Big Systems

Radical Evolution

What humans can be

It isn’t often an author gets to herald the biggest news in the last 10,000 years. But you’ll get the full, uncensored, mind-blowing report here in this entertaining and surprisingly deep book. Meet soldiers who don’t sleep, animals controlled with joy sticks, computers controlled by merely thinking, the blind driving cars, and parents designing their kids — and that is just what is happening right now. Veteran scout Joel Garreau prepares ordinary readers for the ultimate question of this century: Who do you think we should be? He makes it clear that as of today, human nature is now under the control of humans, and we ARE doing something about it — but we aren’t aware of it. To guide you through this boggle Garreau offers astonishments, conundrums, and sanity.

— KK

Radical Evolution
The Promise and Peril of Enhancing our Minds, our Bodies — and What it Means to be Human
Joel Garreau
2004, 384 pages
Available from

Sample excerpt:

The first telekinetic monkey that DARPA funded is named Belle. Belle is a cute monkey — an owl monkey, tiny, with huge brown globular eyes framed in white ovals two-thirds the size of her head. Her fur is russet and gray. Belle is astonishingly quick. One of her accomplishments is her prowess at an electronic game. She intently watches a horizontal series of lights in her lab at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. She knows that if a light suddenly shines and she moves her joystick left or right to correspond to its position, she gets a drop of fruit juice. Treats may not matter now, though. She’s gotten way into the game.

Belle is not really telepathic, strictly speaking. That would mean that she could communicate form her mind directly to another mind. DARPA’s researchers haven’t gotten that far — yet. Although Michael Goldblatt clan clearly see how they might.

Belle is telekinetic. That means that simply by thinking, she can get a mechanical arm far away — in Massachusetts, in fact — instantly to move exactly the way her mind commands. Her Duke researchers line up probes thinner than the finest sewing thread right next to individual neurons in different regions of Belle’s motor cortex — the part of the brain that plans movements. These are linked to two computers, one in the next room and another 600 miles north, at MIT, via the Internet. The computers each control a robotic arm. Then the researchers disconnect her joystick and start Belle’s game. Sure enough, not only is she able to play it splendidly using just her thoughts, but the two robotic arms instantly mimic the motions that Belle’s arm would make to control the joystick, “like dancers choreographed by the electrical impulses sparking in Belle’s mind,” her researchers report. The first time she did it, the two labs, in North Carolina and New England, erupted into loud celebration.


“Special Forces guys working a 14-hour day are going to burn 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day. If we increase it to 24 hours a day” — that would be if Carney’s program works and these guys don’t sleep — “they’re going to need 12,000 calories a day. You can’t eat that much. Well, you can, but you’re not going to feel good about it. It boils down to one Meal, Ready to Eat, and 46 PowerBars. You can’t eat 46 PowerBars in a day. You can’t even carry’em. And so the question is, if we can only get 15-20 percent of your calories into you in a rational way, why put any into you at all? Why not, say, live off of what you’ve got? We’ve all stored calories — we just don’t have access to them right now. So this is about improving the muscle and mitochondria so they can utilize the energy that’s available. Maybe instead of deploying you lean and mean, we deploy you mean and plump.


The demographic lag between those who use the Internet in developing countries and those who use it in the United States was about five years, the Canadian researchers reported. This technology is getting to the masses a lot faster than did electricity, radio, washing machines, refrigerators, television, air conditioners and automobiles.


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