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Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond To The Redesigned Human Of The Future Paperback – October 26, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"A challenging and provocative look at the intersection of human self-modification and political governance. Everyone wondering how society will be able to handle the coming possibilities of AI and Genomics should read Citizen Cyborg." (Dr. Gregory Stock, author of Redesigning Humans)

"A powerful indictment of the anti-rationalist attitudes that are dominating our national policy today. Hughes brings together ideas from religion, history, science, bioethics, and politics in a unique way. The book sparkles with insights, challenges, and new ways of looking at the problems our society is facing today. He is a worthy guide to a more humane future." (John Lantos M.D., author of Do We Still Need Doctors)

"James Hughes is a sober, insightful, useful and optimistic thinker about the astonishing changes in store for human nature. Citizen Cyborg is an important contribution to the rapidly moving debate on human enhancement." (Joel Garreau, author of While God Wasn't Watching: The Future of Human Nature)

"A fascinating tour of the coming intersection of politics, nanotechnology, and biology, by the leading champion of Transhumanism. Anyone who wants to understand the tumultuous bio-politics of the next decade should read this book." (Gregory Pence, author of Who's Afraid of Human Cloning, Professor, Philosophy and School of Medicine, University of Alabama Medical School.)

"Citizen Cyborg is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the dangers posed by radical transhumanism. James Hughes's passionate and skilled advocacy forces us to confront the kind of society we want for ourselves and our children." (Wesley J. Smith, author of Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World and Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America)

About the Author

James Hughes is the producer of the public affairs program, Changesurfer Radio, and the Executive Director of the World Transhumanist Association. He lives in Willington, Connecticut.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813341981
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813341989
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I teach Health Policy in the Graduate program at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut, and serve as Trinity's Associate Director of Institutional Research and Planning. I'm also the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. I produce the weekly syndicated public affairs talk show Changesurfer Radio, and am author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. I live in eastern Connecticut with my wife, the artist Monica Bock, and our two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Plus on January 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found "Citizen Cyborg" quite readable, and James Hughes brings up a number of interesting arguments against both the bio-Luddite and libertarian-Extropian views of human transformation through technological means. Regarding the latter, Hughes points to the contradiction between the Extropians' desire to re-engineer naturally evolved biology without limits, versus their taboo against intervening into the evolved "spontaneous orders" of markets. Ironically the Extropians' guru F.A. Hayek in "The Fatal Conceit" asserts that we cannot rationally control the direction of an evolved system of any sort, even in principle. But Extropians deliberately ignore that aspect of Hayek's philosophy because it conflicts with their biological agenda.

I also like how Hughes treats the futurist philosopher F.M. Esfandiary (who also called himself FM-2030) as a serious thinker. Many of FM-2030's speculations about the values and lifestyles of "Future Man" sound more plausible now than when he first promoted them in the 1970's and 1980's, and I would like to see his contributions receive more recognition.

I find fault with Hughes's book in the following areas, however:

1. He puts too much emphasis on the technology of baby-making, maybe he because writes for a "family values" friendly American readership, at a time when most developed democratic countries now face population declines, especially Japan. It looks as if people in democracies have better things to do than planning to create genetically improved offspring.

2. He doesn't deal with the threat Peak Oil poses to the future of technological civilization.

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on December 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
The day I finished reading "Citizen Cyborg" I met friends for a late dinner in an upscale Georgetown bistro. As a measure of the power of medical ethicist James Hughes' book, our dinner conversation revolved around the potential of babies free of genetic defects, the elimination of most of the diseases that now decimates our population, the potential of creating non-human sentient beings that might well have legal rights, and the possibility of near immortality. The domination of these issues among such an eclectic group of young Washingtonians is a measure of the book's saliency in the first part of the twenty-first century. I recommend "Citizen Cyborg" as an entertaining, challenging, and provocative exploration of the meaning of the post-human in modern American society.

Part history, but especially an ethical perspective on the future, Hughes describes the efforts of those who seek to bring a future to humanity that offers the elimination of most diseases and enhances life through the use of drugs, careful eugenics, technological enhancement, and biotech innovations. The mapping of the human genome, according to Hughes, is just the beginning of a future in which human life might be radically improved. These possibilities also harbor questions and fears, as anything new and different has always done. Dubbing them "bioLuddites," Hughes suggests that those opposing these possibilities are organizing to ensure that the United States does not participate in the next fundamental transformation in human history. The biotech revolution has the potential, he believes, to be more significant than the Industrial Revolution that the United States embraced.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lappen VINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
New technologies are coming in the near future that have the potential to radically change what it means to be human. This book looks at why democratic societies must respond to things like cloning, genetic engineering and nanotechnology, instead of pretending that they don't exist.

What the author calls "bio-Luddites" are opposed to such new technologies, because they feel that mankind should be happy with its 70 (or so) years of life, characterized by increasing bodily disfunction in its later stages. Another reason for opposition is the vague, but always there, possibility of a disaster unleashing some new plague on the world. Some people say that taboos and gut feelings are the path to wisdom. If a new technology feels spooky, ban it immediately. The Catholic Church opposes such things because they are supposedly offensive to God.

On the other hand, if a person is found to be a carrier for, or genetically susceptible to, Disease X, don't they have the right to fix their DNA (assuming a safe and reliable method can be found to do so)? Those who call themselves transhumanists (based on humanism) believe that people should have the right to modify their bodies, whether the quest is for greater intelligence, longevity or a happier outlook on life. They are the first to assert that there must be adequate discussion beforehand, and adequate safeguards after the introduction of a new technology. Such things must also be available to all people, through some sort of universal health insurance, not just to the rich. Transhumanists have no desire to take over the world, but one of the subjects for social consideration has to be how to extinguish potential schisms between humans and posthumans. To those who think that some new regulatory agency is needed, the author does not agree.
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