Human enhancement book. What are the best books about human enhancement and human augmentation? Bonus: best fiction, best series and best movies!
Books human enhancement
What is a good book about human enhancement? Of course, you can order my book Future of Humans. In this book I will answer these questions:
- What will the humans of the future look like?
- Will we create and sculpt the ‘perfect’ human?
In this book you will learn more about the future of humans – for instance by looking at different methods and techniques in the field of (biomedical) technology, the ethics behind them, and their impact. Click here for more information about this book.
Best book human enhancement
I frequently refer to non-fiction books by professor Yuval Noah Harari and professor Michael Bess. I also like to use examples from fiction every now and then, such as Brave New World and Oryx and Crake.
Here, you can find a list of the non-fiction books that I think are the best on this topic.
- Book Homo Deus
- Book Make Way for the Superhumans
- Book Evolving Ourselves
- Book The Gene
- Book The Techno-Human Condition
- Book Hacking Darwin
- Book Unfit for the Future
Here you can find a short description of the top 3 books:
1. Homo Deus
In the future we will have the capabilities of a god. With scientific advancement, immortality and digital consciousness come into view. But Harari also describes the downside: does humanism still fit in here if companies can predict us better than ourselves using data? Link.
2. Our Grandchildren Redesigned
Historian and professor Michael Bess delved into the future of human enhancement. In addition to describing advances in science and technology, a strong point of this book is that he focuses on social, cultural and societal consequences of human enhancement. Link.
3. Evolving Ourselves
Humanity itself is the most powerful engine of human evolution. From rising obesity figures from fast food to changing our DNA with CRISPR / cas9. We are experiencing the biggest shift of our kind: from unnatural selection and random mutations to natural selection and accurate mutations. Short chapters with sometimes provocative statements. Link.
But besides non-fiction, the concept of human enhancement also is the subject in many science fiction stories.
Stories human enhancement
Numerous fiction books have been written about our future as human beings. At the time of writing this article, I’m reading the MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood [link at the bottom]. In the books, a deliberately planned biological disaster has almost completely destroyed mankind. In the stories, modifications to humans aren’t discussed that often, but the consequences of our modifications to animals, crops and the rest of the planet are.
The book Neuromancer by William Gibson is a compelling mix of technology and espionage. According to critics, this 1983 book describes the Internet for the first time. The author was ahead of his time with a story about hackers, artificial intelligence systems and the power of large corporations.
In a list of influential fiction on this subject, Brave New World is definitely one that needs to be mentioned. The book was written by Aldous Huxley in 1932 and describes a completely rationalized world. Both reproduction and education are artificial and all human aspects such as love, art and emotions have been banned from the world.
Here can you find the links:
TV show human enhancement
It’s no surprise: Black Mirror, on Netflix, is one of my favorite TV shows. The most impressive element of the show is that its creators are stretching the limits of (technological) developments in our current society.
Staying within the realm of this particular article, the episode San Junipero really appealed to me [link at the bottom]. The episode Real Life of the show Electric Dreams on Amazon Prime deals with a very similar concept [link at the bottom]. Both episodes are about virtual life in a simulation.
This concept of a true to life simulation has been around for a while, think for instance of the ‘Experience Machine’ by philosopher Robert Nozick in 1974 [bottom left]. This is the idea: what if you get into a machine and then you experience the life of your dreams? However, there is one but: the moment you get into the machine, you forget that it’s a simulation. Life inside the machine is then experienced as real life. What would you choose?
Another show, which uses a different technology, is Orphan Black – again available on Netflix. The process of cloning creates multiple genetically identical characters. The protagonists, played by actress Tatiana Maslany, are separate individuals with the same DNA. The show plays around with this idea, which makes you, as a viewer, wonder about what the influence of genetics is on your identity.
When it comes to the show Westworld on HBO, I sometimes found the first season a bit hard to follow. In the second season, it became more visible how the (fictional) world came into being and what the consequences would be if machines started to act autonomously. Is being alive substrate-independent, i.e. not bound to biological organisms? In other words: can human life be simulated in machines, and can machines also develop their own consciousness?
Movies enhanced humans
In one of the first sections, I wrote about the movies Lucy and Limitless, which are about using your brain’s full cognitive capacity [bottom left]. In Lucy, the main character (played by Scarlett Johansson) can even influence the outside world with her brain. She can use her thoughts to take over televisions and pick up all the telephone calls in her surroundings.
Limitless focuses a bit more on the characters themselves, where the protagonist Eddie (played by Bradley Cooper) works his way up from being a loser to a successful writer with the help of pills.
Brain uploading and androids
The movie Transcendence revolves around a brilliant computer scientist (played by Johnny Depp). His specialism is artificial intelligence, and his vision is to model an artificial system after the human brain. Because of a fatal disorder he doesn’t have long to live, and so he, his wife and a friendly colleague make the decision: they will copy his brain and use it as the basis for super-intelligence.
The movie Blade Runner 2049 is the successor of the original Blade Runner. Both movies are set in a future in which androids exist. These androids are artificial, but barely distinguishable from real people. Just like the show Westworld, this movie made me think about whether the future of mankind is in our current biological form. Apart from that, I loved the dystopian images of the Los Angeles wasteland. Especially combined with the futuristic music composed by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.
Do you want to know more about human enhancement?
Please contact me if you have any questions! Like if you want to invite me to give a lecture, presentation or webinar at your company, at your congress, symposium or meeting.
Or if you want to book a session with me as an expert consultant on this area.
I previously wrote these related articles about human enhancement:
- What is human enhancement?
- What is the definition of human enhancement?
- What are human enhancement technologies?
- What are examples of human enhancement?
- What is human genetic enhancement?
- What are human enhancement drugs?
- What is human enhancement research?
- What are arguments in the human enhancement debate?
- What are the ethics of human enhancement?
These are related articles:
These fiction books, TV shows and movies were discussed in the article:
- Movie Lucy
- Movie Limitless
- Movie Transcendence
- Movie Blade Runner 2049
- Movie Elysium
- Movie Edge of Tomorrow
- Series Black Mirror
- Series Electric Dreams
- Orphan Black TV show
- TV show Westworld
What is your favorite book on this topic? Leave a comment!