk. paper)
general note
"A Bradford book."
catalogue key
7295843
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2011-04-01:
This outstanding work examines an increasingly pressing question: how should one view revolutionary projections of the effects of the accelerating growth of computer technology on the fate of humanity? Agar (Victoria Univ. of Wellington, New Zealand) discusses the ideas for "radical enhancement" of human beings proposed and predicted by four advocates. The book discusses Nick Bostrum's enthusiasm for becoming a "posthuman"; Aubrey de Grey's radical antiaging therapies; James Hughes on human moral enhancement; and the most radical and influential, Ray Kurzweil's scenario in The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005). Agar acknowledges the possibility that the complex structures and processes of the human brain might be electronically simulated, but he argues that people should reject attempts to transcend the limits of human biology. He lucidly articulates a rational basis for opposing projects aimed at radical enhancement of human potentialities, either for vastly increased intelligence or for longevity. Such a transformation of human nature would entail a loss of fundamental values of human experience, thus contributing to the death of humanity as currently understood. No bibliography, but references with commentary are provided in the "Notes." This book will be of intense interest to readers at most levels. Summing Up; Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. H. C. Byerly emeritus, University of Arizona
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An evenhanded treatment of an area ripe for serious philosophical scrutiny. Agar'sanalysis is philosophically astute, empirically informed, and historically shrewd. It is a welcomecorrective to the occasional extravagancies of the human sciences." -- Quarterly Review ofBiology
"Penetrating and lucid....This is the definitive critique of what [Agar] calls'radical enhancement.'" -- Monash Bioethic Review
"Arguments against radical enhancement have too often in the past been characterized by irrationalism and mysticism. Nicholas Agar presents the first cogent case for the rationality of opposing radical enhancement. Moving easily between science and philosophy, he argues for a species-relative conception of valuable experiences, according to which we have a strong reason to remain human. This central claim is bolstered by a host of other arguments, which will ensure that Humanity's End will become a central reference point for debates over the desirability of radical enhancement." -- Neil Levy , Oxford Centre for Neuroethics
"Arguments against radical enhancement have too often in the past been characterized by irrationalism and mysticism. Nicholas Agar presents the first cogent case for the rationality of opposing radical enhancement. Moving easily between science and philosophy, he argues for a species-relative conception of valuable experiences, according to which we have a strong reason to remain human. This central claim is bolstered by a host of other arguments, which will ensure that Humanity's Endwill become a central reference point for debates over the desirability of radical enhancement." --Neil Levy, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics
"Nicholas Agar has written an excellent introduction to the moral challenges of our transition to a posthuman future, engagingly told by contrasting the work of four very different transhumanists. Humanity's End joins Agar's Liberal Eugenics on the must-read list for those interested in the future of the human race." -- James J. Hughes , Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
"Nicholas Agar has written an excellent introduction to the moral challenges of our transition to a posthuman future, engagingly told by contrasting the work of four very different transhumanists. Humanity's Endjoins Agar's Liberal Eugenicson the must-read list for those interested in the future of the human race." --James J. Hughes, Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
"Arguments against radical enhancement have too often in the past been characterized by irrationalism and mysticism. Nicholas Agar presents the first cogent case for the rationality of opposing radical enhancement. Moving easily between science and philosophy, he argues for a species-relative conception of valuable experiences, according to which we have a strong reason to remain human. This central claim is bolstered by a host of other arguments, which will ensure that Humanity's End will become a central reference point for debates over the desirability of radical enhancement." Neil Levy, Oxford Centre for Neuroethics
"Nicholas Agar has written an excellent introduction to the moral challenges of our transition to a posthuman future, engagingly told by contrasting the work of four very different transhumanists. Humanity's End joins Agar's Liberal Eugenics on the must-read list for those interested in the future of the human race." James J. Hughes, Executive Director, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2011
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
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. In this book, Nicholas Agar argues against radical enhancement, describing its destructive consequences.
Main Description
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 "Humanitys 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.
Main Description
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.
Main Description
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.
Main Description
Proposals to make us smarter than the greatest geniuses or to add thousands of yearsto our life spans seem fit only for the spam folder or trash can. And yet this is what contemporaryadvocates of radical enhancement offer in all seriousness. They present a variety of technologiesand therapies that will expand our capacities far beyond what is currently possible for humanbeings. In Humanity's End, Nicholas Agar argues against radical enhancement,describing its destructive consequences. Agar examines the proposals of fourprominent radical enhancers: Ray Kurzweil, who argues that technology will enable our escape fromhuman biology; Aubrey de Grey, who calls for anti-aging therapies that will achieve "longevityescape velocity"; Nick Bostrom, who defends the morality and rationality of enhancement; andJames Hughes, who envisions a harmonious democracy of the enhanced and the unenhanced. Agar arguesthat the outcomes of radical enhancement could be darker than the rosy futures described by thesethinkers. The most dramatic means of enhancing our cognitive powers could in fact kill us; theradical extension of our life span could eliminate experiences of great value from our lives; and asituation in which some humans are radically enhanced and others are not could lead to tyranny ofposthumans over humans.
Unpaid Annotation
Agar examines the proposals of four prominent radical enhancers: Ray Kurzweil, who argues that technology will enable our escape from human biology; Aubrey de Gray, 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.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
What Is Radical Enhancement?p. 1
Radical Enhancement and Posthumanityp. 17
The Technologist-Ray Kurzweil and the Law of Accelerating Returnsp. 35
Is Uploading Ourselves into Machines a Good Bet?p. 57
The Therapist-Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescencep. 83
Who Wants to Live Forever?p. 107
The Philosopher-Nick Bostrom on the Morality of Enhancementp. 133
The Sociologist-James Hughes and the Many Paths of Moral Enhancementp. 151
A Species-Relativist Conclusion about Radical Enhancementp. 179
Notesp. 199
Indexp. 217
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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