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Hacking Darwin

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I found it fascinating.

It informs you with boring you and using a kind of story to relate to the facts that are being discussed.

I highly recommend it for anyone interested in biology, medicine, science in general and the future
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This book offers some interesting thoughts and ideas about the near and far future of genetic engineering. I especially liked the questions about ethics, policies and the resulting geopolitical problems. 

The writing was easy to follow. The topics were broad, but I was missing the scientific depth.
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HACKING DARWIN by Jamie Metzl is subtitled "Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity." Earlier this year Metzl was appointed to the World Health Organization expert advisory committee on developing global standards for the governance and oversight of human genome editing and clearly feels a sense of urgency in addressing breakthroughs in genetic engineering. Obviously familiar with his subject, he includes chapters on "Decoding Identity," "Stealing Immortality from the Gods," and "The Ethics of Engineering Ourselves." Highly relevant to today's societal debates, Metzl contrasts practices and beliefs across generations and religions, commenting at one point: "it seems likely that parents will affirmatively want to screen out genetic diseases before their pregnancies even begin. Choosing from among preimplanted embryos in a lab will simply seem far less brutal than abortion."  Another example which Metzl highlights is the differences between countries, noting, "although China was far behind the West in assisted reproduction technologies only a decade ago, the country is showing the biggest global swing toward widespread acceptance of assisted reproduction."

HACKING DARWIN is a well-researched text; Metzl includes almost 40 pages of source notes, a helpful index, and suggestions for additional reading.  Our students – who tend to be highly interested in this topic and related CRISPR advances - will appreciate his note that "because the genetic revolution is unfolding so quickly, there are many incredible (and faster-moving) websites, blogs and podcasts that are essential resources very much worth exploring."
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Hacking Darwin was a fast and engrossing read about genetics and the technologies developed to work with them.

A great part of the book is spent on the ethics of gene editing methods, especially in the context of current developments and how we might use them in the future. It's an interesting topic, that isn't all clear. It has the potential to change many lives for the better, while at the same time being used in ways that would to harm.

Many chapters deal with possible scenarios that may seem like they're taken straight out of a sci-fi novel, but could technically become reality. The author did a great job at presenting different ideas and then leaving you to think about them. 

The writing was both easy to follow and entertaining to read. There are a lot of footnotes to other books and studies to follow up if interested. (It's not a novel about the technical aspects of biological engineering, if that's what you're looking.) It was up-to-date, which is particularly difficult in a science as fast evolving as genetic engineering.

My one minor complaint would be, that I felt the chapters could've been structured just slightly better. There was a red thread throughout the book and I know the topics are interacting at every structure, but sometimes it jumped from one topic to another a little to quick.

Other than that I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in genetics and the possibilities and dangers new technologies present to our society.
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Hacking Darwin presents an evenhanded look at the future of genetic intervention from a non-scientist’s point-of-view.

The first “test tube baby” was born using IVF in 1978. The human genome was fully sequenced in 2003. CRISPR, a method to cut and paste different genetic code into DNA, was developed in 1988 but first used on human cells in 2013. The combination of these three advances will soon allow IVF embryos to be selected for freedom from disease, hair/eye color, and gender. The ability to select based on IQ, longevity, or personality styles (i.e., extroversion or agreeableness) will soon follow. Basically, our DNA will become an IT product that can be hacked in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. 

There are many ethical issues inherent in this ability. Would only the rich be able to afford the cost of manipulating their offspring to be smarter than poorer offspring conceived the old fashioned way? Would one “look” be so popular that races are effectively wiped out? Would this allow an entire generation to be wiped out by a new disease for which they are not protected by natural selection? Will we trust artificial intelligence to make humans that are smarter than even they are?

Hacking Darwin is a thought-provoking treatise on decisions that will need to be made soon to achieve the best results in the future with genetic engineering.  The best part of this book is the author’s easy-to-read style. He uses examples of people in the future casually selecting their baby’s height and IQ. There is nothing so technical here that an average fiction reader cannot understand, or worse, have to Google. 

Perhaps it is because I’m a book blogger but I think this book would be a great resource for writers looking for ideas for a plot. There are a lot of unspoken “what ifs” in here. Would the genetically engineered younger children dominate the naturally made older ones? Would the smarter children be able to outsmart their parents? Could a disease wipe out a world made up of Kardashian clones? I’m not even an author so imagine what a real author could think up. For that reason, plus this is just a fascinating and well-written book, Hacking Darwin deserves 5 stars! I can’t wait to read it in twenty years and see how close or far it is from the truth then.

Thanks to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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A fascinating and thought provoking book that looks at some of the big questions surrounding the future of genetic engineering, Hacking Darwin by Jamie Metzl is an easy to read , but difficult to put down  look at where technology may take the human race. While the book does discuss the basics of the science and technology involved, the real focus is on the sociological impact and the ethical dilemmas that will face the human race in years to come. It is clear that the author has invested a great deal of time, research and thought into the book, and this is to our benefit as readers, as it makes it very easy for the lay reader to understand, there is no need to have a background knowledge of the science.  He focuses on the many possible future outcomes based on the technology that is in use today, and the rate at which discoveries and developments are being made, with the goal of getting people to think, and talk about what the future should be.  From genetic engineering and GMO crops to the medical field with IVF, genetic testing and even gene based therapies, Metzl asks important questions designed to make us think about what is the best and most responsible way to regulate this increasingly important field of scientific development. Using an analogy of the problem that nations around the glove have had in dealing with climate change, he is advocating that the human race needs to get ahead of this issue and work together to create a unified set of standards for use of genetic engineering techniques 
Although he is cautiously optimistic about many of the potential applications , he also does consider the negatives so there is some degree of balance to the arguments being posed. 
I read and reviewed an ARC  courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher,all opinions are my own.
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This book is not heavy on the actual science details—if you’re looking for those, you’ll be better to get another book, but if you don’t know that much about genetics, then there won’t be anything in there impossible to follow. It focuses instead on the various advances in genetics in terms of “what do they do”, “what do they entail”, “what could the results be”, and “how should be approach those?” (You can tell that the author has also written novels, because there’s a definitive storytelling thread throughout some of the chapters, especially when he deals with IVF and the potential of modifying embryos to make their future selves healthier. This makes the reading all the more accessible and enjoyable.)

You can also tell that Jamie Metzl is probably more on the side of advocating gene-related manipulations than on the side of those who want them banned, but in a cautious way: it’s not all enthusiasm and sparks and giggles, and for every “good point” he lists, he also takes care to consider the negative sides (or potentially negative sides, since there are still many approaches that haven’t been tested, so we just have no idea how people would react when given the choice). And it is true that while the transhumanist in me is excited at so many prospects, the cynic is me is also convinced that, like we so many other things, humanity in general will bork its way through this and pervert it. But let’s keep hope, shall we?

“Hacking Darwin” considers the therapeutic potential of genetic intervention. Through current techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, we are already able to cut material that leading to genetic diseases, although this hasn’t been approved so far on human embryos destined to be implanted, because the results are good, but more on a “60% good” scale than on a “95% good” one. Which leads to understandable caution about all this, and with reason. There is something frightening and sublime (in the philosophical and literary meanings of the word) to all these developing technologies, because when we contemplate them, we are put face to face with how we are, all in all, code; and code can be hacked, and modified, and this could be for the best or for the worst.

The best: if we had a chance of preventing babies with genes condemning them to Alzheimer’s or to Huntington’s disease, for instance, shouldn’t we take it and thus prevent future suffering? If we can make crops that yield more nutrients (Golden Rice comes to mind, and is actually even mentioned), shouldn’t we do it, so that people dying of malnutrition illnesses can get a chance at life? And if we could give our future children better health and strength in general, better chances in their future lifes through specific abilities, wouldn’t we want to do that? But the worst, too: who’s to tell that this won’t spiral downward (eugenics and the earluy 20th century come to mind), lead to less diversity (not a good thing), to people all wanting the same kind of child—or, perhaps more alarmingly, to a growing chasm between those who can afford to enhance tyheir future babies, and those who can, thus leading to a class of “superhumans” trampling “subhumans”?

The book considers these aspects, and other ones as well, including the major religion’s take on it (you’d be surprised at some of them) and approaches and pitfalls that humanity as a whole must consider here. It doesn’t hold all the answers, far from it. But it gives you a lot of food for thought. And even though it is perhaps too optimistic (again, seeing the world as it is today, I just don’t trust us in general to avoid creating worst societies based on even more inequalities, this time from before the womb), it does remain a very interesting start for more discussions about genetic engineering.

4.5 stars
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Thank you Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a very well written and easy to understand book. The author offers insightful ideas and researched data to support the future of genetically modified humans. Although at times it sounded right out of a sci-fi movie many of the  ideas he proposes are happening today like the normalization and use of IVF. It won't be long before we will be able to select things like physical traits, IQ and so forth. Scary but technology is fast approaching a time where we will be capable of evolving and becoming more than we are.
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An interesting and fascinating book about an interesting and fascinating topic.
I liked the style of writing, the clear explanations and how the author is able to talk about very complex topics in a clear and engaging mode.
This book is a lot of food for thought, highly recommended!
Many thanks to SOURCEBOOKS and Netgalley for this ARC. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book, all opinions are mine.
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Every few years, I read a futurist's breathless prognostications for our genetically enhanced future, a world of diseases cured, humans enhanced, and humanity reconfigured. "Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity" by Jamie Metzl, and yes, he is a futurist, is the most sprightly, clear predictive extravaganza of them all. Metzl startled me early by pointing out that IVF involves giving parents the choice between the eggs at their disposal, in effect selecting amongst alternative genes, and he quickly points out that this will inevitably lead to expanding the number of eggs and expanding parents' God-like capabilities. From there, he explores the entire gamut of accelerating technologies that will be available to "hack" or engineer humans' genetic make-up. Metzl does a great job in organizing the book intelligently and his writing style is cogent and stylish. I noted that on any genetic issue, he cycles through pointing out the risks (personal and societal) and encouraging oversight, before edging us towards believing that we won't be able to resist the amazing new machinery. By the end, I had enough material to plot a dozen sci-fi books, I felt excited, I had experienced dread, and my mind buzzed. What more could I ask of such a book?
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Excellent, optimistic look at all facets of genetic engineering

This book has everything I want: ethics, politics, history, and science - all wrapped up in a very readable story. I loved this book. Author Jamie Metzl is a great writer and he explains all the issues with genetic engineering in a conversational tone, with well-explained science, and with a good sense of humor. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in the topic.
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This is a book which one should pickup to get full view of how; possibly humans are playing God by deciphering, altering and utilizing eternal code of life- DNA.
All over the world there is exponential progress in the field of genetic engineering which is making possible, mastering of techniques like producing eggs from somatic cells, growing organs in lab, repairing genetic defects and producing engineered embryos.
Book is big testament in the field of genetic engineering and stem cell research. It is engaging, interesting and informative with very less jargon.
Its breadth of topics is staggering and it covers extremely wide range of information from prehistorical times to latest research in the field of Dna editing and eugenics.
Not only does book informs but also forces reader to think and imagine possible scenarios possible.
.It compres past with present and then with future intelligently.
Author has deep knowledge in this field and all great scientists around the world who are working in labs tirelessly, get a appreciative mention.
.Their is criticism to ever failing human intentions including deterimental effects of Trump's decisions on fields of research and environmental conservation.
.This is the book that is sufficient for gathering Last 50 years of relevant information in the field of human experimentation with our DNA.
.Highly recommend work for science buffs, especially you will love it if you have medical background.
Thanks netgalley and publisher for review copy in exchange of honest review.
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A very readable, relentlessly optimistic book about the future of genetic engineering and how it may be applied to human reproduction. 
	Jamie Metzl knows his subject matter very well and is an experienced writer: one does not need to have much familiarity with how human genome works or what the current state of science on the matter is to grasp his arguments. He covers a wide array of loosely related topics: genetic engineering, iPC research, IVF, embryo selection, genetic diseases, GMOs, political handling of all those, what “nature” means in such a context… His ultimate goal is to mobilize his readers to consider genetic engineering in human reproduction and spur productive discussions about it, since it is just around the corner, and to this end the book is a great tool and resource. 
	Unfortunately, my pessimism is almost as bottomless as Metzl’s optimism, and a lot of his exuberantly hopeful claims smashed against my entrenched suspicions about the goodness of humanity. I found the brief chapter on social and political dimensions of the genetic engineering revolution (evolution?) he foresees particularly disconcerting. He does acknowledge the current inequality within first world countries and globally, but does not offer any realistic prognoses or sound advice on how genetic science could and should proceed on such terrain. Metzl limits himself to virtuous claims about how flawed our current social order and moral judgements are, and how they could use a critical eye and rethinking, but does not advance further towards how that could be achieved and what the absence of such rethinking would mean for the genetically advancing future of humanity. I see a world divided not just by wealth and technological progress, but by sheer physical fitness, and so does Metzl, but he does not explore this potential future further, simply stating its possible emergence, prescribing critical thinking as an antidote. I think such blasé attitude towards this most realistic of the futures is irresponsible and wish the social, political and financial consequences of genetically engineering humans were explored further in the book.
	Despite this shortcoming, “Hacking Darwin” is absolutely worth a read. It is educational, interesting and pleasantly written, and is capable of starting necessary discussions, as it has between my friends and I. I tip my hat to Jamie Metzl for that success.
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A very interesting read about the possible hurdles and problems that will arise with the future use of human genetic engineering.  And they will definitely arise because we humans won't be able to stop ourselves.
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4.5 Stars

Hacking Darwin takes a look at the current status of genetic engineering, as well as the possible and probable future uses of these tools, ethics, and the future of humanity.  Metzl has written an engaging, fascinating and thought-provoking book that focuses on the fast approaching and inevitable (and exiting) genetic revolution, with clear explanations of the tools involved and the consequences of their use.  The writing is clear, explanations accurate and not too technical for the general interested reader.

This book covers a vast array of topics that fall under the genetic engineering umbrella.  He starts off with the history of genetic research, IVF, genetic screening; and continues with the relationship between genetics, diseases, traits, the environment; AI tools to process complex genetic patters; the pros and cons of the genetic engineering tools; "designer babies"; stem-cell research; mitochondrial disease; multiple donar babies; gene-editing tools such as CRISPR;  gene-therapy; safety issues and challenges to the current technology; chimeras; organ transplants; synthetic biology; aging; the ethics and responsibility of using genetic engineering tool; our relationship with nature; GMOs; the arms race of the human race; and finaly, the furture of humanity.

Metzl states that his intent is to inform the public about the genetic revolution so that we can "make the smartest collective decisions about our war forward... to understand what is happening and what's at stake."  Genetic entineering is a tool.  The genetic revolution has the potential to improve lives or do great harm.  The future of humanity depends on how we use it.
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A book on genetic engineering could have easily earned five stars because this is such an interesting and timely topic but James Metzi's effort fell well short of this goal.. First, Mr. Metzi writes like a ninth grade boy -- deduct one star. Second, his chapters are thoroughly disorganized -- deduct another star. And the last chapter was total nonsense --  deduct a third star. Overall, Hacking Darwin was a lost opportunity.
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