Christopher E. Mason

Christopher E. Mason is a geneticist and computational biologist who has been a Principal Investigator and Co-investigator of 11 NASA missions and projects. Mason is Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction. He also holds affiliate appointments at the New York Genome Center, Yale Law School, and the Consortium for Space Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mason is the author of The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds.

  • The Age of Prediction

    Algorithms, AI, and the Shifting Shadows of Risk

    Igor Tulchinsky and Christopher E. Mason

    The power of the ever-increasing tools and algorithms for prediction and their paradoxical effects on risk.

    The Age of Prediction is about two powerful, and symbiotic, trends: the rapid development and use of artificial intelligence and big data to enhance prediction, as well as the often paradoxical effects of these better predictions on our understanding of risk and the ways we live. Beginning with dramatic advances in quantitative investing and precision medicine, this book explores how predictive technology is quietly reshaping our world in fundamental ways, from crime fighting and warfare to monitoring individual health and elections.

    As prediction grows more robust, it also alters the nature of the accompanying risk, setting up unintended and unexpected consequences. The Age of Prediction details how predictive certainties can bring about complacency or even an increase in risks—genomic analysis might lead to unhealthier lifestyles or a GPS might encourage less attentive driving. With greater predictability also comes a degree of mystery, and the authors ask how narrower risks might affect markets, insurance, or risk tolerance generally. Can we ever reduce risk to zero? Should we even try? This book lays an intriguing groundwork for answering these fundamental questions and maps out the latest tools and technologies that power these projections into the future, sometimes using novel, cross-disciplinary tools to map out cancer growth, people's medical risks, and stock dynamics.

    • Hardcover $27.95
  • The Next 500 Years

    The Next 500 Years

    Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds

    Christopher E. Mason

    An argument that we have a moral duty to explore other planets and solar systems—because human life on Earth has an expiration date.

    Inevitably, life on Earth will come to an end, whether by climate disaster, cataclysmic war, or the death of the sun in a few billion years. To avoid extinction, we will have to find a new home planet, perhaps even a new solar system, to inhabit. In this provocative and fascinating book, Christopher Mason argues that we have a moral duty to do just that. As the only species aware that life on Earth has an expiration date, we have a responsibility to act as the shepherd of life-forms—not only for our species but for all species on which we depend and for those still to come (by accidental or designed evolution). Mason argues that the same capacity for ingenuity that has enabled us to build rockets and land on other planets can be applied to redesigning biology so that we can sustainably inhabit those planets. And he lays out a 500-year plan for undertaking the massively ambitious project of reengineering human genetics for life on other worlds.

    As they are today, our frail human bodies could never survive travel to another habitable planet. Mason describes the toll that long-term space travel took on astronaut Scott Kelly, who returned from a year on the International Space Station with changes to his blood, bones, and genes. Mason proposes a ten-phase, 500-year program that would engineer the genome so that humans can tolerate the extreme environments of outer space—with the ultimate goal of achieving human settlement of new solar systems. He lays out a roadmap of which solar systems to visit first, and merges biotechnology, philosophy, and genetics to offer an unparalleled vision of the universe to come.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $19.95