book | the Synthetic Age

Out-designing evolution, resurrecting species, and re-engineering our world.
September 1, 2020


— book —

book title: the Synthetic Age
deck: Out-designing evolution, resurrecting species, and re-engineering our world.
author: by Christopher Preston • PhD
date: 2018

this book on Good Reads | visit


— summary —

This book imagines a future where humans fundamentally re-shape the natural world — using nano-tech, synthetic biology, de-extinction, and climate engineering.

We’ve all heard there’s are no longer any places left on Earth untouched by humans. The significance of this goes beyond statistics documenting melting glaciers and shrinking species counts. It signals a new geological epoch. In his book the Synthetic Age author Christopher Preston argues that what’s most startling about this coming epoch isn’t just how much impact humans have had — but how much deliberate shaping we’ll begin to do.

Dawn of the Synthetic Age.

Emerging tech promises to give humanity the power to control nature’s basic operations. We’re exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene. But most importantly — we’re leaving behind the time when planetary change is the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. A world designed by engineers + technicians is the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age.

the book explores a range of tech that could re-configure Earth’s bio-sphere:

  • nano-tech — that can re-structure natural forms of matter
  • molecular manufacturing — that offers unlimited re-purposing
  • synthetic biology’s potential — to read + build a biological genome
  • biological mini-machines — that can out-design evolution
  • the re-location — of endangered species
  • the re-birth — of extinct species

and looks at climate engineering attempts:

  • manage solar radiation — by synthesizing a volcanic haze
  • cool surface temperatures — by increasing the brightness of clouds
  • remove carbon from the atmosphere — with artificial trees that capture carbon from the breeze

Our purpose-built future.

What does it mean when humans shift from being caretakers of the Earth — to being its shapers? Who should we trust to decide the contours of our synthetic future? These questions are too important to be left to chance.

about | Christopher Preston • PhD

1. |

group: by Carnegie Council
tag line: For ethics in international affairs.

publication: Ethics + International Affairs
tag line:
read | profile: Christopher Preston • PhD

— summary —

We help close the gap between theory + practice.

2. |

group: by Center for Humans + Nature
tag line: Expanding our natural + civic imagination.
tag line: asking questions • inspiring change

publication: Minding Nature
tag line: A journal exploring conservation values + the practice of ecological democratic citizenship.
read | profile: Christoper Preston • PhD

— summary —

We share ideas that foster a socially + ecologically inter-connected world.


1. |

group: by Aeon Media Group
tag line: A world of ideas.

publication: Aeon
tag line: A magazine of ideas + culture.

story title: Forget the Anthropocene, we’ve entered the synthetic age
author: by Christopher Preston • PhD
read | story

— summary —

There’s nowhere on Earth free from the traces of human activity. These planetary changes have been described by scientists as the end of one geological epoch: the Holocene — and the start of the next: the Anthropocene. In this new “human age” — civilization’s impact on the oceans, land, and atmosphere has become a feature of Earth.

Society is changing how the planet functions. Powerful new tech signals a potential take-over of Earth’s most basic operations by humans. From this time forward: bio-tech + climate engineering will transform the planet into an increasingly synthetic whole.

— notes —