A new idea just popped into my head. Now, I can’t think of a name for this new idea, but I am hoping one already exists. Maybe I am slow to the draw and this field already exists. So, please help me if you can.
Here is the idea: Biological Evolution is dead.
It has to be. Human evolution is no longer controlled by biology, it is controlled by technology. Look at these examples:
A person with a cochlear ear implant is, by his senses, 20% machine/robot.
A person with 2 prosthetic legs is, by his appendages, 50% machine/robot.
Humans and not biological evolution have, by far, the greatest impact on every species on earth.
The human brain will be drastically improved by technological evolution, thousands of years before it is improved by technological evolution.
These are just a few examples of how technology is controlling our evolution. I am sure you can think of many more. So, is biological evolution really dead? Have we already pushed aside biology and natural evolution and put ourselves in control of our own evolution?
I would say yes. To confirm this suspicion I tried doing some web browsing but found nothing. I am really intrigued by this thought and I hope to learn more. Does anyone out there know more than I do? Can you point me to some studies that looked into this?
The best I can do is recommend the book, The Singularity is Near, and the clip, the machine is us. Also, I will throw out the best name I could think of for this topic: Evolutionary Technology.
There are a few books about this idea out there. I think it’s a little premature to say that biological evolution is dead. Technology is a lot faster, and a lot more powerful in a short time, but there are still several biological traits that could be rapidly selected for in the future. An easy example is a disease outbreak. Even with advanced medical technology, we are still very vulnerable to another worldwide epidemic, and it could be that natural genetic immunities would still be an important factor for natural selection, and not just access to modern technology.
Ian – great point, epidemics do spread quickly and usually quickly enough to effect generations. That is evolution in decades.
Wow – I wonder how long this will continue to effect us? I guess one of the most influential human breakthroughs will occur when we are able to decode the human immune system (and then improve it).
Here’s some people that are taking that to an even more extreme level and trying to make it a reality.
I’ve actually been in chats with Eliezer online before, but he didn’t impress me too much. He seems pretty smart, I just don’t know about the possibility of creating an AI that is actually conscious and leads towards the singularity.
It’s certainly not possible with any programming language we have today, even though it’s an open argument as to whether the human brain is equivalent to a Turing machine.
This may sound rather tactless, but I really would hope that my parents had good genes and I don’t come out with some random deficiency that doesn’t let me enjoy life to the fullest without a machine. I do applaud the people that are born with limitations and able to overcome them through technology and will power. Like the guy without legs that was on CNN, because he was trying to get into the Beijing olympics. He runs on these carbon fiber feet, which is SWEET – http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/15/sports/othersports/15runner.html?ex=1184644800&en=bd33529fb389bd13&ei=5070
Enhancement isn’t really evolutionary until we can pass it to offspring, right? I mean, I could have all the implants and prosthetics yet invented, but my kids wouldn’t be born with any of these improvements. So long as we reproduce biologically, it seems biological evolution will remain relevant. Maybe this is what you’re describing in reference to Artificial Intelligence, but it seems to me that the only way to declare biological evolution “dead” is to create reproducing machines. I suppose we could also just become machines and stop reproducing altogether. Worth a try!
Skeptical – good point. Reproduction plays an important role in evolution. But how long is that going to ring true?
I guess this is argueable, but parents pass down just as much through genes as through teaching. A parent could pass along the technological innovations to their children. Most do now.
So, I guess, in the future the weird thing will be how quickly parents can get their kids technically evolved. I see it already starting to happen. A lot of kids are proficient in computers, cell phones, and other electronics before they can read. What a weird thought – “here pumpkin put this chip in your brain it has lots of children’s books on it.”
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