Why are conditions like autism, asthma, obesity, and allergies exploding at unprecedented rates? Why are we living longer, getting smarter, having far fewer kids? If Darwin was alive today, how would he explain this new world?
Today's humans have developed such profound capabilities for redesigning bacteria, plants, animals, and ourselves that random mutation and natural selection are no longer the primary determinants of which species survive and how they change over time. Evolution is now increasingly driven by two forces: Unnatural Selection (what lives and dies has to do with human desires and choices, not the natural ability to reproduce and thrive) and Nonrandom Mutation (our techniques have gotten so precise that we can drastically alter the genetics of any life form).
Evolving Ourselves is a chronicle of how life is evolving to meet our specs and choices, of how we can change our own biology, and of the unintended consequences for future generations. It proves that how we use our enormous power over life forms and our ability to engineer new environments will determine nothing less than the survival of humanity.
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Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans are cofounders of Excel Venture Management, which builds start-ups in synthetic biology, big data, and new genetics technologies. Enriquez is a TED all-star and lectures around the world. Gullans was a professor at Harvard Medical School for 18 years and has published more than 130 scientific papers in leading journals. The authors live in Boston.