What's less likely to change is that this sort of research into human capacities will have us delving into terrain that can be upsetting to accepted social varities. The book's website offers a list of such touchy questions:
And we worry about "tracking" in education -- the practice of separating students into different levels largely based on performance on standardized tests! Think what we might do to people if our use of genetic information is ill-considered or simply bigoted. Yet we're going to find out.
Can better understanding of the implications of our individual, inherited genes -- who is naturally super fit (6 in 1900 according to one study) and who is a naturally high responder to athletic training (perhaps not the same individuals) -- end up reducing participation to only those few who happen to have been born with a particular positive genetic profile? Historically we've identified who will get the best results in which sports with a lot of trial, error and accident. But in the context of the "winner-take-all" market in sports (a concept Epstein credits to Robert H. Frank) will there be any room for the merely enthusiastic mediocre athlete?
Sure, that's how a market is supposed to work: sports uncover winners and we delight in the performances of these genetic outliers.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics only about 20 percent of us in the United States get the quantity of exercise that is currently considered healthy. (I'm not convinced that we have a scientifically based definition of what healthy activity would require for particular individuals, but I'm sure some kind of activity is healthy.) We've evolved a civilization in which exertion is optional. We aren't about to revert to painful drudgery if we can help it.
To survive in the social context we've created, we need to find ways to identify what activities might provide satisfaction to non-elite individuals. The potential to do this is implicit in the research Epstein describes; let's hope we choose to advance in that direction at the same time we devote resources to the few who can stretch the limits of human performance. What we do with the insights of performance genetics will be about social choices we make; that's a feature of being human in the age of the Anthropocene.