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Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  383 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Passionate, succinct, chilling, closely argued, sometimes hilarious, touchingly well-intentioned, and essential." —Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books

Nearly fifteen years ago, in The End of Nature, Bill McKibben demonstrated that humanity had begun to irrevocably alter and endanger our environment on a global scale. Now he turns his eye to an array of
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2003)
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Scott Lerch
This book gets 3 stars for effort but for the most part McKibben fails miserably at convincing me we need to put restrictions on our technological growth as a human race to somehow preserve our humanity. Most of McKibben's arguments seem to be gut reactions to the ickiness of germline genetic engineering and the horrible inequalities it will produce. Some of that I can definitely agree with, however, to say humans are good enough right now seems ridiculous when we have some many obvious flaws. ...more
Aug 30, 2016 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Accessibly and gracefully written. I did deeply skim the whole thing... but I wish I'd read it when published. If I'm actually going to spend more than 1/2 hr on the subject, on an issue that is relevant to technologies that are changing/ growing so very fast, I want it to be something less than 13 yrs old!

(I'll check if the author has anything newer that interests me, and I'll also check TED talks etc.)
Alisa Kester
Feb 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Couldn't read past the first few chapters because I kept wanting to disagree with all the author's conclusions. And I wouldn't have minded if we'd just had *different* beliefs, but when it's a problem of him not having basic logic...well...that's just too aggravating even for me!
Oct 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a cautionary book about the exponentially advancing disciplines of genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology that have the potential of bringing about changes at the very core of human physicality and psychology. McKibben takes us on an eye-popping tour of the very frontiers of the cutting edge of science. He tells us that some truly remarkable technological feats might very much take place in our own lifetimes, if not in a a decade or so. He then warns us that not all inventions ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, but I think it’s all too easy to miss the point. I was continually reminded of the movie Gattaca, which should be required viewing for anyone who picks this up. Gattaca mines a lot of the same territory, although it deals more with questions of discrimination and perceived inferiority than what it means to be human.

The other major point being made here is beautifully summed up by Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park (also required viewing), which is that just because you
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a terrific read, very well written.
William Schram
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enough is a plaintive cry for common sense when it comes to technology. The book is written by Bill McKibben, a man with a prior entry in the literature when he spoke of global warming.

The book is from 2003 and it shows. That isn’t to say that the points it makes are wrong per se, it is just that the author doesn’t know the future all that well. I mean, if this stuff did happen it makes sense that it would be terrifying. McKibben discusses Genetic Engineering, Nanotechnology, Robotics, and
Dennis Littrell
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A short-sighted, emotional reaction to change

This is an alarmist polemic about the danger that unrestrained growth in germline engineering, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence poses for the human race. Bill McKibben is terrified (the word is not too strong) that science and technology are on the verge of engineering humans out of existence.

I think his fears are justified. However I don't think we should be worried. Unlike McKibben, who seems to view human beings as a fixed endowment
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
I picked this up because I'd heard Bill McKibben speak and I was impressed by his lovely prose and his humane concern about the economic and technological threats to life as we know it. Everything in Enough is consistent with my first impressions. What I didn't expect was that I'd find his central arguments entirely unpersuasive. It's true that genetic engineering and nanotechnology raise serious questions that are worth our careful attention, and that the explicit goals of those few who hope ...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is about nanotechnology, biotechnology, robots and a computer generated future. I picked the book up at the library because I'd never read anything by Bill McKibben, so this was my introduction. I found it a bit heavy with the metaphors and I get all the reasons for being human but Mckibben has overlooked a huge factor in our computer generated future where parents can pick character traits, diseases are cured and robots take care of everything and that is a big gap in incomes. The gap ...more
Sep 01, 2007 rated it liked it
So I've been on a nonfiction kick of late, I guess because of the AP Language workshop and finding that this is the wave of new literature - ie, not literature. I also have been hunting for diverse and contemporary works to present to my class on the classical topics, so I picked up a few randoms - Enough, I thought, would work nicely with Walden - it's basically one man's rant (this is the danger of non fiction - and speaking of Enough, McKibben ...) against cloning and genetic design and ...more
Apr 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A more lucid and convincing look at the dangers of genetic engineering may exist, but I have to think I’d be hard pressed to find it. In brief, McKibben constructs a damning argument against engineering as the end of what we currently define as “human.” To be human is to experience, question and push the unknown. To be engineered takes that essential, but nebulous, factor out of the human experience. How good of a baseball player can you become? Don’t turn to practice and repetition to find the ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it liked it
…the prospect of death can be terrifying. Without it, however, consciousness would carry little meaning; it would have nothing to rub against, it would spin like a tire on ice.

“There are a huge number of permutations and combinations of possible rules that societies can establish” [Francis Fukayama] says. They won’t work perfectly – “no regulatory regime is ever fully leakproof” – but then, people still rob banks. The key is to ensure that the robberies don’t happen so often that they make
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
McKibben has grave concerns about where technology may be leading us. Because human ambition is boundless and because we have the capacity to make life changing technological advances very quickly, he argues that society needs to decide what constitutes "enough" progress in: a.) germ line genetic engineering, b.) robotics and c.) nanotechnology. He is convinced that our lives would become less meaningful and our humanity would be diminished if we fail to set reasonable limits. A thought ...more
Feb 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
McKibbem explores the frontiers of genetic engineering, nanotechnolgoy, etc., and identifies some watershed issues that progress is creating. He raises important (and scary) questions about where technolgoy is taking us and what it means to be human, and whether we risk losing that if technology takes us too far -- perhaps where we never intended to go. It's a look at current Frankensteins -- the unintended and irreversible consequences of technology. I wish I'd had a discussion group for this ...more
Nov 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting read about the dangers of genetic engineering and nanotechnology if left unchecked. The first few chapters focus on genetic engineering and nanotechnology, the final few chapters focus on some of the inhearent dangers of technology for technology's sake.

I felt that parts of the book were very well done, however I also felt that the overall point was made early in the book and that it could have been a lot shorter without losing its meaning.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book incredibly educational in teaching me just what is meant by terms like somatic gene therapy, germline genetic engineering, therapeutic cloning, stem cell research, nanotechnology, and others. I also found it a great exercise in pondering what would be lost if we accepted these technologies without limit. Very interesting to hear the future's envisioned by the advocates/engineers of such technologies and how they differ with the future hope found in Christianity.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it liked it
McKibben passionately articulates that we may be moving on an unsustainable path of technological advancement that could fundamentally change what it means to be human. My main qualm with this book is that he only focuses on nanotechnology and genetic enhancement: two technologies which are a ways off. Instead, I would like to read more about the development of cheap computers, etc. Which are a bit more relevant now. However, his analysis is spot on and enlightening.
Mar 30, 2009 rated it liked it
If I had realized this book was about the dangers of genetic engineering I never would have picked it up but the arguments were clear and can be applied to many other areas in today's world...that we are reaching the point where we need to say "enough."
Jessica Zu
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very deep reflections on technology and where it is leading us to. I urge everyone, especially people in science, read it carefully! Scientists have social responsibilities as well, we as a society cannot give scientists un-checked power, under the name of progress.
May 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Explores the perils of germ-line engineering, nanotech and robotics -- how it will reduce the "meaning" of what it is to be human. He believes we can choose to limit our use of technology. Interesting, scary, somewhat dull and heavy at times.
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
A really good meditation on what it means to be human, in the face of all the biotechnological advancement in our society. Germline manipulation is all the more real now, we do need to consider if meddling with our genes is truly what we want.
Mar 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Troubling, gripping, but ultimately uplifting. A celebration of what it means to be human. Seriously.
I consider myself a relatively well-informed environmentalist, but this book raises all-important issues about which, to my own detriment, I'd barely thought.
Shannon Reed
This book is not about what I thought it was going to be about. Yet, I still like it. So far.
Jun 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Challenging read, debating the pros and cons of genetic engineering.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
How far will it go? A well-articulated moral analysis of the future of technology.
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was written before the current age of technological overabundance. McKibben's words are more true than ever.
Alex Robinson
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Discusses some provocative ideas, mainly the question of if we can do something does that mean we *should* do something, especially in the area of tampering with genetics and computer power.
Jun 05, 2008 added it
This book supports what I was taught in Economics 101, i.e. that human wants are unlimited.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite of Bill McKibben's books (thus four instead of five stars) but still as worthy read. As I was thinking of a different book last week Our Posthuman Future, I was reminded of something that author wrote about genetic engineering and humans: some would be born with a saddle on their backs, while others would be born with spurs and a crop.

McKibben presents a thoughtful and detailed critique of what he calls 'post humanism': people who are either genetically, or technologically,
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Bill McKibben is the author of Eaarth, The End of Nature, Deep Economy, Enough, Fight Global Warming Now, The Bill McKibben Reader, and numerous other books. He is the founder of the environmental organizations Step It Up and, and was among the first to warn of the dangers of global warming. In 2010 The Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist," and Time ...more