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Unnatural Selection

Why the Geeks Will Inherit the Earth

Unnatural Selection is the first book to examine the rise of the "technocentric being"—or geek—who personifies a distinct new phase in human evolution. People considered geeks often have behavioral or genetic traits that were previously considered detrimental. But the new environment of the Anthropocene period—the Age of Man—has created a kind of digital greenhouse that actually favors their traits, enabling many non-neurotypical people to bloom. They resonate with the technological Zeitgeist in a way that turns their weaknesses into strengths. Think of Mark Zuckerberg versus the towering, Olympics-bound Winklevoss twins in the movie Social Network.

Roeder suggests that the rise of the geek is not so much the product of Darwinian "natural selection" as of man-made—or unnatural—selection. He explains why geeks have become so phenomenally successful in such a short time and why the process will further accelerate, driven by breakthroughs in genetic engineering, neuropharmacology, and artificial intelligence. His book offers a fascinating synthesis of the latest trends in these fields and predicts a twenty-first century "cognitive arms race" in which new technology will enable everyone to become more intelligent and "geek-like."

“Unnatural Selection paints a compelling picture of human adaptability, identifying new traits within all of us that are helping us to survive and succeed in a climate-controlled world dominated by information. This is not just wishful thinking for geeks—technology is changing the landscape of society, and Roeder describes how humanity is changing along with it.”
—Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis

“Everyone knows that the kinds of people that would have been rejected as social outcasts in the 1950s—the shy science nerds, persnickety math geeks, obsessive recluses who turned their parents' garages into labs—have transformed the way we live in the past twenty years, quietly rising to positions of great power in the process. In this provocative book, Mark Roeder explains how they have become a social force driving a new kind of human evolution.”
—Steve Silberman, editor, Wired magazine

“It is becoming evident that our great technical achievements have far outstripped our capacity to evolve socially and emotionally, leaving us unable to connect with ourselves and with others, lonely yet terrified of true intimacy and lacking the tools to form meaningful relationships. In Unnatural Selection, Mark Roeder has brought scholarship and prescience to understanding this dehumanizing challenge and in then finding a ‘middle way’ to use technology for our benefit and not be used by it. This is a most important book for our times.”
—Peter A Levine, PhD, bestselling author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, and In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

“Roeder’s excellent book is thought-provoking and enjoyable—it provides a fresh perspective on human progress.”
—Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology, University of Cambridge, UK, director of the Autism Research Centre, and Fellow of Trinity College

“An entertaining and engrossing read. Roeder smartly integrates evolution, genetics and cognitive science to show how the rise of the geek is inevitable— and well under way. It’s a fabulous book about human destiny.”
—Rob Brooks, professor of evolutionary biology and prize-winning author of Sex, Genes, and Rock ’n Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World

"A thoughtful, contemplative treatise told with wit and wisdom."—Publishers Weekly

“Unnatural Selection paints a compelling picture of human adaptability, identifying new traits within all of us that are helping us to survive and succeed in a climate-controlled world dominated by information. This is not just wishful thinking for geeks—technology is changing the landscape of society, and Roeder describes how humanity is changing along with it.”
—Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis

“Everyone knows that the kinds of people that would have been rejected as social outcasts in the 1950s—the shy science nerds, persnickety math geeks, obsessive recluses who turned their parents' garages into labs—have transformed the way we live in the past twenty years, quietly rising to positions of great power in the process. In this provocative book, Mark Roeder explains how they have become a social force driving a new kind of human evolution.”
—Steve Silberman, editor, Wired magazine

“It is becoming evident that our great technical achievements have far outstripped our capacity to evolve socially and emotionally, leaving us unable to connect with ourselves and with others, lonely yet terrified of true intimacy and lacking the tools to form meaningful relationships. In Unnatural Selection, Mark Roeder has brought scholarship and prescience to understanding this dehumanizing challenge and in then finding a ‘middle way’ to use technology for our benefit and not be used by it. This is a most important book for our times.”
—Peter A Levine, PhD, bestselling author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, and In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

“Roeder’s excellent book is thought-provoking and enjoyable—it provides a fresh perspective on human progress.”
—Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology, University of Cambridge, UK, director of the Autism Research Centre, and Fellow of Trinity College

“An entertaining and engrossing read. Roeder smartly integrates evolution, genetics and cognitive science to show how the rise of the geek is inevitable— and well under way. It’s a fabulous book about human destiny.”
—Rob Brooks, professor of evolutionary biology and prize-winning author of Sex, Genes, and Rock ’n Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World

"A thoughtful, contemplative treatise told with wit and wisdom."—Publishers Weekly