Human Evolution
June 6, 2000 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Human Evolution Will the next significant steps be biological, technical or both?
posted by PaperCut (12 comments total)
I read technology to enhance the human species rather than genetic engineering. I wonder if we couldn't obtain a higher form by just meditating. But personally I have no problem adding an additional processor to my brain.
posted by PaperCut at 8:45 PM on June 6, 2000

I do need an additional computing unit. I was trying to reference Extropian magazine in my first sentence. Sign me up for the first grammatical, hypertext frontal lobal unit.
posted by PaperCut at 8:49 PM on June 6, 2000

Keep up on current events, there's no such thing.
posted by alana at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2000

I think, as neat as all this sounds, until we improve the quality of our thinking, improving the physical machinery is just an amusing diversion. I was just ranting about how we need to evolve on my own blog, but what I meant was that we need to strive. Will and effort and an exploration of that massive, snarled internal primate mindscape are just as important as making faster, smarter, stronger people. As we have already admirably proved, a smarter ape just acts like an ape who can do more damage.
posted by Ezrael at 9:24 PM on June 6, 2000

One of the points in the links was that some individuals will choose to enhance themselves emotionally and intellectually through both genetic manipulation and the merging of man-made technology (non-organic) into the body. All of us are going to have to live with those who chose to enhance their bodies by going around static genetic mutation. Race prejudice may seem very minor in the future compared to a Mac enhanced or Windows enhanced individual.
posted by PaperCut at 9:35 PM on June 6, 2000

I'm not concerned about the evolution of the human species, as such. Becoming better people and all that. The only thing that's going to do that is time and memory. I think we've finally entered the age where not much is ever going to be forgotten, ever again. We can say with some certainty what the lives of the generation before us were like, on a day-to-day basis. This has never happened before, except in times of total stagnation. Point being, these picture-perfect, eternal memories will eventually start to add up, and your everyday person is going to have a much better graspe of history. We'll start to repeat mistakes with less frequency. If we dont destroy ourselves first, we're already on the path, and there's not much we can do to speed up, or slow down.

That's what keeps me sane, at least.

Anyway, I say bring on the amusing diversions. I for one would love to never take notes in class ever again. To not have to learn another language just to be able to understand my neighbors on this rock. To not get eye strain researching a paper. Chip me, baby.

posted by Freakho at 9:44 PM on June 6, 2000

I've always believed evolutionarily speaking humanity has pretty much hit the wall. Civilized society, while being a very good thing, just does not promote evolution. Just watch the news or daytime TV and you'll see all the evidence you need. My god... I know it sounds evil but most of the people I see on TV should be sterilized and they're the ones breeding the most! The only way to continue is through technological augmentations. Nanotechnology and genetic engineering.

I hope I live to the day when I slam my money down and have a new supercomputer just injected into my arm.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 8:42 AM on June 7, 2000

>I've always believed evolutionarily speaking humanity
>has pretty much hit the wall. Civilized society, while
>being a very good thing, just does not promote
>evolution. Just watch the news or daytime TV and
>you'll see all the evidence you need.

Interesting comment, but I'm not exactly sure what you mean. We have to be careful about how we use the word "evolution" because it means one thing to scientists and something quite different to many lay-people.

It sounds lake you are saying that the human race is not progressing--not getting better and better, and I would certainly agree with you there.

But evolution (in the scientific/Darwinian) sense has nothing to do with progression towards something better. It just has to do with CHANGE.

For instance, the next stage of human evolutions could involve humans getting stupider, not smarter. While we might not consider this progress, it WOULD be evolution. If something about our environment changed and gave stupid people an advantage over smart people, this could happen (assuming the advantage meant that the stupid people managed to produce more offspring than the smart people and thus passed on more genes to the next generation).

Now, if you meant evolution in the scientific sense, your statement becomes really interesting and provocative. What would make civilization stop evolution? Civilization is all ABOUT change. For instance, the development of the Internet has greatly changed our environment.

Of course, it's possible that civilization is changing so fast that our species won't be able to evolve fast enough--evolutionary change takes a long time.

When our species evolved to it’s current stage, we were all hunter-gatherers who lived in small family groups. Now many of us live in crowded cities and don’t produce our own food. Our environment has DRASTICALLY changed! Maybe it has changed too much and our species soon won’t be able to cope.

But assuming the human race survives for a while, what will our planet be like 40,000 year from now? Surely it will be very different from what it's like today. And people will have to adapt to live in that environment. Those who are best adapted will live the longest, bear the most children, and pass on the most genes.
posted by grumblebee at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2000

Interesting point there. I never considered an increase in the populations stupidity to be evolution. Perhaps since it is a change but a backwards change it could be considered de-evolution.

What I meant about civilized society hindering evolution was meant in the coldest scientific sense. The way it used to be was if you were lazy, stupid or disabled you were guaranteed a short life. Someone who was smarter and healthier would just kill you. Nature is mean like that. Civilized society gave us rules that usually prevent such things. True without civilized society we would be nowhere near the level of technological advancement that we enjoy today, but current technology, while providing the potential for growth, doesn't guarantee it. We can relay information across millions of miles in an instant and most people are using it to download porn. Nature doesn't tolerate the lazy, the stupid and the disabled.

Please don't get the wrong idea. I'm no Unabomber nature freak nor am I some master race theorist. I can't stand camping and if no society existed I'd have been killed and eaten long ago. I just believe civilized society has halted natural evolution but now the time is soon coming when we, through technological advancement will take over that job.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 3:16 PM on June 7, 2000

this is so cool/scary that it probably should have it's own thread, but it also goes nicely here. Thanks Robotwisdom!
posted by grumblebee at 3:54 PM on June 7, 2000

As soon as it is possible, I will volunteer to do this to myself.
posted by ab'd al'Hazred at 10:06 PM on June 7, 2000

I don't know, ab'd al'Hazred, nobody every accused me of being Brad Pitt, but I still prefer my own body to "two wheels and a body made up of a couple of circular circuit boards that looks more like a wired-up Oreo biscuit than a cyborg."
posted by grumblebee at 11:28 AM on June 8, 2000

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