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  • Written by Juan Enriquez
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  • Written by Juan Enriquez
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How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth

Written by Juan EnriquezAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Juan Enriquez


List Price: $11.99


On Sale: November 06, 2001
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-609-50446-8
Published by : Crown Business Religion/Business/Forum
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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.



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.


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.

From the Hardcover edition.
Juan Enriquez|Author Q&A

About Juan Enriquez

Juan Enriquez - As the Future Catches You

Photo © John Werner

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, a fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, and a peace negotiator during Mexico’s Zapatista rebellion. He has appeared on 60 Minutes, is the author of As the Future Catches You, and has published his work in Harvard Business Review, Foreign Policy, Science, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Boston Globe. Mr. Enriquez is the CEO of Biotechonomy, a life-sciences research and venture capital firm.

Author Q&A

Who do you see as your audience?
This book is for anyone who is curious about the future, and I hope it will spark debates around family dinner tables. No matter what Mom and Dad do for a living, or how much they know about science, they can read the book quickly and have a different take on what’s happening around the world. The same for their children, whether they’re in college or high school. Topics like genetic engineering and cloning are constantly in the news, and I want to help people understand them and wrestle with them.

Why did you use this unconventional format of bulleted facts mixed with charts and graphs and pictures?
Many people are afraid of science--they think it’s beyond them. Scientists reinforce this by cloaking their work in their own private language. As a result, we rarely understand and debate the greatest single driver of wealth and growth, which is knowledge. But today’s discoveries affect us all, so we have to frame the debate in terms everyone can understand and relate to.

Also science is fun and whimsical, and I really wanted the book to reflect this. I hope it can transmit some of the excitement I feel about the marvelous adventures going on in science and technology.

Your background is mostly in economics and international politics--how did you get so involved in genomics and other science topics?
I never intended to get involved, but during the course of my research I found that technological discontinuities are the greatest single driver of long-term economic success…or failure. And the ability to understand and apply gene research is probably the greatest single discontinuity we have seen since the Industrial Revolution.

Bigger than the Internet?

Yes. The digital revolution was just the beginning. The genomics revolution will be far more powerful.

Give us an example of that. How differently do you think medicine will be practiced in 20 or 30 years?
Medicine will evolve the way dentistry has evolved--from brute–force intervention to prevention. Your grandparents went to the dentist to get their teeth pulled. You went to get your teeth filled. Kids today go to get their teeth cleaned. A dentist’s office is now mainly a collection of hygienists because our mouths are a lot healthier--we need less intervention.

As we understand disease better, because we can map and attack microbes better, or because we can start to tell to which diseases we may be statistically more prone, we will live a lot longer and remain much healthier. We will carry genetic ID cards. Medicine will be personalized and preventive. We will need fewer and fewer surgeons

When you think about the future, what excites you the most and what frightens you the most?
We are acquiring direct and deliberate control over the evolution of most life–forms. This is a power that will allow us to feed more people, cure more people, and live far better lives. That’s very exciting. But it will also change the nature of things like warfare and terrorism, which of course is very frightening.

From the Hardcover edition.



"After reading As the Future Catches You, shocking propositions feel like common sense. Juan Enriquez will change your view of change itself." —Nicholas Negroponte, author of Being Digital

“By far the best book I know to help us understand and cope with the powerful technologies that are about to change every aspect of our lives.” —Roger Fisher, coauthor of Getting to Yes

“With amazing insight and a graphical, almost poetical style of writing, Enriquez describes how computers, genomics, and other new technologies are shaping our present and future.” —Hamilton O. Smith, Nobel laureate in medicine

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