【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#20 Engineering

🇺🇸English✕ 上級日本語🇯🇵

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#20


For English learners!

Hello everyone, how’s your English learning journey going?😃 Reading an English book is sometimes a long journey. You might inadvertently stop if you are alone. But no worries. You are at the right place already. I would like to explore an English book here so that you can try reading the book with me. We are not alone. Let’s enjoy a fun time reading!

The book, which I picked up this time, is called Sapiens, published by Yuval Noah Harari. The Amazon Kindle link below allows you to read up to chapter 3. Today, I am covering the last chapter, chapter 20.

You can check out my recommending strategy of reading as well as a bit of information about this book with a link below. Okay then, let’s get started📖






Ch.20 End of Homo Sapiens

🦧第20章 超ホモ・サピエンスの時代へ

Grasp the structure!🦧構成を把握する

To grasp the chapter, you just try to see its hierarchical configuration. I strongly recommend drawing it either physically or virtually.


All living beings are subject to the same limits, and Sapiens are incapable of breaking free of them.

Biologically determined limits
  • physical forces
  • chemical reactions
  • natural-selection processes

For close to 4 billion years, every single organism evolved subject to natural selection. Not even one was designed by an intelligent creator.

Intelligent design
  • for billions of years, it was not even an option
  • there were no intelligence, which could design things
  • what they can
    • to incorporate genetic codes from a completely different species into its cell
    • to gain new capabilities
  • whay they do NOT have
    • no consciousness
    • no aims in life
    • no ability to plan ahead
Steps to become an intelligent creator
  • the first crack: the Agricultural Revolution
    • made chicken fatter and slower: to detour around and accelerate the natural-selection processes
  • Today
    • scientists engineer living beings
    • they break the laws of natural selection with impunity, umbridled by an organisms original characteristics
A Brasilian bio artist’s work
  • Eduardo Kac decided in 2000 to create a new work of art
  • he offered a French laboratory a fee to engineer a radiant bunny
  • the loboratory scientists took a white rabbit embryo and implanted in its DAN a gene taken from a green fluorescent jellyfish
  • Kac named the rabbit Alba
A New Cosmic Era
  • it is impossible to explain the existence of Alba through the laws of natural selection
  • Alba is the product of intelligent design
  • it is also a harbinger of things to come
  • the Scientific Revolution may turn out to be the most important biological revolution
  • Alba stands at the dawn of a new cosmic era, in which ruled by intelligent design
  • this process should be understood from a cosmic perspective of billions of years, rather than from a human perspective of millennia
  • biologists are locked in battle with the intelligent-design movement
Intelligent design
  • biological engineering
  • cyborg engineering
  • engineering of inorganic life

 🚧工事中 🚧

Biological engineering
  • deliberate human intervention to aim at modifying:
    • organisms shape
    • capabilities
    • needs or desires
  • determined by some preconceived cultural idea
    • e.g.) Eduardo Kac’s rabbit Alba
  • use it for millennia
    • e.g.) castrating to create oxen from bulls, soprano singers, and eunuchs
  • recent advances down to the cellular and nuclear levels
    • e.g.) change one’s sex through surgical and hormonal treatments
    • e.g.) implanted cattle cartilage cells on a mouse’s back for aiming to manifacture artificial ears
  • raises a host of ethical, political, and ideological issues
    • create superhuman that make serfs of us
    • apocalyps of bio-dictatorships
    • ability of modify genes is outpacing our capacity
Today: the weakest political lobbies
  • E.coli: a bacterium
    • genetically engineered to produce biofuel
  • Arctic fish
    • inserted into potates, making the plants more frost-resistant
  • dairy-cow
    • genetically engineered cows whose milk contains lysostaphin, a biochemical that resistant for the mastitis
  • pork industory
    • hopes for a still-experimental line of pigs implanted with genetic material from a worm, which causes pigs to turn bad omega 6 fatty acid into its healthy cousin, omega 3.
  • voles: small, staut mostly promiscuous rodents
    • one species form lasting monogamous relationships
    • scientists isolated the gens responsible for vole monogamy
    • if this becomes applicable, it could mean we can engineer the social structures beyond the individual abilities

 🚧工事中 🚧

Revive extinct creatures
  • Monnmoth
    • scientists has mapped the genome of ancient mannmoths, found frozen in the Siberian ice
    • they now plan to take a gertilized egg-cell of a present-day elephant, replace the elephantine DNA with a reconstructed mammoth DAN, and implant the egg in the womb of an elephant
  • Neanderthal
    • Professor George Church of Harvard University
    • the Neanderthal Genome Project
    • suggest to implant reconstructed Neanderthal DAN into a Sapiens ovum, thus producing the first Neanderthal child
    • a moral duty to resurrect them?
    • indusrialists would be glad to pay one Neanderthal to do the menial work of two Sapiens
Design a better Sapiens
  • might enable us to make far-reaching alterations
    • physiology
    • immune system
    • life expectancy
    • intellectual
    • emotional capacities
No insurmountable barrier
  • ethical and political objections
    • can slow down research on human
    • it is useless at stake of the possibility of…
      • prolonging humn life indifinitely
      • conquering incurable diseases
      • upgrading our cognitive and emotional abilities
  • a side benefit
    • what if a cure for alzheimer’s disease is developed, and a side benefit could dramatically improve the memories of healthy people?
    • would anyone be able to halt the relevant research?

 🚧工事中 🚧

Bionic Life
  • What are cyborgs?
    • beings which combine organic and inorganic parts
    • having inorganic features that are inseparable from its body, features that modify abilities, desires, personalities, and identities
  • Are humans bionic?
    • humans natural senses and functions are supplemented by devices:
      • eyeglasses
      • pacemakers
      • orthotics
      • computers, mobile phones
    • humans stand poised on the brink of becoming true cyborgs
Under development projects
  • US military (The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
    • cyborgs out of insects
    • controling the insect’s movements remotely
    • evesdropping on the most secret conversations
  • US Naval Undersea Warfare Center
    • cyborg sharks via a fish tag
    • controling host animals via neural implants
    • identifying underwater electromagnetic field by exploiting the natural magnetic detecting capabilities of sharks
  • hearing aids
    • bionic ears
    • a microphone located in the outer part of the ear
    • translating sounds into electric signals that are sent directly to the central auditory nerve and from there to brain
  • Retina Implant: a government-sponsored German company
    • developing a a retinal proshesis
    • allowing blind people to gain partial vision
    • implanting a small microchip inside the eye
    • at present, the technology allows patients to orientate themselves in space, identify letters, and even recognize faces
  • Jesse Sullivan: an American electrician
    • who lost both arms up to the shoulder in a 2001 accident
    • uses two bionic arms
    • the arems are operated by thought alone
    • we will soon be able to transmit signals back to the brain, thereby enabling amputees to regain even the sensation of touch
    • at present, a poor replacement for organic originals
    • they have potential for unlimited development
  • Duke University’s research
    • rhesus monkeys whose brains have been implanted with electrodes
    • the monkeys have been trained to control detached bionic arms and legs through thought alone
    • patients of locked-in syndrome have had brain-signal-gathering electrodes implanted. If the experiments suceed, locked-in patients could finally speak directly with the outside world.
    • we might eventually be able to use the technology to read other peoples minds
  • the most revolutionary attempt
    • to devise a direct two-way brain-computer interface that will allow computers to read the electrical signals of a human brain, simultaneously transmitting signals that the brain can read in turn
    • what might happen to human memory, human consciousness, and human identity if the brain has direct access to a collective memory bank?
    • what happen to concepts such as the self and gender identity when minds become collective?
    • it would be no longer human, but fundamentally another kind of being that we cannot even grasp the philosophical, psychological, or political implications

 🚧工事中 🚧

complete inorganic beings
  • computer programs and computer viruses
  • genetic programming
    • try to emulate the methods of genetic evolution
    • evolve completely independently of its creator
  • a prototype
    • a computer virus
    • when it replicates itself, a mistaken occurs; a computerised mutation, then the mutation will survive and reproduce
    • cyberspace would be full of new viruses that nobody engineered, and that undergo non-organic evolution
    • produced by a new evolutionary process, completely independent of the laws and limitations of organic evolution
The Human Brain Project
  • founded in 2005
  • hopes to recreate a complete human brain inside a computer, with electronic computer emulating neural networks in the brain
  • within a decade or two, we could have an artificial human brain inside a computer could talk and behave very much as a human does
  • it will mean that life will suddenly break out into the vastness of the inorganic realm
  • in 2013, the project received a grant of €1 billion from the EU
  •  🚧工事中 🚧

The world of 2014
  • culture is releasing itself from the shackles of biology
  • the ability to engineer:
    • the world around us
    • above all the world inside our bodies and minds
The conundrums of engineering
  • lawyers need to rethink issues of privacy and identity
  • goverments are faced with rethinking matters of health care and equality
  • sports associations and educational institutions need to redefine fair play and achievement
  • pension funds and labor markets should readjust to a world in which sixty might be the new thirty
  • would insurance companies be entitled to ask for our DNA scans and ti raise premiums?
  • would we be required to fax our DNA to potential employers?
  • could we sue in such cases for ‘genetic discrimination’?
  • what might happen once medicine becomes preoccupied with enhancing human abilities?
The potential of the future
  • The futre might be poised to create the most unequal of all societies
    • the opposite to our late modern world which prides itself on recognizing the basic equality of all humans
  • future technologies has potential to change Sapiens itself, including their emotions and desires
    • an eternally young cyborg
    • abilities to focus and remember are a thousand times greater than our own
    • never angry or sad
  • Physicists define the Big Bang as a singularity
    • a point at which all the known laws of nature did not exist
  • A new singularity
    • when all the concepts that give meaning to our world – me, you, men, women, love, and hate – will become irrelevant
    • anything happening beyond that point is meaningless to us
  • written by Mary Shelley, in 1818
  • an artificial being goes out of control and wreakes hovoc
  • a central pillar of new scientific mythology
  • if we try to play God and engineer life we will be punished severely
  • Frankenstein was such a terrible monster that we had to destroy it
    • implies that Sapiens are the best of all being
    • implies any attempt to improve us will inevitably fail
    • implies we believe we cannot touch the human spirit
The last days are approaching
  • the replacement of Sapiens by completely different beings
    • who possess not only different physiques
    • who possess but also very different cognitive and emotional worlds
  • extremely disconcerting
    • we’d like to believe that people in the futre are just like us
    • our place will be taken by alien life forms whose abilities dwarf our own
  • scientists could engineer spirits as well as bodies
    • future Dr Frankensteins could create something that will look at us as condescendingly as we look at the Neanderthals
History tells us
  • what seems to be just around the corner may never materialize
    • by the end of the 20th century, people would be living in space colonies
  • due to unforseen barriers, other unimagined scenarios will in fact come to puss
    • nobody foresaw the Internet
  • the next stage of history will include:
    • not only technological and organisational transformations
    • but also fundamental transformations in human consciousness and identity
Human Enhancement Question
  • what do we want to become?
  • today’s religions, ideologies, nations, and classes will in all likelihood disappear
  • we cannot stop the scientific projects that upgrading Sapiens into a different kind of being
  • why do scientists study the genome, try to connect a brain to a computer, try to create a mind inside a computer?
    • standard justification: we are doing it to cure diseases and save human lives
    • Dr Frankenstein piggybacks on the sholders of Gilgamesh Project
    • ignoring far more dramatic potential implications than curing psychiatric illnesses
What we can do?
  • try to influence the direction that scientists are taking
  • contemplate what do we want to want?
Sapiens before and today
  • 70,000years ago
    • an insignificant animal
  • in the following millennia
    • transformed itself into the master of the entire planet
  • Today
    • stands on the verge of becoming a god
  • positive
    • mastered its surroundings
    • increased food production
    • built cities
    • established empires
    • created far-flung trade networks
    • reduction of famine, plague, and war
  • negative
    • not improve the well-being of individual
    • cause immense misery to other animals
    • Sapiens remains unsure of their goals
    • Sapiens seems to be as discontented as ever
    • nobody knows where we’re going
    • have little idea what to do with all power
    • seek little more than their comfort and amusement, yet never finding satisfaction

Summarize the chapter concisely🦧章を一言でまとめる

To summarize, check the hierarchical configuration and make sentences with important points of each.


Before, all living beings are subject to biologically determined limits. Today, however, Sapiens have attained capabilities of engineering design by intelligence. This might turn out to be the biological revolution, which is the shift from natural selection to intelligent-design, throughout 4 billion years.

The first of the three ways: Biological engineering for living organisms. Engineer genes and modify shapes, capabilities, needs, or desires. Biological engineering also is applied to extinct beings. While capabilities grow, there are no insurmountable barriers to it.

The second of the three ways: Cyborg engineering, which combines organic and inorganic parts. It would be fundamentally another kind of being when the brain can not only transmit signals that the brain can read in turn, but also receive the electrical signals.

The third of the three ways: Engineering inorganic life. A computer virus is one of them. Engineering an artificial human brain inside of a computer.

The Frankenstein story went under the condition that Sapiens never touch the human spirits, however, scientists could engineer spirits as well as bodies. Sapiens need to think about what do they want to want since it cannot be stopped easily once it is begun.

The animal who never get satisfied and never know what want to do with their power is irresponsible to anyone and likely to wreak havoc on their fellow animals and on the surrounding ecosystem.







Make questions to discuss🦧ディスカッション用の質問を作ろう

Thematic question テーマに関する質問

What is the message beyond this presentation? What are the greater issues or questions this piece deals with?

The presentation is not directly referenced in the question. There are many possible answers found outside of the presentation, but it’s a starting point.



My opinion: I agree with it. The Sapiens’ achievement of engineering will become significant and irregular throughout the history of biology. Organisms who can control their own shapes, behaviors, and feelings would be superior. This would lead to another point that one kind of animal can surpass its biological limits for the first time in history. I imagine engineering would create another level of hierarchy from the current social division which was initially created by Sapiens’ ability to devise imagined orders. Sapiens would be able to choose the gender completely. It would greatly impact gender division. Beauty, youthfulness, gender, sexuality, intelligence would become something one attains through engineering and wealth. This would greatly increase one’s expectations of life and therefore would result in decreased satisfaction. Happiness would become hardly attainable. To sum it up, I think engineering would bring Sapiens a never before unpleasant life.


To discuss, make questions. It gives you a great topic to talk about in English.


five questions for discussion🦧ディスカッション用の5つの質問

How does this make me feel? What does it remind me of?

There are many correct answers that are related to one’s experience; they can be found outside of the text/speech.

  • Have you ever…?
  • Does it make you angry when…?
  • Which part did you like?
  • How hard was this to understand?



  • こんな経験ありますか
  • こんなとき、怒った気持ちになりますか
  • どのパートが気に入りましたか
  • これを理解するのは難しかったですか

What does it say?

One correct answer is found in the text.

  • Who is …?
  • What happens first?
  • Where are …?
  • What is the difinition of this word?



  • これは誰?
  • 何が最初に起きた?
  • これはどこですか?
  • この言葉の定義はなんですか?

What does it mean? How are the parts connected? what is the reason for people’s actions?

There is more than one possible answer, but the viewer’s opinion is based directly on the text.

  • Why did the speaker…?
  • What can we say about the speaker’s point of view?
  • What is the significance of the title?
  • What did the speaker mean when they said…?



  • どうして話者は...?
  • 話者の視点について、どんなことが言えますか。
  • タイトルにはどんな意味があるでしょう。
  • 話者が...といったのはどういう意味でしょう。

What is the message beyond this presentation? What are the greater issues or questions this piece deals with?

The presentation is not directly referenced in the question. There are many possible answers found outside of the presentation, but it’s a starting point.

  • How do people…?
  • Why do people…?
  • What is the truth about…?



  • 人々はどうやって...?
  • どうして人々は...?
  • ...の真実は何でしょう?

How effective is the presentation in whole or in part? Why did the speaker/author make these choices and how well do they work?

Many possible answers can be found outside of the presentation but it’s a reference.

  • Is it realistic when …?
  • How does the speaker use … to show …?
  • Would this be better if …?
  • Is the speaker biased towards/against…?



  • この箇所は現実味がありますか。
  • 話者がこの...をどのように表現しましたか。
  • もし...であればもっとよかったですか。
  • 話者は...の考え方に偏っていますか。

Expressions and terms🦧覚えておきたい単語・表現

Pick some terms that you are unfamiliar with from sentences you high-lightened and memorize them because you need them to discuss this chapter!!


termexample sentence
consciousnessAs best we know, microorganisms have no consciousness, no aims in life, and no ability to plan ahead.
engineerE. coli have been genetically engineered to produce biofuel.
singularityWe may be fast approaching a new singularity.
be around the cornerWhat seems to be just around the corner may never materialize due to unforeseen barriers.

It took about a half year to finish reading this book. It’s taken more months to make these articles. But I am so delighted to get to read this book since I’ve learned a lot that connects to what I am interested in in our society. This book has enabled me to connect a lot of pieces I’ve learned separately in life into one picture. If you finished it, please share your thoughts with me!! Now I cannot help recommending this book to my friends.