What’s Next in Human Evolution?

A friend recently asked me, “What’s the next step in human evolution?” As much as I have read on the topic of evolutionary biology and psychology, I had never really considered this. I think there are few reasons for this.

These reasons are outlined below:

1. Evolution does not imply progress.
There is so much misunderstanding about what evolution means. The first thing to remember is that evolution does not lead to better organisms. The engine behind evolution, or change, is natural selection. Dictionary.com defines natural selection as, “The process in nature by which, according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.” That brings us to rule 2.

2. Evolution is simply an organism’s adaptation to a local environment.
Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould had great way of describing rule 2:

    “You can be the best fish in the pond but, if the pond dries up, you’re dead. You can rule the earth for over one hundred million years and be perfectly adapted to your environment (as in the case of the dinosaurs) but if a large enough meteorite hits the earth, you’re extinct.”

Biologists continue to be amazed by the dramatic diversity of species that have been generated over millions (and sometimes billions) of years. Many species so well adapted to their local environments that their existence is a necessity for the entire local ecosystem (see Interesting Thing of the Day). This is why scientists study ecological niches to discover major climate changes – because these ecosystems are so sensitive to minor fluctuations in global climate.

3. Evolution often takes major, dramatic leaps in a short period of time.
The quote above from Gould about dinosaurs points out how quickly a major jump, or what he called, “punctuated equilibria,” can occur. These major changes can happen on a very localized level or it can impact an entire planet – as in the example of dinosaurs. In fact, we have every reason to believe that humans would never have come into being without the mass extinctions that occurred. Contrary to popular belief, humans did not co-exist with dinosaurs. The very first mammals emerged around this same time and were small and fast enough to stay out of the jaws of hungry dinosaurs. After the mass extinction, mammals owned the planet. However, with no meteorite (or some scientists speculate comet) dinosaurs would have continued trucking along. They had ruled the Earth for 100 millions years and there is no reason to believe that would have been challenged.

4. The force behind evolution is genetic mutation.
Though there is currently debate about the role of proteins in the transmission of heredity (see The next revolution in science?) the central dogma in molecular biology is that random genetic mutation is the only way an organism can change. If a mutation helps an organism adapt to their local condition (rule 2) then it is said to have a high “fitness factor”. Translation: if this particular organism has a slight advantage over other organisms because of this mutation, they will be more successful at mating, and having stronger offspring (with a higher fitness factor). The genetic mutation could also be horrific – as many genetic diseases are – and this can cause an organism to die young or have a low fitness factor. Eventually, these mutations are weeded out in the population.

Also based on rule 2, a genetic mutation with a high fitness factor in one local environment could have a low factor in a new environment. The classic case is sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell is a genetic disease, much more common in people from Sub-Saharan Africa, which alters the shape of red blood cells. This makes it very difficult for their blood cells to bind to oxygen. However, this same mutation also makes it very difficult to contract malaria. So, when people from these areas of Africa began moving into other climates where malaria was not a problem, their mutation was not longer an asset, it was a liability.

Conclusion & Summary
To summarize, evolution has no purpose or direction. It is simply random mutations occurring in an organism’s DNA that make it either more or less adapted to the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Humans are probably the lest well adapted creatures to the planet. Instead we have managed to use tools to shape the environment to us. Natural selection is now being executed by humans rather than nature on a scale never before seen. This appears to be unique among life on Earth. With the advances of science and medicine even some of the worst genetic disorders (or mutations) are going to be treatable and this will only get better with time. So, rather than continuing to evolve at a rapid clip, I believe humans are slowing down because of technology. I believe we have plenty of ability to continue transforming the planet and solar system to our needs for thousands of years to come without much change in our morphology or DNA. Gould’s anecdote about the dinosaurs is a grim reminder of a potentially fatal future however. Punctuated equilibria, whether in the form of a comet or several nuclear bombs, is real and it has shown up more than once in our planet’s history. I hope for a more optimist future where humans reach out for the stars and colonize other worlds – perhaps in new galaxies millions of years from now. As for the future of humanity, once our local environment changes significantly and we master the genetic code, the possibilities are limitless.

Discussion — 27 Responses

  • surreal2u March 31, 2006 on 5:34 pm

    So, actually, let’s be honest. Last night I asked Tammy to ask you what you thought. All this in a day is impressive. I don’t really see you making a definitive statement as to what you believe. When I asked you what you thought I was looking for specific speculation not four canned frameworks of what evolution is or implies and then a conclusion/summary that could encompass anything. Did you really answer the question of what you think the next stage of evolution is? Or were you just being a good friend a popping up a quick item or two as you would a paper the day before it was due? What do you think the next stage is? I don’t need a defintion of evolution from webster and multiple renound authors and then a sentence or two from Matt. (I believe humans are slowing down because of technology. I believe we have plenty of ability to continue transforming the planet and solar system to our needs for thousands of years to come without much change in our morphology or DNA.) :) I know you are a great writer. Be bold and speculate wildly.

    Reply
  • surreal2u March 31, 2006 on 7:14 pm

    I realize this is not the forum for this. I apologize if you feel attacked. I see, in retrospect, my error in that this is a forum and not just you and I chatting at 2:00a.m. living in Sterling Highland. Here is the direction I was impying when I asked. We weren’t always homo erectus or homo sapien. Evolution has involved physical change. You said you believe that humans are slowing down because of techology. What physical repurcussions exist as a result of this? This is the direction I was looking for with my question. Speculate bro. I am curious to know what your ideas are.

    Reply
  • The Fearsome Randall April 1, 2006 on 5:56 pm

    I basically agree with Matt’s post, and I think that he does a good job of carving up the significant variables that are necessary in order to approach your question. And I have to admit that I have found myself making a strikingly similar argument. So in a way this proves to a degree Chris, that Matt and I share a formulaic (“canned ” is too strong) approach to evolution. Matt and I are both children of neo-darwinianism.

    [Chris]

    > I was looking for specific speculation

    Well, we will only be able to speculate *within* the given framework and the shared assumptions of neo-darwinism. Sometimes it is necessary to clarify the founding principles of Evolution, because there are a lot of popular misconceptions concening the concept. It is quite possible that you are asking an unanswerable question.

    >“What’s the next step in human evolution?”

    Matt’s first “canned” framework is hinting that maybe your question isn’t answerable. Science is not religion or philosophy. It’s about asking answerable questions.

    A popular misconception about Evolution is that we are moving towards being Angels, or we are somehow moving in the direction of perfecting ourselves. Also from an engineering point of view, we can’t really think of evolution as moving in the direction of correcting some flaw that we might have.

    Matt’s second “canned” framework outlines the basic operarative principle in Evolution: an organism’s adaptation to a local environment. Something that I would add is that the name of this game is REPRODUCTION. IF YOU REPRODUCE YOU WIN. (We are only measuring the tip of the horse’s nose as he crosses the finish line).

    Matt provides this argument here:

    >Translation: if this particular organism has a slight
    > advantage over other organisms because of this
    >mutation, they will be more successful at mating, and
    >having stronger offspring (with a higher fitness factor).

    Matt’s third “canned” framework is related to a combination of this “If you reproduce, you win” concept, and the “local adaptation of environment” concept. When a stress is introduced into a local environment, it acts as a “bottleneck”. This bottleneck represents the selective pressures of the local environment on a particular species. How do you get through the bottleneck? Reproduce.

    Matt’s fourth “canned” framework explains that Evolution assumes that heredity is explicable in terms of genes and chromosomes; and second, that the ultimate source of heritable variability is the random mutation of the genetic material.

    Genes are recombined by sexual reproduction, the ‘crossing over’ of chromosomes, and by changes in chromosomal structure. These process produce new permutations of genes which may bring about new effects.

    Natural Selection tends to eliminate mutant genes with harmful effects. The agents of selection include predators; parasites and infectuos diseases; competition for space, food, etc.; climatic and micro-climatic conditions; and sexual reproduction.

    Matt then provides the classic example of an inferior member of the specices making it through a particular environmental bottleneck : individuals strickend
    with the genetic disorder of Sickle Cell Anemia, placed within the given environmental bottle neck of Malaria.

    The point is that the most superior exemplar of the species may not be “fit” to survive a given contextual “bottle neck,” and so the most superior exemplar of the species doesn’t reproduce.

    While at the same time an inferior individual of the same species (possibily with an obvious deficiency, a monster, holistically speaking) may contingently have the required equiptment to make it through the specific environmental bottleneck and so therefore it is the one that carries on to reproduce not the finest exemplar.

    The above are basically the mechinisms opperating in Evolution (i.e.natural selection and punctuated equilibrium).

    Only now are we in a position to make the logical inferences about “the next step in human Evolution”

    [Matt]

    >With the advances of science and medicine even some
    > of the worst genetic disorders (or mutations) are going
    > to be treatable and this will only get better with time.

    Here is a really good point. Mutant people are capable of living longer through medical engineering. Consequently, more mutant people are reproducing.

    Natural Selection is also operative in what may be described as a normative environmental context by eliminating organisms with mutant genes that decrease the probability of survival of sexual reproduction. Examples include the selective pressures on “monstrously” malformed organisms.

    Of course medical technology doesn’t guarantee that these mutants will actually hop in bed and reproduce. But it suggests that the “normative” selective pressures are reduced.

    [Matt]

    >So, rather than continuing to evolve at a rapid clip, I
    > believe humans are slowing down because of
    > technology. I believe we have plenty of ability to continue
    > transforming the planet and solar system to our needs
    >for thousands of years to come without much change in
    > our morphology or DNA.

    So here Matt answers your specific question about physical morpology Chris. The point about medical technology suggest that the “normative” selective pressures are decreased (mutants are increasingly reaching the age necessary to reproduce). On the other side, I would even go so far to say that there is no “evolution” going on right now. Because there is no real bottle neck. But there is some evidence that evolutionary principles have been operating quite recently. (e.g. the bubonic plague).

    So for me one side of answering your question requires trying to anticipate the next environmental bottleneck. We can speculate here a little (e.g. nuclear disaster, astroid, disease). For me disease is the most likely bottleneck. The second part is to anticipate what characteristics are necessary to get though this bottleneck (we could also store genetic samples underground)

    Humans could definitley play an active roll in providing the bottleneck. Nuclear disaster is just one. I personally think that genetic engineering is as dangerous as it is possibly helpful ( and not because of the old don’t mess with God argument). For example, with cloning.

    The purpose of sexual reproduction is for diversification. The problem with self-reproduction is that it allows other organisms a nice stable environment to adapt. Consequently, the clone is a second look at the same environment. It is predictable that each clone would be more and more susceptible to disease.

    [Chris]

    >You said you believe that humans are slowing down
    > because of techology. What physical repurcussions
    >exist as a result of this?

    Stability! Diversification is generally a very good strategy for survival. The more genetic combinations that survive to reproduce, results in lateral movement. Lateral movement means survival. When we start reducing this diversity in terms of a Master race or some form of eugenics movement or something like that…well then we’re dead.

    So in the end all I can speculate about Evolution is that we should be quite stable. Humans are already equipt with the end all survival package , spirit (i.e. self-consciousness)

    [Matt]

    >Humans are probably the lest well adapted creatures to
    > the planet.

    I think that this would my big disagreement with Matt. He means above that Humans are the least adapted physically. But the reason why we are ‘the’ survival machine, is that (behaviorally speaking) we are not bound to any genetic predisposition, we have the capacity to be free from our nature dispositions. That is we don’t have a genetic pre-disposition to build a particular tool or nest. We can move with the environment in real time.

    So for me humans have already left Evolution behind. The next step is to simply to show all humans the capacity that they already have, self-consciousness. The rest is history, not evolution.

    The Fearsome

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 1, 2006 on 10:03 pm

    First, Dino, thank you for joinging the conversation. I am glad you decided to and thank you for just reinforcing my point. You have two well read individuals that like to use the acquired experiences and ideas of other legends, living or dead, to provide some framework for their own perspective to have not really stated any of their own ideas. Then you have one person who, always seeking knowledge, has taken comfort in his own ideas being arrived upon through his own experiences and reading some but not with respect to the author but the idea itself (the perpetual dreamer). Notice my title doesn’t cite some other person to define my own idea. Also, to speculate is not to provide an answer Randy. Speculation, takes all that you know to boldy pose your own idea of what you think possilbe. Imagination or educated guess matters not when pertaining to speculation as it is unknown. Certainly an educated guess provides some clear advantage into posing an arguement but all you have argued about has become somewhat ambiguos once deconstructed. It is as complex a subject as would be defining the dimensions of the universe, considering we haven’t even completed mapping the human genome. I acknowledge that readily. Is it not possible to stay to point without pointing out the variables AND guess. Your philosophical background as “formulaic” as it may be is as a chess game. You choose your move based on what the other says without ever really making a statement you can call your own. First, to address you post as I read it Randy, let me also frame it up to address your words with respect to my own ideas.

    It is quite possible that you are asking an unanswerable question.

    Does this proclude the ability to speculate realizing that it is possible there is no answer to the question? What is truly brave is posing your own idea with the odds for being incorrect astronnomical, rather than claiming defeat at the scope of the subject matter. Hiding behind what has been said/done and not looking forward to what is yet to be discovered is the real crime. Where are the dreamers I once knew?

    Science is not religion or philosophy. It’s about asking answerable questions.

    Really? What determines is an answerable question Randy? Quite the defeatest mentality and also a bit drab considering that every major determination in science, although following Scientific Method, are theorized on first. In science we take what we know through observation and mathematics (including variables) to arrive at a conclusion. So, who is to decide as to what is answerable? Science calls it theory.

    Something that I would add is that the name of this game is REPRODUCTION. IF YOU REPRODUCE YOU WIN.

    I would be inclined to agree with you about this and in terms of Matt speculations to say, well if we aren’t here due to catyclismic circumstances (meteor) we wouldn’t be here but cloning would negate the arguement of natural selection, REPRODUCTION being the cause. We have plenty of sperm banks to combine with the eggs to fertilize and simply use women as a gestation chamber to keep the species alive for mllions of years (cloning, although possibly unethical, certainly and option). How so very sexy that sounds. I know. :) Considering the remainder of your arguement centers around reproduction. I’ll be as bold to say you say, ‘hey we have to produce to stay alive’. Correct! But this also does not answer my question Randall. Considering all variables of natural disaster, nuclear disaster, ozone depletion, natural selection, say we were to survive. Where do you think we are going physically? Follow the line of evolution and what has happened to us physically. “Canned” or “formulaic”, regardless of how you choose to term it, you both have still refused to speculate without deconstructing to the point of making it impossible to just GUESS. No one knows. You don’t know. I don’t know. The conversation goes no where without trying. Here is a shot in the dark.

    Considering the universe is infinite and the possibility for other life inhabiting planets to exist as well, isn’t it also possible that their evolution began millions of years prior to ours based on those planets forming an atmosphere capable sustaining life a billion years before our planet was formed? Set variables aside for a moment and say that they are not extinct. So, to say we have, in our present state, seen our developement over about that last 30,000 years. I am asking to step out of the next 100 years and to move beyond the confines of what you know. If we were to survive where would we be in say a million years? Unless you think that we will never survive. As we continue to incorporate technology into our lives will our muscles atrophy and our body only serve as support to our brain? SPECULATION. Drop the what you know to show how much we don’t know act, and take a shot in the dark.

    You said you believe that humans are slowing down
    > because of techology. What physical repurcussions
    >exist as a result of this?

    I was citing what Matt said in the first sentence verbatim Randy. I was posing a more specific question in reference to this. Those were not all my words. I don’t believe humans are slowing down because of technology. Technology has provided greater strides in science by providing tools to have hard facts. Without technology much of what you assume from having read would not exist. As we continue we will find more answers based on our advances in technology. Spirit certainly is a factor but not a specific component of my question either in the name of science. If I follow your same reasoning earlier to say Science is not religion or philosophy then you have contradicted yourself.

    So again, I pose the question to both of you, my valued and educated friends. Take an educated guess…golly geez.

    Now we are having fun! You there Matt?

    Reply
  • The Fearsome Randall April 2, 2006 on 9:06 am

    > Then you have one person who, always seeking
    > knowledge, has taken comfort in his own ideas
    > being arrived upon through his own experiences and
    > reading some but not with respect to the author but the
    > idea itself (the perpetual dreamer). Notice my title doesn’t
    > cite some other person to define my own idea.

    Chris do you remember that line: “I am standing on the shoulders of Giants”. Even if you are absolutely brilliant, with your method you will spend most of your time re-inventing the wheel. If you want to contribute to Culture, Science, or Art, you have to know what came before in order to advance.

    >Also, to speculate is not to provide an answer Randy. >Speculation, takes all that you know to boldy pose your >own idea of what you think possilbe. Imagination or >educated guess matters not when pertaining to >speculation as it is unknown.

    Are you merely talking about open possiblility? Well then you’re really just tripping-out Chris, randomly making ungrounded statements about future possibility. Good science is finding *real* possibilities, and that means outlining the contextual limitations of the problematic. A lot of smart people have been thinking about ‘evolution’ for 140 years. Why re-do the work that they have already done?

    >Your philosophical background as “formulaic” as it may >be is as a chess game. You choose your move based on >what the other says without ever really making a
    >statement you can call your own.

    I disagree with the sentiment of this statement. In Chess, it’s true that you have to play by the rules of the game, and that means first that you have to learn the rules, (and that includes the informal rules that are laid down by the great masters). But there is a lot of room for creative play. I can remember the first time that we played Chess you tried “the three move checkmate” to start the game. You lost the game with that undisciplined decision, not with your actual ability. I may choose to listen to the consultation of the masters that came before me, but I have always made my own decisions. One of the informal rules that the masters teach is: “respect your opponent”.

    >> It is quite possible that you are asking an unanswerable >>question.

    >Does this preclude the ability to speculate realizing that it >is possible there is no answer to the question?

    No. It just means that you’re tripping out.

    >What is truly brave is posing your own idea with the
    > odds for being incorrect astronnomical, rather than >claiming defeat at the scope of the subject matter. Hiding
    > behind what has been said/done and not looking >forward to what is yet to be discovered is the real crime.
    > Where are the dreamers I once knew?

    With Evolution, I have found that within the limits of its framework, the operative functions are sufficiently explained. Consequently, it is too mechanistic for my taste to maintain a perserving study and to actually want to contribute to the advance of the science. I feel that Evolution is now the realm for good technitions. I am not a technition.

    So with evolutionary theory it is satisfying enough for me to formulate those basic operative functions in such a way in which they are accessible to ordinary people and in such a way where we can focus on what is truely speculative.

    For me the interesting part (i.e the realm of speculation) concerning Evolutionary theory is at the limits of the theory. Darwinian Evolution breaks down at the point where there is the emergence of life from some sort of non-living chemical aggregates (this is the “Primaeval broth” argument). And what is needed here is an act of creation. Something that the mechanistic model can only answer with a glorious accident type response.

    The other side of the limit of evolutionary theory is human “self-consciousness”. I think that the two are related. In other words, I think that human self-consciousness and the creative act that comes prior to evolution are one and the same, spirit.

    >What determines is an answerable question Randy? >Quite the defeatest mentality and also a bit drab >considering that every major determination in science, >although following Scientific Method, are theorized on >first. In science we take what we know through >observation and mathematics (including variables) to
    >arrive at a conclusion. So, who is to decide as to what is
    > answerable? Science calls it theory.

    Well can you prove that there is a God with the scientific method? How about the healing power of prayer? There are significant topics of inquiry that are simply outside the scope of the scientific method.

    Can we prove the laws of the universe? We can observe that two massive bodies move in a direction towards each other every time we measure or observe them, or that particle A moves in this direction, and particle B moves in this other direction everytime we observe them, but we can’t observe the law itself.

    Furthermore, just because particles A and B have these particular qualities as I observe them in this space and time, doesn’t mean that particles A and B will have those same qualities in some other distant time and space that I can’t observe.

    How much value does mathematics have in a pure indeterminacy? Math presupposes a determinate qualitative unit in which it manipulates. The utility of Mathematics hinges on the abstraction from this quality that necessarily constitutes the unit. In this way the mathematician can manipulate the given unit without the burden of its quality. But what are the necessary conditions of a one? Quality!

    Yet if you mention a qualitative variable to an engineer or mathematician he will tell you that you are bullshitting.

    Technitions only operate within a given framework.

    >Where do you think we are going physically? Follow the >line of evolution and what has happened to us >physically. “Canned” or “formulaic”, regardless of how >you choose to term it, you both have still refused to >speculate

    Well I answered this before. I think that we will remain the same. Everything is moving towards the diversification of the population and I think that this is good for stablization.

    I can tell you that the general trend physically in the last 5 million years has been a movment towards pedomorphism (i.e. Retention of juvenile characteristics in the adult). Have you ever noticed that a baby monkey looks a lot more like a human than an adult monkey? I think that this trend will continue (e.g. balding, hairlessness).

    Also simple things like the fact that we don’t really use our teeth (i.e. we eat mush) or our that we don’t use our muscles as much as we had to in the past. Consequently we will probably lose bone mass, and muscle mass. Although, think how nutrition and excercize has changed our morphology.

    >Considering the universe is infinite and the possibility for >other life inhabiting planets to exist as well, isn’t it also >possible that their evolution began millions of years prior >to ours based on those >planets forming an atmosphere >capable sustaining life a billion years before our planet >was formed?

    Well its not clear what you mean by infinity here, because clearly the scientific consensus is that the universe does have a definite age, and so it does have a limit.

    I think that you could use the term infinity in relation to the universe legitimately if you considered a contracting or oscillating universe. But you complicate this by mentioning planets that are within the scope of the finite universe that we observe today and have measured with light.

    And as far as life, sure it is an open possiblity. But the idea of space travel and meeting these creatures that are thousands of light years away, I am rather consverative on this issue and think that idea greatly underappreciates the vastness of space.

    >Set variables aside for a moment and say that they are >not extinct. So, to say we have, in our present state, >seen our developement over about that last 30,000 >years. I am asking to step out of the next 100 years and >to move beyond the confines of what you know. If we >were to survive where would we be in say a million >years?

    Boh! Well I can only randomly speculate you are right. But it depends if we are talking about 1 million years of standing on the collective shoulders of Giants, or if people think like you do Chris and start over again, and again.

    If we are standing on shoulders of Giants then the colonazation of the solar system is quite probable I think. And that would mean isolated populations taking new pathways.

    >Without technology much of what you assume from >having read would not exist. As we continue we will find >more answers based on our advances in technology.

    I am not in anyway against technology. It’s just that technology is merely a tool. It is inherently contentless.

    The next revolution for us, is the content revolution. We have lots of technology, and modes of access, but the content is crap. We are the x-generation for a reason. We have no content.

    >Spirit certainly is a factor but not a specific component of >my question either in the name of science. If I follow your >same reasoning earlier to say Science is not religion or >philosophy then you have contradicted yourself.

    Evolution is about the transmission of genes and as I tried to explain above it has a limited scope, my argument about Self-consciousness (i.e. spirit) was that we have evolved this capacity (self-consciousness) that allows us to adapt in real time.

    Thus we no longer have to rely exclusively on the biological mechanisms of evolution for adaptation.

    Self-consciousness has freed us from the scope of evolution

    >So again, I pose the question to both of you, my valued >and educated friends. Take an educated guess…golly >geez.

    Okay Chris if you want my REAL opinion, well I think that we will look a lot like the movies that we have seen and the cartoon representations of the really big brainy guy with slanted eyes and the small mouth with little little David Hasslehoff legs.

    Reply
    • Tony The Fearsome Randall February 18, 2011 on 2:41 pm

      I believe space travel and less-than-Earth gravity environments will be the next spark in our physical evolution. Probably won’t be for the best, either. We’ll end up with those Hasslehoff legs. =

      Reply
  • Matthew April 5, 2006 on 9:51 pm

    Surreal2u, by the way, the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Also, there is a great paper on the future of psychological evolution, here. There is also a good audio program called “Recent Evolution,” here.

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 6, 2006 on 3:07 pm

    I am sorry I stated incorrectly. The Human Genome has been mapped. However, “though the HGP is finished, analyses of the data will continue for many years.” I wonder if they did this with a sun compass and sticks. I guess techology really is slowing our progress… :)

    Reply
  • Matthew April 9, 2006 on 3:42 pm

    Surreal2u, after reading your last comment I think I see your misunderstanding now. It took me a little while. You’re not talking about evolution by natural selection. You’re asking about technical innovation. I think our ability to innovation is virtually limitless which is why we no longer need to continue adapting – at least here on Earth. Technology is a tool and tool use is not a heritable trait like blue eyes – it is called a “meme.” I can provide some good beginner books (with lots of illustrations) if you would like to continue learning about these topics.

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 11, 2006 on 7:23 pm

    Clapper, although technology provides a useful tool, I was never referring to technical innovation. The pictures I just saw in the book had big letters under them and helped immensely. I was referring more about how technology was coming to a point where information was more accessible and our processing and the stimulus was opening new doors into our insight, exposure, and understanding how we got to where we are throughout our evolution. Technology will play the ultimately role in our evolution by creating the ability to survive as we destroy our environment whether we have blue, green or even brown eyes. I don’t know where you pulled heritable traits from to associate it with what I was talking about. I was making a smart ass comment about your statement that humans evolution ‘was slowing down because of technology’ or did you forget making that statement.

    Damn there is the sarcasm again… :)

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 12, 2006 on 10:57 pm

    Also Randall I do adhere to Eddingtons Oscillating Universe and the theory of the mobius where time becomes a loop. Science is not an uncomfortable ground for me. In terms of the universe being finite there is no definitive proof of that sorry nor does it speculate that the universe itself has an age simply that which occupies it. Also, your breakdown of mathematics is sorely lacking in that observation occurs many times to yet again to reduce variables. It is not just preformed once as to calculate variables of improbability. Science certainly does provide the ability to see the laws while at the same time providing the variables of improbability through mathematics in some cases so specifically to create absolute certainty for what we can observe.

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 12, 2006 on 11:14 pm

    Also Randall I do adhere to Eddingtons Oscillating Universe and the Theory of the Mobius. Science is not an uncomfortable ground for me. Also, your breakdown of mathematics is sorely lacking in that observation occurs many times to yet again to reduce variables. It is not just performed once as to calculate variables of improbability. Science certainly does provide the ability to see the laws which provide the framework for what we have come to rely and build upon, while at the same time providing the variables of improbability through mathematics in some cases so specifically to create near certainty for what we can observe in an controlled environment. Please do not discredit mathematics. Speculation with mathematics provides a better framework in context to the universe than your philosophical mumbo jumbo. Ha! Ohh, and the chess game, I told you what I was going to try, of course I was going to lose. I lost my bishop and queen too soon for such a good opponent too soon. :)

    Reply
  • surreal2u April 12, 2006 on 11:15 pm

    WOW, I just read what I wrote and I am not even sure it makes sense. Sorry, it’s late and I am tired.

    Reply
  • The Fearsome Randall April 13, 2006 on 1:00 pm

    >Also Randall I do adhere to Eddingtons Oscillating Universe

    My argument was that the only way in which you can think of the Universe as ‘infinite’ is with some form of Self-negating Universe (e.g. an oscillating Universe would fit that description).

    Another reason why we may be talking past each other is that your notion of the “infinite” might actually be finite. For example, the classic way of understading “infinite” is simply a tedious and ceasless addition of individual finite units in time or space. In this way the infinite is not too profound to grasp, but instead it’s too tedius.

    Another problem with the traditional understanding of the “infinite” is that it is in opposition to the finite, or it is limited by the finite. This is an obvious contradiciton. The above two examples are of course not infinity. Of course it is easier to tell you what infinity is not than it is to tell you what it is.

    But envisaging the necessary conditions of an oscillating universe is a good start.

    First we must contemplate what the notion of “singularity” necessarily implies (i.e. singularity as in the theory of the Big Bang).

    “Singularity” is not the smallest concievable point that you can imagine, that would only be a figurative representation. “Singularity” can only be “envisaged” as a logical relationship.

    “Singularity” is necessarily a pure self-relation. This means that it is not in relationship with anything. It is only a pure identity with itself. That is, it is a pure self-same singularity. In Logic this is the same thing as ‘pure being’. A pure self-relation is of course completely indeterminate.

    >In terms of the universe being finite there is no definitive
    >proof of that sorry nor does it speculate that the universe
    >itself has an age simply that which occupies it.

    What is an empty universal? Nothing! The universal (e.g. the Universe) is a class, the particular (e.g. something that is in the universe) is an undifferentiated member of the class. As a class, the universal owes its constituitve generality to the differentiation of members. The plurality of members is something on which the universal depends, for only if the universal is something shared by more than one exemplar can it stand suitably distinct from the particular belonging to it as a class.

    If the universal is described to have only one member then it ceases to have any universality.

    Therefore the Universe is necessarily constituted by its particulars that belong to it.

    [Note] Additionally Chris I think that it is relatively uncontroversial that through the measurement of light waves physicists have placed a limit on these constituitive parts of the Universe.

    When we think of Infinity and the Universe , it is not the interminable vastness of the Universe that constitutes its infinity, but the fact that the Universe is “mind-like”.

    I can’t explain how the Universe is mind-like here but it is related to the fact that the universe spontaneously immanates from a self-same singularity.

    The necessary conditions of the cognition are also a “self-relation”.

    >Also, your breakdown of mathematics is sorely lacking in
    >that observation occurs many times to yet again to reduce
    > variables.

    Okay let’s try again Chris. I asked:

    “How much value does mathematics have in a pure indeterminacy?”

    There aren’t any numbers, and there aren’t any variables in a pure indeterminacy. If there were numbers or varibles (as you mention) then it wouldn’t be a pure indeterminacy.

    In this way logic is more primordial than mathematics, because logic necessarily begins from a presuppositionless beginning.

    A pure indeterminacy would be the point in which mathematics breaks down into either an incalculable infinity, or an incalculable nil.

    The challenge for Logic is to get from a pure indeterminacy to something determinate. This is the old problem of something from nothing (i.e. creativity).

    For me this is the same problem of the movement from “singularity” to the Big Bang.

    >Science certainly does provide the ability to see the laws
    >which provide the framework for what we have come to
    > rely and build upon

    Where are the laws of the Universe before the Big Bang? They’re in the same place where they are now. They are a metaphysical assumption! The laws of the Universe and the laws of Mathematics are thought of as mysteriously occupying an “other worldly realm of law” beyond the Universe pulling the strings. We don’t see the laws. We merely measure the material regularities. When something is measured over and over again we call it a law. However, we can never measure all time, and all space.

    In order to solve the greatest mystery of all we must go to the the self-same source of everything and enter into self-determining spirit (i.e. we can’t just envisage infinity, we must enter into it).

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  • surreal2u April 13, 2006 on 2:01 pm

    Different direction. I understand but still weak, excuse me fearsome Randall. :)

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  • Matthew April 13, 2006 on 2:21 pm

    I don’t think it’s a weak argument but it is a very philosophical approach to science. Randall is using is using words with very specific meanings in the Hegelian lexicon (i.e. class, universal, particular, pure being, logic, and self-relation). Unless you’ve read at least an introduction to Hegel it is sometimes difficult to see where he’s going.

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  • surreal2u April 13, 2006 on 6:53 pm

    So, we finally see what it takes to get you to play along. That’s why they call it devil’s advocate. It’s just nice to see you join from time to time. We are doing this as much to get you involved as we are to exchange ideas. I respect what Randy has to say. And your dig has not gone unoticed. :) Randy has spent too much time to formulate and research his ideas for me to ever discredit him with a staged opinion but getting you to interject more frequently is like pulling teeth.

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  • Jerrick Boucher April 21, 2009 on 10:54 pm

    Contrary to what was last posted. The article did answer the question in my opinion. Referencing the rule 2 (Evolution is simply an organism’s adaptation to a local environment.) The question being (What’s Next in Human Evolution?) was simply answered. There will be genetic mutations but whether that helps or hinder the organism determines if it survives in the current enviroment. As long as the human species adapt and survives then there will be little evolution on a mass scale that is unless a major diaster occurs (comets, nukes meteorites) which wipes out the majority species leaving the remaining to inhabit the earth. The species in this hypothetical that does survive would have “evolved” according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.” ) In this senario humans would become the less adaptive if eliminated and an evolution would occur at the point. I believe its hard to speculate whether a major evolution would occur to the human species being we are the most adaptive in this current environment unless something significant happens to the earth which causes the human to become the least adaptive as like with the dino’s which did rule the earth like humans do now but became extint do to a major significant diaster causing an evolution to occur. Basically as long as we are adapting to the environment large speculations about evolution could not become true.

    Reply
  • Jerrick April 21, 2009 on 11:22 pm

    Contrary to what was last posted. The article did answer the question in my opinion. Referencing the rule 2 (Evolution is simply an organism’s adaptation to a local environment.) The question being (What’s Next in Human Evolution?) was simply answered. There will be genetic mutations but whether that helps or hinder the organism determines if it survives in the current enviroment. As long as the human species adapt and survives then there will be little evolution on a mass scale that is unless a major diaster occurs (comets, nukes meteorites) which wipes out the majority species leaving the remaining to inhabit the earth. The species in this hypothetical that does survive would have “evolved” according to Darwin’s theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.” ) In this senario humans would become the less adaptive if eliminated and an evolution would occur at the point. I believe its hard to speculate whether a major evolution would occur to the human species being we are the most adaptive in this current environment unless something significant happens to the earth which causes the human to become the least adaptive as like with the dino’s which did rule the earth like humans do now but became extint do to a major significant diaster causing an evolution to occur. Basically as long as we are adapting to the environment large speculations about evolution could not become true. In my opinion there can be an significant change in the environment (climate) that could cause machines to become a support system for the human species to survive. Being that machines are not species they cant evolve but they can become a dominant force in nature but only to support the survival of humans. To speculate, technology and its dominance now in the world helps the humans to become more fit and adaptable in the environment. What if a diaster climate change does occurs and the humans species or any other organism could not survive without technology? Could you then call that evolution? Then how could you describe technology and machines when referencing survival? They would be tools for survival as like a nest is a tool for support and the survival of birds. If this was to happen machines would have to become more complex and smarter to aid the organisms of the earth. Would we control technology or vice versa? Clearly at that point we would have to adapt to technology and its sophistication in order to survive then I believe we could call that evolution in some instances.

    Reply
  • Jerrick April 21, 2009 on 11:26 pm

    In my opinion there can be an significant change in the environment (climate) that could cause machines to become a support system for the human species to survive. Being that machines are not species they cant evolve but they can become a dominant force in nature but only to support the survival of humans. To speculate, technology and its dominance now in the world helps the humans to become more fit and adaptable in the environment. What if a diaster climate change does occurs and the humans species or any other organism could not survive without technology? Could you then call that evolution? Then how could you describe technology and machines when referencing survival? They would be tools for survival as like a nest is a tool for support and the survival of birds. If this was to happen machines would have to become more complex and smarter to aid the organisms of the earth. Would we control technology or vice versa? Clearly at that point we would have to adapt to technology and its sophistication in order to survive then I believe we could call that evolution in some instances.

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  • Kevin Graham May 6, 2009 on 7:21 pm

    Of course he answered it. What else are you expecting, specifics?

    Do you want Matt to support the delusion that we’re all gonna be X-men some day? Maybe that itch in your fore arms is the early evolutionary sign of bone claws.

    Reply
  • Matthew July 3, 2009 on 6:09 pm

    Here is an interesting lecture that Stephen Hawking gave on this topic.

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  • autoversicherung vergleich October 18, 2010 on 4:37 am

    I am doing research for my university thesis, thanks for your excellent points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

    – Kris

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  • Marchel November 20, 2010 on 1:44 pm

    I have recently been thinking that there is a possibility that humans are coming to the end of their evolution. It is like nature has allowed us to evolve so that we could achieve what it was not able to do. Create new combinations.

    We should not just be looking at the evolution of life, but also at the evolution of the atom. Are we not all just a combination of minerals who in turn are made of atoms. Would seem like atoms are trying to reassemble them selves, back to what it was before, before the big bang. I know that this sounds far fetched but it will make sense.

    Atoms where created after the big bang when an unimaginable amount of energy got released, that in turn created atoms. The atoms then started creating different combinations of atoms. every time they started clumping together their mass increased and the would be able to pull more atoms towards them. This went on until planets got formed. Planets had heat at their core from immense pressure thus being able to create some atom combinations that it was not able to create without pressure.

    Over time every combination has been tried. Some caused gasses and others created fluids. The gasses stayed close to the planet due to the gravity thus moving around causing friction that causes lighting. Lightning was then able to create other combinations that was not possible before. This went on until it created amino acids which in turn with further combinations from the new combinations that has been created by the lightning and heat created the first life. At this point the standard Darwin model steps in, so I will skip to cave men.

    The combinations/evolution has lead to this point. now we had to evolve. There is big plans for us. we would develop intelligence and a curiosity. we had to combine everything. It was in our nature.

    Now combinations are being tried that was not previously possible.
    We are creating the next evolution of the atom.

    What we see around us is the evolution of the atoms next big thing.

    Electronics has harnessed the humble lightning bolt in a controllable form and is now trying every possible combination.

    The next step could be Artificial intelligence. Electronics that can create other combinations.

    I also just want to point out that there possibly will be other planets out there where the evolution of the atom is more advanced than ours. They could have combinations that we dont have. Thus it would stand to reason that at some point those combinations will meet up somehow.

    By looking at it this way it would mean that humans wont have any significant changes until we are exposed to combinations that has not been on our planet before.

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  • Frankly Guessing March 1, 2011 on 7:15 am

    It is my opinion that the next big step in human evolution will be the ability to use a greater portion of our brain. What might bring about this change? I think that man himself will. Be it through genetic engineering, AI, or just a natural shift in our thought patterns caused by an event that man himself has orchestrated. This certainly doesnt rule out other possibilities like climatic change, global disaster or disease but with advances in technology coming at us with light speed man has a real need to advance his mind. The coming age will demand more and more thought to keep up with the status quo. The one thing that gets results is need.

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  • Matthew March 2, 2011 on 2:17 am

    Here is an interesting take on this topic from Seed magazine: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/humans_version_3.0/

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  • GIn December 26, 2011 on 8:10 pm

    We will become MUTANTS just like the X-MEN.. oh yeah!! raaAWwr i like wolverine with its claws…

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