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Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  932 ratings  ·  75 reviews
A decade after his now-famous pronouncement of "the end of history," Francis Fukuyama argues that as a result of biomedical advances, we are facing the possibility of a future in which our humanity itself will be altered beyond recognition. Fukuyama sketches a brief history of man's changing understanding of human nature: from Plato and Aristotle to the modernity's utopian ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Picador (first published January 1st 2002)
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Feb 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
George Ace, a crusty old dairy farmer I once knew, had an expression: "The big print gives it all to you. The fine print takes it all away." That's rather much the way it is with Francis Fukuyama.

Fukuyama, a Johns Hopkins University professor and philosophical gadfly, lays on us provocative titles like, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, or, The End of History, his earlier book, and then starts chiseling away at definitions so as to say, in effect, "Oh, I didn't
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me think of a line from the movie version of Jurassic Park: “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.” This book is an investigation of what we can do with biotechnology now, what we might be able to do in the future, and what we should or should not do. It is broken down into three sections: scientific, philosophical, and legislative.

1) the technology itself: A look at trends in neuropharmacolo
Genetic engineering and other human technological augmentations have long been tropes of science fiction, but few stories look at the wholesale social and societal implications of changing the definition what what it means to be human.

Even in today's world, when all people are fundamentally equal, we have a difficult time creating societies that walk out that equality without allotting prejudice and privilege along the lines of trivial physical and economic differences. Just imagine what society
Tara Brabazon
May 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book is absolutely shockingly bad. It is rare for me to be simply horrified at a book. I can normally find an idea or phrase or concept to think about even if I disagree with it. But this book is so basic, it is almost pseudo-academic. It takes an array of 'research' into biology and biochemical interventions such as ritalin and then raises supposedly grand arguments about ethics and 'human dignity.' Causal connections are forged where nothing except casual links may exist.

This is the wors
Robert Strupp
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to ascend to the cutting edge of the coming human genetic modification surge.
When the epigraph (the quote shown after the dedication and before the contents page) referenced an endnote of 12 sentences, the reader should be immediately forewarned of some difficult text ahead. Speaking of the superscript text-noted endnotes, this book has twenty-one pages of them.

Thankfully many endnotes list only source notes, however they have the added feature that the endnote pages, rather than simply showing the number of the chapter they refer to, instead display the actual name of
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really great book if you can get past the first chapter or so, which is pretty dense. Fukuyama provides an in depth and well rounded look at the philosophical, social, and evolutionary implications of bioengineering. He takes some rather interesting and controversial positions, but they are well thought out and supported with hard facts and straight forward logic. Took me a while to read it, but I'm glad I did.
Francis Fukuyama is, despite the disastrous thesis of "The End of History and the Last Man", one of the greatest political thinkers of our time. This is a fairly in-depth foray into the realm of bioethics in which Fukuyama proves that not only has he the capacity to understand ethics, but he's fairly good at applying them to a complex subject like biochemistry and pharmacology.

I must preface any further comments with this caveat: I come from the school of bioethicists Fukuyama believes are enabl
When a book starts out talking about where we’re at in society, and you note that it makes two central points, and both are hopelessly wrong, it makes you think that maybe either the author is confused, or timeliness of the book might have already passed us by.

In this case, I think it was a timeliness issue. It was funny though. The first thing I noticed was when the author said something along the lines of, ‘Deregulation of the financial industry has led to a golden age of wealth acquisition.’
Bryan Kibbe
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Having encountered numerous references to this book in other discussions of contemporary bio-technologies, I felt it was time to actually read the book. And I am glad I did. The book is broken up into three distinct sections, the first acting as a survey of recent bioetech trends, the second as a philosophical treatment of the ideas of human rights and human nature, and lastly a proposal for future regulations. Of the three sections, I most enjoyed the philosophical maneuvering of the second sec ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A deeply confused book that tries to map the potential political implications of the biotechnological revolution. It may be satisfactory for self-indulging snobs who want to invoke Plato and Kant in favor of very simple ideological points, but it falls short in establishing a coherent liberal framework in which these innovations make sense. The aim of this book is to inform policy makers about the necessity of building institutions to remedy potential negative results of biotechnological innovat ...more
Alex McManus
Ever since I read The Future Doesn't Need Us in 1999 from Wired magazine, I have been following GNR (Genetics, Nano Technology, and Robotics). This may be one of the reasons why "postmodernism" didn't become an obsession with me. I knew the world was becoming post-human. That seemed way more significant.

In Our Postman Future, Fukuyama takes a look at the ethical issues related to human enhancement.

This shelf is dedicated to some of the books that have influenced me as I wrote Makers of Fire. Som
Sep 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Review 1.0

My father bought me this book. Perhaps it was the second English book he ever bought me. I am also sure that he only picked this book because it was placed on the front self, looked cool and all. So I had this book which I would never ever buy in the first place and.... enjoyed it.

Maybe I had to review it again in the future. But in the mind of a barely highschool student at that time, I was impressed by the book. The whole vision of the future, when 'cloning' was quite a new subject
Sep 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Fukuyama has a lot of interesting ideas, but his lack of scientific evidence and extreme predictions are disconcerting to the reader and personally make me doubt his opinion. If you like biotechnology, his perspective is interesting and will keep you curious.
Steve Kettmann
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating book, as I write in my 2002 review for the San Francisco Chronicle:

Francis Fukuyama argues that biotechnology could lead to the end of humankind as we know it
Reviewed by Steve Kettmann

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Our Posthuman Future

Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

By Francis Fukuyama


Reviewers try not to go overboard, but here's a humble
Antonio Nunez
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
...When Fukuyama, in his latest book, published a few months ago, takes to task large segments of the scientifical and bioethical community, we should pay attention, for he is rarely misinformed and never less than cogent in his analyses. The author's main point is that human nature, and the social and political institutions built on it (such as democracy, the rule of law and the capitalist market), is at risk from changes in biotechnology, such as neuropharmacology (drugs capable of altering hu ...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Overall, the book seems to be an extensive mea culpa on the part of the author for his much criticized 1989 book "The end of history and the last man". In short, in the first book, Fukuyama argued that, after liberal democracy had shown itself to be the only viable political model, civilization would enter an era of everlasting bliss.

In this book from 2002, Fukuyama focusses on the widespread critique on his earlier book stating that there can not be an end to history as long as there is no end
Daniel Toker
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, technology
If nothing else, the breadth of knowledge that Fukuyama brings to bear on the ethics of biotechnology is remarkable: he is as comfortable talking about ethology as he is Kantian ethics or international regulatory frameworks, and he does a great job discussing all of these. His prose is clear and persuasive, and his argument relatively straightforward.

His argument can be boiled down to this: ethics are based on human nature, biotechnology can alter human nature, if biotechnology isn't properly re
Dennis Littrell
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Vital and interesting but not entirely convincing

I was very impressed with the depth and scope of Fukuyama's examination of the call to regulate biotechnology and especially with the fairness of his presentation and tone. His subject is a particularly contentious one, and one of enormous importance for all of us since the effect of biotechnology on human beings includes the possibility of not only changing our very nature, but of an actual step-by-step termination of humans as we are now constit
Geoffrey Benn
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book covered some of the philosophical and ethical issues related to biotechnology and biomedical sciences. The book started with technologies that are affecting our society now (10% of people are on Prozac – what does that mean for democracy?) and then moved progressively further out into the future, discussing technologies like genetic screens, cloning, and genetic engineering. Throughout the book runs a theme warning that without proper regulation, a world like Huxley’s “Brave New World” ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bioethics, philosophy
Although written over 10 years ago, it is even more important today to consider the things that Fukuyama writes about as science and technology continues to barrel forward into the future with seemingly little or no barriers. What is most important to ponder is what happens to the idea of what it means to be human and upon what do you base these ideas. Fukuyama makes a good non-religious case that there is something special about being human that we may lose as transhumanist and posthumanist phi ...more
Andreea Pausan
Feb 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is interesting to think that changes in biotechnology, namely human cloning, DNA recombination and other could have political consequences. And how do we regulate the advance of science? at an individual or state level? Is a natural aristocracy of over intelligent, over beautiful people going to emerge? How to we keep our humanity, that undefinable factor X that makes us call ourselves humans? Like any good book, this one leaves us will all the questions open, and a warning: whatever road we ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Conclusive proof that the Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist, and we can quit worshipping Him.

In a nutshell: evolution has transcended the biological substrate (meatspace) and entered into the mental.

It all fits in nicely with the theory of exponential acceleration of knowledge into the coming singularity.
Simon Bostock
May 16, 2011 is currently reading it
Was fairly expecting to hate this, to be honest. But there's a lot of thought-provoking stuff here.

The book's not afraid of controversial stuff and there are some uncomfortable passages, I suppose. This is one of its strengths.

Summary, so far: the biotechnological revolution will test our intuition and our institutions regarding the question of what it means to be human.
Kristina Jean Lareau
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This 2001 book offers very practical and utilitarian approach to biotechnology and what it means to be human in regards to human nature and human dignity. Fukuyama brings in information from philosophers, scientists, Darwinists and a host of arguments that suggest we are in a posthuman age, trying to define who we are, yet unable to reach a true consensus. A fascinating read.
Craig Fiebig
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great basis for thinking through the policy implications of questions like: how will the regime of parental rights shift in a world of cloned embryos? Given the failure of Non-Proliferation Treaty for nuclear arms methinks Dr. Fukuyama lends a little too much credence to regulatory regimes as a vehicle for creating policy and managing risk.
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
Still don't really agree but at least somewhat better argued than The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering in relying more on utilitarian considerations than some essentialist bullshit. ...more
Vladimir Chupakhin
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
the book is outdated first of all, second - author is smart but he know biology pretty bad. I liked to find some discussion on the philosophy and sociological part of humanity future, but it books mainly a hookup for young minds not knowing about current status of science.
Krzysztof Solarewicz
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
12 years and still criticized in most human enhancement texts I encounter - like it or not, the cornerstone text for the whole debate, regardless of its impreciseness
Attack on transhumanism brought to you by a man most famous for being wrong. Now he worries that science is going to make life too easy – that overcoming human evolution’s horrible legacy issues (e.g. ubiquitous mental illness, moral myopia, unspeakable death) with biotechnology will amount to the death of the soul. (Where the soul is that which thrives on adversity, is real / spiritual / creative, and Takes Responsibility.)

I shouldn’t mock; Fukuyama at least handles this fear secularly and rat
Del Herman
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A scientifically literate, well-thought out, and philosophically considerate book on the dangers of growing biotechnology and its ability to supersede the traditional limitations of human nature and character. Fukuyama begins with considerations of growing areas of biotechnology: neuropharmacology, brain manipulation, the prolongation of life, and most damningly, genetic engineering.

While no doubt all four of those categories have the ability to produce excellent consequences, all four of them
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Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama (born 27 October 1952) is an American philosopher, political economist, and author.

Francis Fukuyama was born in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. His father, Yoshio Fukuyama, a second-generation Japanese-American, was trained as a minister in the Congregational Church and received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago. His mother, Toshiko Kawata Fu

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