As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth

As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth

by Juan Enriquez

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

If you think the world has changed dramatically in the last five years, you haven’t seen anything yet.

You will never look at the world in the same way after reading As the Future Catches You. Juan Enriquez puts you face to face with unprecedented political, ethical, economic, and financial issues, dramatically demonstrating the cascading impact of the genetic, digital, and knowledge revolutions on all our lives.

Genetics will be the dominant language of this century. Those who can “speak it” will acquire direct and deliberate control over all forms of life. But most countries and individuals remain illiterate in what is rapidly becoming the greatest single driver of the global economy. The choice is simple: Either learn to surf new and powerful waves of change—or get crushed trying to stop them. The future is catching us all. Let it catch you with your eyes wide open.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400047741
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/25/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Juan Enriquez has a career that spans business, domestic and international politics, and science. He was the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School and a fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. Enriquez has appeared on 60 Minutes and has published his work in Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Science, and the New York Times. His new book is The Untied States of America.

Read an Excerpt

MIXING APPLES, ORANGES, AND FLOPPY DISKS . . .

If it seems like your world has been topsy-turvy over the past few years . . .
Consider what's coming.

Your genetic code will be imprinted on an ID card . . .
For better and worse.

Medicines will be tailored to your genes and will help prevent specific diseases for which you may be at risk.
(But . . . your insurance company and your prospective employer may also find out that you are genetically disposed to, say, heart disease, or breast cancer, or Alzheimer's.)

Meanwhile, lone individuals are birthing not just companies but entire industries that rapidly become bigger than the economies of most countries.
But unlike growth industries of the past . . . cars and aerospace, for example . . . the industries that will dominate our future depend on just a few smart minds . . .
Not a lot of manpower . . .
So during a period of prosperity and economic growth . . .
Wealth is ever more mobile and concentrated.

You and your children are about to face a series of unprecedented moral, ethical, economic, and financial issues.

The choices you make will impact where you live, what you earn, what your grandchildren will look like, how long you live.

It all starts because we are mixing apples, oranges, and floppy disks.

Put an orange on your desk . . .
Next to a floppy disk or CD . . .
Although each seems very different today . . .
They are becoming one and the same.

Your computer runs on a code based on "1"s and "0"s.
If you change the order and number of these 1s and 0s . . .
By tapping the keyboard . . .
You capitalize a letter, change a sentence, send an e-mail, transmit a photograph or music.
The floppy disk is simply the container for these 1s and 0s.
But it is reading and rewriting the code inside that drives change.

As of 1995, we began to read the full gene sequence of . . .
Bacteria, insects, plants, animals, humans.
It is written in a four-letter code (A, T, C, G) . . .
If you change this code, just as if you change the code in a floppy disk or on a CD . . .
You change the message, the product, the outcome.

We are beginning to acquire...
Direct and deliberate control...
Over the evolution of all life forms...
On the planet...

Including ourselves.

The skin and pulp of the orange that sits on your desk . . .
Is just packaging . . .
What matters is the code contained in the seeds.
Each seed has a long string of gene data that looks like . . .
The seed guides growth, how a tree and its leaves develop . . .
The size, flavor, color, shape of fruits.
If you can read the code . . .
And rewrite it . . .
You can turn an orange into a vaccine, a contraceptive, a polyester.
Each of these things has already been done in corn.

Today, bananas and potatoes can vaccinate you against things like cholera, hepatitis, diarrhea.
You can harvest bulletproof fibers . . .
Grow medicines in tobacco.
And it's not just apples, oranges, and corn that are rapidly becoming different organisms.

Mosquitoes

are flying hypodermic needles.
They can infect you with malaria, dengue, and other awful things.
They do so by transferring a little bit of genetic code through their saliva . . .
Into your bloodstream . . .
Which then reprograms part of the way your cells operate . . .
By changing your genetic code ever so slightly . . .
In ways that can make you very sick.
So why not engineer mosquito genes so that they have the opposite effect?

If mosquito saliva contained antibodies . . .
Or if you made it hard for malaria to mutate inside a mosquito's body . . .
You could immunize people and animals . . .
By making sure they were bitten.
Because the language of genes (A, T, C, G) is the same for all creatures . . .
You can mix species.
If you are an artist, the genes that make jellyfish fluoresce at night . . .
Can be used to make a bunny glow under black light.
If you are an M.D., the same genes can be placed in monkeys to serve as markers . . .
Which help identify cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer.

By reading and rewriting the gene codes of bacteria, plants,
and animals . . .
We start to turn cells, seeds, and animal embryos into the equivalent of floppy disks . . .
Data sets that can be changed and rewritten to fulfill specific tasks.
We start deliberately mixing and matching apples and oranges . . .
Species . . .
Plants and animals.

These discoveries may seem distant, abstract, more than a little scary today.
But they will change the way you think about the world . . .
Where you work . . .
What you invest in . . .
The choices your children make about life . . .
What war looks like.

Many are unprepared for . . .
The violence and suddenness with which . . .
New technologies change . . .

Lives . . .

Companies . . .

Countries . . .


Because they do not understand what these technologies can do.

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