A Summary of Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau

Topics: Human, Raymond Kurzweil, Transhumanism Pages: 6 (1811 words) Published: February 27, 2013
Elisha Angeles
English 102


Which Sounds Better, Heaven or Hell? Which is more Likely?

Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau has chapters on two scenarios of the future of humans. Both Heaven and Hell Scenarios have "The Curve" involved, but the dangers of the GRIN technologies make the Hell Scenario more likely. Rise of technology will lead to the downfall of humanity due to Bioengineered Disease Agents/Weapons. Supporting ideas for this topic are: threat of humans creating dangerous weapons such as pox with cobra venom, biotechnology such as the Australian mouse pox incident being dangerous, and the rise of technology may enhance a plague and kill more people than a natural plague.

Garreau is worried about humans being changed so much we won't be able to tell who is who. Also, we might end up missing "typical human characteristics." To Garreau, human nature is "the sum of the behavior and characteristics that are typical of the human species, arising from genetic rather than environmental factors (Garreau, 159)." A couple early warning signs we're entering The Hell Scenario are: "Almost unimaginably bad things are happening, destroying large chunks of the human race or the biosphere, at an accelerating pace, and technologies continue to accelerate as individual nations, continents, tribes or movements jockey for position in a hostile world (Garreau, 184)."

Chapter four mentions the GRIN technologies. Gregory Stock is the G, nanotechnology is the N, and computer intelligence is the I. Gregory Stock is the director of the Program on Medicine, Technology, and Society at the School of Medicine of the University of California at Los Angeles. According to Garreau, Stock thinks humans will transcend because of genetic engineering and not because of computers which is what Kurzweil thinks. There are two kinds of nanotechnology. The first "reduces big things to sizes so astonishingly little that their behavior changes dramatically (Garreau, 118)." "Promising godlike powers, immortality and unimaginable wealth (Garreau, 118)" is the second kind. One example of the first kind of nanotechnology is the "buckyball" which is nicknamed in Buckminster Fuller's honor. Its properties are: "60 times the strength of steel, the weight of plastic, the electrical conductivity of silicon, the heat conductivity of diamond and the size and perfection of DNA (Garreau, 119)." The second kind of nanotechnology starts with Eric Dexler. With his book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, he discusses his ideas. Growing objects such as a car, or a TV will be possible with nanotechnology. Computer intelligence has two meanings: weak and strong.

There's a man name Ray Kurzweil, also known as "the restless genius," in the movie Transcendent Man. He said, "technology feeds on itself and gets faster and faster. It's gonna continue and in about forty years the basic changes are going to be so astonishingly quick that you won't be able to follow it unless you enhance your own intelligence with the technology we've created." According to Garreau, Kurzweil's thinking of the weakness of humans was affected by his and his wife's family being destroyed by the Holocaust and his dad suffering from a heart attack and dying at age 58. Kurzweil's view of human nature is humans, unlike reptiles, are capable of higher functions such as love, art, culture and technology. He "can see" the hell and prevail scenarios and mentions avoiding dangerous technologies such as nanotechnology is unrealistic. He said, "Most technology will be nanotechnology in the 2020s. You would have to relinquish all of technology." Kurzweil calls "The Curve of exponentially increasing technology (Garreau)" "The Law of Accelerating Returns." He thinks humans don't have control of the force (the Curve) and it's a "pattern of life (Garreau)."

Surviving Progress mentioned a term called "Progress trap." According to the video a progress trap was created "to...
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