The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human

March 17, 2017
author |
Adam Piore
year published |

In this accessible work on bioengineering, former Newsweek editor Piore documents where humans stand in our attempt to borrow—and build on—nature’s “sublime” healing solutions, which have been “refined by evolution over billions of years.” Piore’s aim is not to offer a clinical tome on scientific progress, but to reveal the “human spirit” that undergirds the search for ways to heal an array of debilitating physical and mental injuries and impairments. He checks in with researchers exploring a number of new technologies, including electrical deep brain stimulation, bionics derived from reverse-engineering the human body, and altering genetic details through “gene doping.” Piore also speaks to scientists tinkering with the human brain, “the world’s most sophisticated pattern recognition machine,” which plays a role in “amazing feats of associative learning” such as intuition and the ability of blind people to “see” when exposed to “soundscapes.” Piore makes a few overstatements, as when he writes that the human body “has been honed over millennia for maximum efficiency,” but his central conceit—that scientists may soon be successfully “hacking” the human body—is on point. Piore writes gracefully, and with deep insight, about complex scientific endeavors that could ease human suffering but are fraught with myriad ethical perils. (Mar.)

—Publishers Weekly