The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution (Paperback)

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"Entertaining and prescient…Hockfield demonstrates how nature’s molecular riches may be leveraged to provide potential solutions to some of humanity’s existential challenges." —Adrian Woolfson, Science


A century ago, discoveries in physics came together with engineering to produce an array of astonishing new technologies that radically reshaped the world: radios, televisions, aircraft, computers, and a host of still-evolving digital tools. Today, a new technological convergence—of biology and engineering—promises to create the tools necessary to tackle the threats we now face, including climate change, drought, famine, and disease


World-renowned neuroscientist and academic leader Susan Hockfield describes the most exciting new developments and the scientists and engineers who helped to create them. Virus-built batteries. Cancer-detecting nanoparticles. Computer-engineered crops. Together, they highlight the promise of the technology revolution of the twenty-first century to overcome some of the greatest humanitarian, medical, and environmental challenges of our time.



About the Author


Susan Hockfield, Ph.D., president emerita and professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was the first woman and first life scientist to lead MIT. She is a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Praise For…


An essential book for our fast-moving times. Hockfield covers an immense range of the emerging technologies that will reshape our lives. At the same time, she offers a crucial synthesis, much needed in an age of fragmentation. The result is a powerful reading experience, combining depth and clarity, and offering a generous supplement of hope.
— Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York

Susan Hockfield’s lively and authoritative book brings to life the bio-revolution that is coming and that will dwarf the computer revolution in causing disruption—or better and worse.
— Ashton B. Carter, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, and MIT Innovation Fellow

A highly readable and deeply informative look over the scientific horizon into a future where biology and engineering converge to offer extraordinary means to improve our world.
— Drew Gilpin Faust, president emerita and Lincoln Professor of History, Harvard University

Beautifully captures the science and the stories underpinning the convergence of biology and engineering as a transformative twenty-first-century enterprise. One of those stories—biologically organized batteries—addresses the clean-energy revolution needed for mitigating climate change, capturing both of Hockfield’s signature initiatives as MIT president.
— Ernest J. Moniz, former U.S. Secretary of Energy

Timely, provocative insights into ways the genomic and bioengineering revolution is likely to transform our world in the next half century as profoundly as computer chips powering the information revolution transformed the past fifty years.
— Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, and author of Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

Life sciences are at the doorstep of meeting the major challenges of our time: energy, food, water, and disease. Hockfield views this future through the eyes of scientists at the interface of engineering and biology in an exciting and enjoyable book.
— Phillip A. Sharp, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393358261
ISBN-10: 0393358267
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 5th, 2020
Pages: 256
Language: English