Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Next Step in Human Evolution

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the transhumanity-unite dept.

Biotech 660

PrivateDonut writes "Where is evolution taking our species? MSNBC has up an article that examines where evolution could take the human race. The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups." From the article: "Such ideas may sound like little more than science-fiction plot lines. But trend-watchers point out that we're already wrestling with real-world aspects of future human development, ranging from stem-cell research to the implantation of biocompatible computer chips. The debates are likely to become increasingly divisive once all the scientific implications sink in." Class, please read Transmetropolitan for homework.

cancel ×

660 comments

possible first split (2, Interesting)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535113)

I would think that the tech haves and have nots would be the first split the the tech folks would split into mech and bio only engineering.

Re:possible first split (4, Funny)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535199)

That sounds exactly like the plot in the anime Gundam Seed, followed by the plot in the game Total Annihilation.

God I need to get a life >_

Complete rubbish (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535119)

We all know that Human evolution is shorty to be off shored to Mars because martians are a dime a dozen and grow faster in the reduced gravity.

Re:Complete rubbish (2, Funny)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535321)

... shorty to be offshored to Mars ...

If there's a chance of growing faster, shorty will probably be first in line.

scientists make terrible .. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535121)

.. fascists.

whatever the human species 'evolves into', who cares? its not going to feed anyone, today, thinking about it .. is it?

Re:scientists make terrible .. (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535317)

but if we have a plan for the furture it might feed plenty of people in the furture...
something else to think about...

windows longhorn gives it away! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535122)

by the time it comes out.. males will have evolved to have longer horns, which will undoubtedly impress the females.

Who else? (1)

mattdev121 (727783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535123)

Who else read the dept. line as trashhumanity dept.?

I expected the article to be about trailer parks or something.

Where it is taking us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535124)

Why do we have to believe evolution is taking us anywhere?

Pinky toe (2, Funny)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535125)

OK, that little useless thing on your foot commonly referred to as "the pinky toe" has to go. Other than ramming it into doors and such (causing great pain on colorful metaphors) I have found no practical use for it, so, according to Darwin. It has to go.

And hopefully the creationists stay out of this one, lets leave the flame wars to Fark.

Re:Pinky toe (3, Insightful)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535179)

Sadly, useless organs are not in quite the same hurry to go away as critical ones are to appear.

So the species will have to deal with having a pinky toe, hair in uncomfortable places and organs such as the appendix a while longer.

Re:Pinky toe (5, Interesting)

xplenumx (703804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535204)

OK, that little useless thing on your foot commonly referred to as "the pinky toe" has to go. Other than ramming it into doors and such (causing great pain on colorful metaphors) I have found no practical use for it, so, according to Darwin. It has to go.

Does that pinky toe hinder your ability to breed? If not, then why should 'evolution care'?

Re:Pinky toe (3, Funny)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535242)

"Does that pinky toe hinder your ability to breed?"

running around screaming like a lunatic and punching walls doesn't usually put my girlfriend in the mood, so....

Re:Pinky toe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535276)

You have a girlfriend?

Re:Pinky toe (5, Funny)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535297)

Yes.

Scenario 1 - Guy with pinky toe:
Hot woman: Hey there, wanna come over?
Guy: Hell yeah, let me walk ov... GOD DAMN IT I JUST STUBBED MY PINKY TOE... sweet mother of God this hurts. Make it go away!
Hot woman: Wuss.

Scenario 2 - Guy w/o pinky toe:
Hot woman: Hey there, wanna come over?
Guy: Hell yeah, let me walk over there.
Hot woman: WTF happened to your pinky toe?
Guy: I got rid of it. For you. It means more of my blood can now be used for a thicker, long lasting erection.
Hot woman: Nice.

Re:Pinky toe (1)

SA Stevens (862201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535327)

Does that pinky toe hinder your ability to breed? If not, then why should 'evolution care'?

Because people keep ramming it into door jambs, which:

1. Spoils the mood tremendously.

2. Causes the toe to become infected, subject dies before breeding can commence.

Human evolution (5, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535127)

Human evolution has reached the point where other then learning to breathe in a low oxygen area (like underwater) or being able to fly we've pretty much at the peak we can be at.

Over the years we've evolved to use tools and tools have kept us up with the latest evolutionary fad. We're pretty much a stable mutation of a monkey (with other obvious mutations still happening once in a while). Other then learning to fly or breathing water we can't adapt any more to our planet.

When humans move to another world with more problems we will probably start evolving again. Untill then why risk evolving and screwing ourselvs over if we take the wrong path?

Re:Human evolution (5, Interesting)

bheer (633842) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535153)

There could _lots_ of beneficial mutations even in our current environment... photographic memory, better regeneration... the problem is, our technology actually _breeds_ biological consistency: a mutant will sooner be carted off to hospital than be allowed to live out the rest of his life as he would normally (which may mean a brutish existence for many but _could_ allow a rare mutant to emerge).

Re:Human evolution (5, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535333)

I agree.

Another limitation is that humans in the industrialized nations have more or less driven out natural selection. For example, stupid people are protected, if anything, it is someone else's fault that a stupid person did something that could have killed them. Sometimes the brain dead are allowed to live for fifteen years.

The highly intellectual people become either smart enough to not reproduce (contraceptives), reproduce less by choice or don't reproduce often because of social factors. Stupid people reproduce like rabbits, some of them start before they leave highschool.

Re:Human evolution (3, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535228)

Well for starters we could get rid of those violent tendancies, they don't seem to help anyone. And whats with religion? If our brains could wire themselves not to need it we'd have it made in the shade.

How about better lungs to breath pollutants, or immunity to STD's... or bigger brains to suit our lifestyle, these days physical strength is less important, we could spend a little more energy on our brains don't you think.

We are far from perfect but thats not a bad thing, it just means we have room for improvement.

Re:Human evolution (0, Troll)

SA Stevens (862201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535283)

Sounds like you consider wanking around at raves 'evolutionary progress.'

Hmm..

Re:Human evolution (1)

weorthe (666189) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535326)

Human evolution is already under our own control. Bio-mechanical extensions of our abilities, like cell phones and PDAs, "wearable computers", will become increasingly smaller and more integrated into our bodies. We will be able to interface with computer networks and each other just by mumbling inaudibly, or by thinking. Artificial replacements for body parts with enhanced capabilities, from eyes to limbs to breasts, are already becoming commonplace, or at least imaginable. Genetic selection in the womb is already occuring as parents discard damaged embryos, or embryos of the wrong gender. Or they pick and choose ova and sperm with the qualities they value from a donor bank. Soon "repaired" or modified human genomes will be available. And otherwise increasingly sophisticated drugs can provide us with the characteristics (height, weight, mental "health") we desire.

Step aside mother nature, we don't need you any more.

Re:Human evolution (4, Interesting)

andreMA (643885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535348)

pretty much at the peak we can be at.
I'm reminded of the (perhaps apocryphal) story of the guy who quit the patent office in the 1890's because "everything had already been invented" Yes, I know your point was that we're not presently under evolutionary pressure, not that we're "perfect" as it is; your phrasing just struck me as humorous.

I can think of numerous potential beneficial evolutionary changes, some incremental and some more radical:

  • Better detoxification in heavy metal poisoning: self chelation therapy
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Continued adaptation to upright posture: stronger vein walls to prevent varicose veins/hemorrhoids.
  • Further widening of the female pelvis to ease childbirth
  • Additional articulation of fingers
  • Auxillary sensory organs on hands (taste/smell/vision/vibration (hearing))
  • Seperation of eating and breathing functions - no more choking to death on food
  • Controlled background processing of thought (unlike the rather chaotic 'subconscious reasoning' we practice today)
  • Ability to regrow missing/damaged limbs and organs (eg, axlotyl)

Re:Human evolution (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535349)

There are plenty of other things we can evolve. Better eyes for seeing in the dark (or even better, eyes that can view computer monitors for extreme long periods of time)...
Of course when we look back everything seems to fall into place, but looking forward is always blurry. People 100 years ago probably couldnt see much of what we have become now.

Space... (5, Insightful)

zaydana (729943) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535128)

"The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups." Well, if we are seperated into seperate environments that would probably have the same effect as being seperated into seperate groups. That probably means that we will evolve in space. It makes sense as well, we could still evolve to "work better" in microgravity... we could still evolve to run better on different air, maybe purer or less pure oxygen. And since we're in smaller gruops in space, according to this, we are going to have an even greater chance of evolution. So, is space travel going to bring on the next stage of human evolution?

10 reasons why the US is hated all over the world. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535129)

10 reasons why the US are is hated.

1. The US has started (and "encouraged") more wars and murdered more
humans in a 50 year period than anyone else before in recorded
history.

2.The world constantly watches images of starving children whilst in
the US people are dying of over eating.

3. The US boasts that it has spent billions on being able to bomb
anyone, anywhere on the planet. Meanwhile starvation, and premature
death continue to affect millions of people worldwide whose only crime
was being born where they were.

4 The US makes virtuous speeches about fairness, liberty and justice
then continues to enact policies designed to keep a third of the world
in a state of constant starvation. For example, The US purposely
stopped the supply of cheap non-brand Aids drugs to Africa just to
placate the drugs industry. As a result millions will die who could
have been saved.

5. The continual support by the US of regimes that oppress their
people so that other US parties can gain an economic foothold.

6 The American belief that profit is all. People don't count.

7. American hypocrisy. ( I feel most of us in this NG could write a
book on this one but I'll keep it short)
Virtue, honesty, truth. None of these mean anything when US economic
advantage is at stake. We have watched the US invade and murder
thousands all in the name of "regime change" or "protecting US
economic interests" in various countries. If they haven't been there
pulling the triggers you can be sure they paid for one sides (or both)
weapons.

There isn't a continent on this planet that the US aren't killing
people directly or indirectly. Even their own yet the US tells the
rest of the world that they cannot have weapons that kill
indiscriminately. ( the US has once again refused to stop using
cluster bombs and uranium tipped shells) and is the only country to
have used nuclear weapons and poison gases to kill thousands of
people.

8. The continual military support of Israel and it's attempted
genocide of the Palestinian people. Once again, humans die to protect
US economic advantage.

9 The insane belief that most Americans in this NG espouse that we
(the rest of the world) are jealous. That somehow we are not affected
by the murder and slaughter committed by US troops all over the globe.
That somehow, other humans , i.e us, should not criticise the US govt
for the same reasons Americans don't. WRONG. We are not blinded by
your flag If anything the US has taught us a lot about the dangers of
blind loyalty backed only by a flag. Your govt kills innocents then
hides behind the flag and you idiots buy it all.

10. The worst criminals in all this are the US electorate because they
are the only ones who can stop this slaughter but they refuse to
acknowledge their govt has done any wrong. Even with 90% of the world
screaming for the US to stop killing , the electorate do nothing. You
just sit there, hiding behind the flag or using any excuse your govt
has given you to justify the continual slaughter of innocents.

So don't ask me why America is so hated. I find it more interesting
to know how the world will respond eventually to a country that is
nothing but evil. And respond we will.

Re:10 reasons why the US is hated all over the wor (1)

tofucubes (869110) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535182)

quite a few of those reasons seem to be "you're rich provide" for others. as a person living in america I will say that how much money we can make is not as important as what services can be obtained with the money. While I agree the US should help out...it seems unfair to neglect other countries that do the same.

Re:10 reasons why the US is hated all over the wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535338)

are you really that ignorant?

other wealthy democracies like the UK, Western Europe, Australia, Japan DO help out - WITHOUT killing thousands of innocent people in the process.

Re:10 reasons why the US is hated all over the wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535302)

Ha, ha. You make me laugh!

Re:10 reasons why the US is hated all over the wor (1)

xactuary (746078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535314)

Gosh. You make us sound like... Anonymous Cowards.

Ooh I know! I know! (4, Funny)

Xpilot (117961) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535130)

Adamantium claws. Telepathy. Electromagnetism. Weather control. Yeah you read it right, they'll discover that there is a gene that controls weather.

And they'll dress in spandex and fight each other for survival and/or world supremecy.

I for one, will be very entertained by our new mutant overlords.

Pass the popcorn.

Re:Ooh I know! I know! (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535334)

Yeah you read it right, they'll discover that there is a gene that controls weather.

They've already discovered that gene. Turns out it is present in puppies, but gets disabled in adult dogs. So next time rain ruins your picnic, remember this and kick a puppy. Make sure to tell everyone that the rain is the puppy's fault, so they don't think you're kicking puppies for no reason. That'd be mean.

WARNING WARNING NSFC (5, Funny)

jackcarter (884148) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535131)

Why can't people EVER use the "Not Safe For Church" tag on these things?

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535155)

Why make it a church issue? Is it so important to knock down those who believe something different?

I believe God created earth and that only microevolution has really had a chance to occur, but if you don't believe that then that's fine. I would hope everyone would give God a chance, but that's a decision you and everyone has to make for yourselves.

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (3, Funny)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535219)

And you sir should give Galuthuzar a chance. He created the earth out of the intestine of the Great Sinless Goat 150 years ago. My Grandpa said so, and if you don't believe you'll be thrown into the great Walrus' pit, where you will be gorged for eternity!

But don't worry, the sinless goat will return one day, and shepard it's children into the great valley where we will know only the finest grass for eating.

I agree with you though, that only basic evolution has occured since then. I mean, anyone who looks for logical evidence and who believes that in this INCREDIBLY INSANELY HUGE world there is life outside this earth is surely a nut job.

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (1)

jackcarter (884148) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535252)

I don't not believe in God because of my firm belief in something else, that would be ridiculous. We haven't firmly proved anything at this stage. I keep an open mind to everything until there is firm evidence against it. I just think that believing in a God because thousands of years ago some people wrote a book trying to explain the unexplainable by means of an all powerful being is more closed-minded. Can someone please tell me how I could have avoided that double negative? Language needs parentheses.

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535341)

Can someone please tell me how I could have avoided that double negative?

Yes. If you'd put your faith in Jesus then the double negative would not have been needed.

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (3, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535298)

Why make it a church issue? Is it so important to knock down those who believe something different?

Because every time I tell a conservative person that I want to live 500 years and have cat's eyes and coordination to run through the moon-lit forest, they look funny at me?

The majority of the kerfuffle about stem cell research revolves around DNA having a soul but there is also the undercurrent of "man in God's image" that is going to be a major issue in this or next century. And it will equally revolve around "moral values" as empirically groundless. Undoubtedly everyone except the Jehovah's Witnesses will be overjoyed to have genetic treatment for cancer -- but just try to enhance any capability above the "God-given" norm and we will have social unrest.

Recommend Bruce Sterling's early Schizmatrix on this. He was still getting up to speed on the writing thing but it is precisely about the species differentiating as groups become isolated populating the solar system.

Re:WARNING WARNING NSFC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535282)

I am a Catholic, you insensitive clod!

The Danger of Race-denial (-1, Offtopic)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535132)

May 01, 2005

If Race Research Is Banned Now, How Will We Cope With A "Brave New World"? [vdare.com]

By Steve Sailer [vdare.com]

Through genetic selection and modification, we will be soon be able to transform human nature, for better . . . or worse.

Some find this exciting. I find it mostly alarming.

The good news: we still have time to figure out what the physical, psychological, and social impacts of these gene-altering technologies might be - by studying naturally-occurring human genetic diversity.

The bad news: we won't fund research into existing human biodiversity [vdare.com] - because it's politically incorrect. [vdare.com]

Genetic engineering, and associated technologies such as neural implants, is explored in two new books.

Microsoft programmer Ramez Naam [morethanhuman.org] , author of More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement [amazon.com] , never seems to have met an idea for fiddling around with our genes that he didn't like. I find his optimism likable even though I don't share it. Unfortunately, the numerous small errors of fact in his book saps confidence in his overall reliability.

In contrast, Washington Post reporter Joel Garreau [kurzweilai.net] - known to VDARE.COM readers as author of the provocative The Nine Nations Of North America [amazon.com] - can't seem to make up his mind in his upcoming Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies--and What It Means to Be Human [amazon.com] .

Garreau evenhandedly interviews futurist cheerleaders, like inventor Ray Kurzweil [kurzweiltech.com] , who takes hundreds of nutritional supplements [washingtonpost.com] daily as part of his plan for living forever, [amazon.com] and doomsayers, like Sun Microsystems [google.com] co-founder Bill Joy [wired.com] , who fears that genetically manipulated germs could wipe out all of humanity.

(The inaptly named Joy strikes me as a Gloomy Gus. But, just in case some apocalyptic catastrophe does transpire, it would make sense to pay a couple of dozen military families to live for two year stretches at the bottom of a Kansas salt mine, from which, if the worst were to happen, they could eventually re-emerge like Noah's family [biblegateway.com] to repopulate the planet.)

What Naam and Garreau can agree upon is that the post-human age will be here Real Soon Now. [isteve.com]

I'm not so certain. Medicine [vdare.com] progresses slowly these days. But I am sure that that it's time to start getting serious about whether we want it or not.

The situation oddly resembles the political impact of immigration. When I first started writing about immigration, it was widely assumed that the Hispanic share of the vote had become so huge that it was political suicide to try to cut back on immigration. Yet closer study showed this was far from true. [vdare.com]

For example, in the overall 2004 exit poll, [vdare.com] the un-massaged Hispanic share of the respondents turned out to be only 5.9 percent, far below the 8 or 9 percent forecast by Michael Barone. [vdare.com]

Similarly, when it comes to human bioengineering, the future hasn't yet gone through the formality of taking place. [vdare.com]

We still have time to figure out what we want to do and what we don't.

But how? Answer: By studying honestly [vdare.com] the human genetic diversity we see all around us - and learning how it already affects society. [vdare.com]

Unfortunately, political taboos [vdare.com] against the study of human biodiversity retard this crucial work.

Occasionally, I get emails telling me I'm foolish to worry about the long term effects of immigration because genetic engineering will soon give us all IQs of 1,000 ... or we'll live forever ... or robots will take over and enslave us ... or nanotechnology [reason.com] will make us all richer than Croesus ... or nanotechnology will run amok and suck all the life out of everything on Earth ... or ...

But technological trees don't always grow to the sky. Consider the rise and fall of the Transportation Revolution. From the development of the steamship to the moon landing took less than 170 years. Smart science fiction writers like Robert A. Heinlein [heinleinsociety.org] assumed that this progress would continue. [proboards22.com]

Yet, in the last quarter of a century, the greatest breakthrough in transportation technology has been, what, the minivan? The Concorde is dead, the Space Shuttle is teetering ...

Nor do technical revolutions always arrive on time. Medical gene engineering of humans has been much slower to become usable than many assumed a decade ago.

One problem: getting the effectiveness to risk level high enough. Operating on humans isn't like engineering corn or mice, where you can throw away your mistakes.

Another difficulty: although there was a vast amount of publicity back in 2000 about how the genome had been "mapped," we still don't know what most genes actually do.

Moreover, while a few diseases, such as sickle cell anemia and Huntington's, are the result of a single bad gene, the big bad illnesses seem to have other causes. Indeed, Darwinian logic, as first enunciated by Gregory Cochran [quantumbalancing.com] , suggests we might have been focusing too hard on finding heritable genetic causes for diseases. In the words of top British genetic journalist Matt Ridley, "Your genes don't exist to kill you."

A new report called " Microbial Triggers of Common Human Illness [asm.org] " from the American Academy of Microbiology supports Cochran's insight that many diseases that are assumed genetic may more likely be triggered by germs.

That's because natural selection would tend to eliminate harmful genes in us, but pathogens evolve at least as fast as our defenses against them.

Your genes haven't evolved to make you sick, but to give you capabilities to survive and reproduce. So genetic technologies might be more suited to enhance skills than to cure illnesses.

Yet some capacities are likely to require many genes working together in complex ways, so the payoff from altering a single gene would be small. Superstar cognitive scientist [vdare.com] Steven Pinker has said [bioethics.gov] , "I think an Achilles heel of genetic enhancement will be the rarity of single genes with consistent beneficial psychological effects."

Considering the intricacy of the human brain, this is particularly likely to be true of intelligence, which would make engineering higher IQs difficult.

Conversely, single genes often have multiple uses, which means that genetic engineering could often have unfortunate side effects.

For example, back in 1999, Time Magazine ran a cover story called " The I.Q. Gene? [time.com] " about how Dr. Joe Tsien had genetically engineered "Doogie" mice to have superior memories. [scu.edu]

But subsequent studies showed the Doogie mice (named after the supersmart TV character Doogie Howser, M.D [kfcplainfield.com] .) are also more sensitive to chronic inflammatory pain, [nootropics.com] which isn't a trait you'd want your children to possess.

Farmers have been modifying their barnyard animals' genetic frequencies for thousands of years through selective breeding. One of the many interesting aspects of the new book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior [amazon.com] by animal sciences professor Temple Grandin [grandin.com] , who is America's best known autistic [amazon.com] , is how she documents some of the weird things that go wrong when breeders emphasize a single genetic trait.

For example, don't expect Lassie [lassie.net] to figure out anymore that the way to rescue little Timmy [reviewjournal.com] from the quicksand is by extending a long branch to him. Since WWII, collie breeders have been trying to give collies narrower and narrower snouts because they look so darn elegant that way. Unfortunately, they made their skulls so narrow there is no room left for brains. Collies are now dumb as a box of rocks.

Side effects can be more unpredictable and even nastier. In recent years, as chicken ranchers have bred for more meat on their birds, they've had to deal with [proboards32.com] an unprecedented rash of rooster sex murderers who kill hens.

In humans, Cochran [jerrypournelle.com] has pointed out that torsion dystonia, [emedicine.com] a hereditary illness which puts about 10 percent of its sufferers in wheelchairs at an early age, may be a side effect of intense selection pressure for higher IQ. In one study, the average IQ of patients was 122.

So parents may not rush into genetic engineering their children quite as fast as the futurists expect.

Futurists--being smart, nerdy guys--generally assume that the most desirable human trait is IQ.

But we can look right now at racial groups with higher average IQs, such as Northeast Asians [vdare.com] and Ashkenazis [f2s.com] , to get some idea of the social impact of high IQ.

Higher IQ groups tend to exhibit positive social patterns such as low crime rates and high wealth creation rates. Unfortunately, what Amy Chua calls "market dominant minorities [vdare.com] " haven't always been looked upon favorably by the masses. Top IQ researcher Linda Gottfredson points out in her important article "What If the Hereditarian Hypothesis Is True?" [umn.edu] that "Virtually all the victim groups of genocide in the 20th century had relatively high average levels of achievement (e.g., German Jews, educated Cambodians, Russian Kulaks, Armenians in Turkey, Ibos in Nigeria)."

Among average people, it is not at all clear that intelligence is considered as desirable as desirability. I suspect that most parents would choose attractiveness over intelligence for their children, because being able to outcompete your peers for the best spouse is so important, especially in making grandchildren, that looks matter greatly.

Heinlein might have been the first thinker to explore some of the consequences.

In his prescient 1942 novel about a genetically engineered future, Beyond This Horizon [amazon.com] , the world is populated by fairly intelligent but extremely sexy people straight out of a Hollywood casting call.

The men are manly and the ladies lovely. The men are so macho, in fact, that no gentleman would be seen without his gun, and dueling has made a major comeback. The strict code of etiquette that limits when these square-jawed bravos are allowed to blast away at each other inspired Heinlein's famous remark, "An armed society is a polite society." [brainyquote.com]

As insightful as the best science fiction writers are, we can learn the pros and cons of a higher testosterone future society right now by examining the social behavior of current racial groups with higher levels of male hormones [unc.edu] and stronger male hormone receptors [phoenix5.org] , such as African-Americans [isteve.com] .

But, that kind of research on naturally occurring genetic diversity is largely taboo. [vdare.com] Instead, we will probably walk blindly into the era of genetic engineering.

Good luck to us all. We're going to need it.

[Steve Sailer [email [mailto] him], is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic [yahoo.com] for The American Conservative [amconmag.com] . His website www.iSteve.com [isteve.com] features site-exclusive commentaries.]

Re:The Danger of Race-denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535296)

"futurist cheerleaders, like inventor Ray Kurzweil, who takes hundreds of nutritional supplements daily as part of his plan for living forever,"

This is exactly what it's all about. It's like accepting having to adhere to a stringent diet and rigorous exercise for the rest of your 'natural' life instead of a small genetic modification that will allow you to just sit around and eat all you like and not gain a gram of fat like some other people you know.

As for "living forever", I think Aubrey de Grey's work is more promising: http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/AdGbio.htm [cam.ac.uk]

Of course, in our generation, this will not be perfected yet, but perhaps it will buy enough time.

how will this happen? (1)

muzik4machines (834892) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535133)

how will the human race be isolated again in this communication age? i really wonder if that means the end of evolution

Evolution in the most unlikely places? (2, Interesting)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535135)

"no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups."

Actually, there are still a few isolated groups of humans living in the world today - the two that immediately come to mind are the bushmen and pygmies of Africa. Does this mean that "civilized" men are doomed to be an evolutionary dead-end, while groups that seem primitive in our eyes will make the next leap forward?

Re:Evolution in the most unlikely places? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535245)

Eh, which group is largest, and likely to be largest forever? Us.

So, you fail at being armchair evolutionist.

Re:Evolution in the most unlikely places? (4, Interesting)

technothrasher (689062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535260)

Actually, there are still a few isolated groups of humans living in the world today - the two that immediately come to mind are the bushmen and pygmies of Africa.

Ah yes, the wild bushmen, left alone to live out simple lives... oh, and fight court battles with the government. So much for isolation.

http://www.wpherald.com/Africa/storyview.php?Story ID=20050420-094002-6437r [wpherald.com]

Evolution hasn't "stopped" (3, Insightful)

Nyago (784496) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535137)

From the summary: ...no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups.

Evolution will continue as long as DNA continues to mutate. To say that human evolution is at a standstill is ridiculous. We have been mutating (and remaining mostly unchanged, too) for hundreds of thousands of years. We haven't changed all that much because we're already incredibly well-adapted to our environment. Just look at the population. :P

In addition, our race has lived in isolated groups for most of its existence. Isolation only leads to inbreeding, which is generally a Bad Thing for evolution, as it limits the availability of new genetic material.

Of course, I have yet to RTFA...

Nonsense (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535141)

The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups.

Some humans clearly are more succesful at breeding than others. Some of this is clearly influenced by genetic factors. Mutation can still introduce new genetic factors that make succesful breeding more likely. We are still evolving. We will continue to evolve.

Not exactly (5, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535144)

The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups

No, the gist is that we won't have two seperate species of humans without isolation. Evolution doesn't stop.

Not only is that a very basic and obvious concept, it says exactly that in TFA.
FTFA:
"Evolution is still at work. But instead of diverging, our gene pool has been converging for tens of thousands of years -- and Stuart Pimm, an expert on biodiversity at Duke University, says that trend may well be accelerating."

And at this point, not only do we have natural mutations that could be dominant, we also have the ability to alter evolution through our own means.

I for one... (1)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535147)


I for one worship our super-rodent masters.

(rtfa, it's there)

Re:I for one... (1)

palfrey (198640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535262)

I for one welcome our super-rodent masters.
</pedant>

If you're going to go with a /. staple, at least get it right.

Radiation protection? (3, Insightful)

elgatozorbas (783538) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535150)

Survivalistian: Protective brow and skin layer contribute to "radiation hardening."

I highly doubt this: human intervention will outrun 'natural' changes in background radiation.

In general I have the impression that the article assumes human adaptation while engineering will probably be much more important: we unravel the DNA etc and cure diseases and make 'stronger' humans. Drawback of this: I don't want to sound like a Nazi, but I can imagine this counteracts 'natural selection'. If glasses wouldn't have been invented, everybody would have perfect eyesight etc...

Really looking at the situation (3, Interesting)

Henry V .009 (518000) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535165)

To answer the question, one has to look at which genes are reproducing themselves, and which aren't.

It's pretty clear that the environment has been dysgenic for intelligence in the modern world for at least a century. The more intelligent you are, the better education you get, and the more education you get, the less children you have.

The most likely outcome of future human evolution might be something like Kornbluth's "Marching Morons." Over the next few centuries, the average IQ of the human race will drop to 60-70.

The Flynn effect might be raised as an objection, but the Flynn effect is not genetic, so it can't affect this.

Re:Really looking at the situation (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535187)

More likely the smart ones will be born in other countries. Look at India.

Re:Really looking at the situation (2, Interesting)

xplenumx (703804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535280)

It's pretty clear that the environment has been dysgenic for intelligence in the modern world for at least a century. The more intelligent you are, the better education you get, and the more education you get, the less children you have.

I have to disagree - I find that social pressures play as much of a role in eduction as does intelligence. I certainly know of 'uneducated people' who I would consider to be brilliant - just not trained. Some of the individuals are there due to economic / immigration reasons (my janitor is Smart, with the capital S), while others either have difficult dealing with authority, are apathetic, or just plain lazy. On the flip side, I can think of several people who are incredibly book smart but can't think themselves out of a paper bag. On of my highschool classmages (way, way back when) is about as smart as a rock - but has an incredible job and makes tons of money thanks to his dad (must be nice).

Let's just say, I'm not too worried.

The politics of evolution have failed. (5, Insightful)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535166)

There will be no further naturally occurring evolution of the human race. Since medical science can overcome just about any malady, disfigurement, or defect--allowing anyone to procreate--there is no opportunity for nature to weed out anything. For example, 5000 years ago a man who had a faulty liver would most likely die and his genetic line might die with him. Today, a man with a faulty liver spends a coule of days in a hospital and is able to continue his genetic line. So in essence, science has outsmarted evolution. Survival of the fittest doesn't apply when everyone survives.

Re:The politics of evolution have failed. (1, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535229)

Not true in the slightest bit.

Science can not cure everything. You say science can overcome just about anything, but it can't right now. If that were true, infant mortality rates would be about zero. They are not. And let us not forget that a very large part of the world's population doesn't live in world similar to your typical /. poster where medical care is top notch.

Second of all, survival without reproduction doesn't mean much. If people with faulty livers end up on average reproducing less (something like that could easily effect attractiveness due to potential limitation of the person even if they do survive) then we're still in the same process more or less as if they weren't surviving.

Third, you're ignoring mutations. That's evolution, which you say will occur no further. If you are born with a mutation and you pass it on, well, what do you want to call it now since you say evolution isn't occuring anymore? Me, I'll stick to just calling that evolution.

Re:The politics of evolution have failed. (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535290)

You say science can overcome just about anything, but it can't right now. If that were true, infant mortality rates would be about zero. They are not. And let us not forget that a very large part of the world's population doesn't live in world similar to your typical /. poster where medical care is top notch.

This is an economic problem, not a scientific one. Witness, for example, the terrible case of the late Terry Shively, where she was kept alive through artifical means. As long as the money kept comming in, they could keep her alive. I'm not arguing the morality of the situation, but let's say the insurance comapany decided that she was no longer technically alive, and cut off the checks. How fast would the feed tube be removed by the doctors? Or, a less heartless example: What if Terry lived in Haiti and had no insurance?

Re:The politics of evolution have failed. (2, Informative)

quiffhanger (639793) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535251)

Exactly: many people seem to forget that the key concept behind evolution is "survival of the fittest". Just because we require dexterious thumbs for playing our playstations doesn't mean our offspring will magically be born with superior thumbs unless, of course, in some scary extension of multiplayer games our survival did really depend upon our playstation skills :)

However, IMHO evolution is still occuring - the causes have simply changed. People who fail to reproduce nowadays are the ones who fail to find a mate - which in today's society is intrinsically linked to your social skills...

In which case - I have some serious doubts about the future of the slashdot crowd ;)

bigger thumbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535167)

maybe bigger thumbs to help kids send sms to each other.. Consider pressing a door bell.. now days instead of a finger most use the thumb by habbit.

This presents a dilemma... (1)

aendeuryu (844048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535168)

When we evolve, will we be bringing these guys [creationism.org] with us?

Very Interesting (1)

ilyanep (823855) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535169)

I thought H.G. Wells copyrighted The Time Machine.

Re:Very Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535270)

Yes but in most sane countries, copyright has run out on it now.

No evolutionary drive (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535176)

Humans have been most counter-productive when it comes to evolutionary improvement.

The short and simple of evolutionary drive is: "the good changes survive and the bad ones die."

Well, with all of our disease curing, deformation correction (not to mention aesthetic surgery), and public welfare the most unworthy humans are reproducing at enormous rates. To further worsen matters, the most worthy humans are, for personal reasons, not reproducing or having only one child furhter decreasing the population of the 'successful.' We're actually backsliding quite a bit.

And as has been pointed out, any improvements in humans are likely to be artificial and if any actual changes in humans arrise, it will be in how suitably humans will accept these additions. (That would be to say, their bodies will be less likely to reject artificial implants, foreign tissue, etc.) That's quite a gruesome picture being painted of our future... some Frankenstein-ish collection of beings with plugs and wires hanging out everywhere. "What? you use KEYBOARDS and MICE? How 21st Century of you!"

But back to the subject, we have all but overcome the forces of evolutionary drive. The only exception to that might be in the area of disease where if some new super-potent plague emerged killing all but the most immune, we might see another tiny step... maybe...

Re:No evolutionary drive (4, Funny)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535234)

plugs and wires is the kind of crap you see in movies. we already have good wireless tech so why would we use horrible wires?

at the very most, the sign of an "enhanced" human would be an apple-shaped white LED just under the skin that pulsates when you're asleep.

Re:No evolutionary drive (2, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535347)

we already have good wireless tech so why would we use horrible wires?

Bandwidth.

Every coaxial cable has huge swathes of bandwidth all to itself in its own little independent world. Fiber has even more, or at least so I assume from how it is used.

The wireless world, no matter how clever you get and no matter what existing uses you shut down, will always have less bandwidth.

Wireless has its uses but for fundamental reasons, barring some really odd and completely unexpected scientific advance, there will alway be wires, or at least fibers, in the world.

Immune system (1)

TerranFury (726743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535177)

Evolution happens when there are "evolutionary pressures" - things that make some individuals die, and others live to reproduce. Right now, the biggest killers - and so the greatest pressures - are diseases. Hopefully we will evolve more immunity to them. That said, microbes tend to evolve faster than we do.

Changes to humans... (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535178)

...from a conscious decision to make modifications are hardly 'evolution', certainly not evolution by natural selection. This article is pretty bogus, even if it makes correct predictions. You might as well say that anything that happens in the future is a product of evolution.

I remember discusing this with my bioligy lecturer (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535180)

Few years back , the common consensus was that the next step in human eveloution would most likely be a second thumb on each hand for better manipulation of object. We had a long debate about what may follow , a few people suspected increased brain capacity as highly likely and a continuation in the trend for people to be slightly taller and have less hair.
We decided not to count in any form of gene manipulation though , though it is highly likely that within the next hundred or so years it will likely become commenplace for people to be geneticaly enhanced from birth.
So that could heavily alter our natural eveloution , guess we will just have to wait and see and hope we dont suffer a mass extinction along the way .Otherwise the apes will be studying us and charlston heaston will have to take ages to realise he landed on earth in the distant future again

Re:I remember discusing this with my bioligy lectu (1)

kote-men-do (881870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535195)

Sorry try again. Having a second thumb will not boost your survival chances today.

Re:I remember discusing this with my bioligy lectu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535264)

In the violent post apocolyptic world we face there will be one thing to hold you atop from the mases in the deadly game devised to distrubute food to the worthy to secure our survival , and we call that game Thumb war , Those with duel dual thunbs will have a two to one advantage and be able to easily best the strongest of oponents with their might oposable...
more seriously though..
The increased ability to manipulate objects will give people gains in several areas.

Further evolution will occur (1)

xplenumx (703804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535188)

The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups.

From the article:
Evolution is still at work. But instead of diverging, our gene pool has been converging for tens of thousands of years

In other words, as long as there are selective pressures there will be 'evolution'. However, as you mentioned, don't expect any new 'human species' in the next million years or so unless a group of us become truly isolated and face unique selective pressures. Subtle, but important.

'd take a diaspora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535197)

read: greg egan - disapora

God pissed at us? (2, Funny)

Spackler (223562) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535202)

There should be a warning sticker on slashdot stating that evolution is only a theory. You people with your scientific methods, can you not see that there is a perfectly good explanation to it all? What makes you think you have evolved enough to question it? (well, I didn't mean evolved, I mean what makes you think God has granted you enough of a sense of, well not granted, miricaled, yeah, just thought it into being).

Oh, and I will pray for your souls to have a sense of humor.

God is great, God is good, let us thank HIM for our food. (see, you would not even have food if God had not willed it out of the ground because photosynthesis does not exist either, and don't even get me started about the lie of everything not revolving around the earth and that Galileo punk. Just because the church apologized didn't mean the church wasn't right because it can't be wrong because the pope is infallible because if he wasn't, my whole religion would be based on lies, so no way, I now can say that I have conclusivly proved that evolution does not exist because the church told me so.)

Evolution? No.

Re:God pissed at us? (2, Funny)

Mother Sha Boo Boo (883424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535217)

Someone help me here: this is Funny or Troll?

Re:God pissed at us? (1)

palfrey (198640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535253)

Either all of the above, or maybe just Yet Another Moron. It's hard to tell.

Re:God pissed at us? (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535255)

Ghey.

Humans vs Amerikans (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535206)

Humans vs Amerikans will possibly be the first splitt....guess it already is :(

Society, the bane of evolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535210)

Evolution works fine until society appears, then it seems to go backwards, as the more inteligent, more dynamic outgoing people who make our world tick decide not to have kids, and those on welfare have 15 or more :)

"evil-lution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535214)

You'll get all the evolution you deserve when the man-Jesus returns to judge your heathen asses.

Warp 10 (1)

Guidlib (814472) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535216)

I thought we'd turn into large walking fish as was demonstrated in Voyager when Paris achieved warp 10...

Memetic evolution (2, Insightful)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535222)

We might not have that much genetic evolution ahead, but what about a memetic one?

Technology seems to have advanced quite a bit in the last century, and i don't see that stopping soon unless we go dark ages when the oil runs out.

I don't think that coming up with new ideas is fundamentally different from growing a new limb, and with those ideas we could probably change ourselves faster than genetic evolution would.

We haven't stopped evolving. (2, Insightful)

Isldeur (125133) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535231)

The gist of it is that no further evolution will occur unless humans can be separated into isolated groups."

You know, back when I was a med student, I asked this doctor I worked with if he agreed that humans - due to their ability to change the world around them so much - had stopped evolving. He said something a bit insightful to that - that we were actually evolving much faster than we ever had before not less. And that makes sense. We don't need to take eons to evolve new bodily ways of fighting infection - we have antibiotics now and can fight infection intelligently. The list goes on and on.

Re:We haven't stopped evolving. (1)

SA Stevens (862201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535303)

Actually, what were doing with antibiotics is evolving the infection. Rather unintelligently.

Thanks to 'medical progress' at the end of a dollar bill, to a large degree.

Racial Amalgamation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535240)

This entire debate is utterly pointless I can tell you with 100% certainty what it going to happen.

1. "Races" will interbreed as technology provides transportation and completely eliminates seperation. Nationalism may slow the process a little but in the end humanity will look basicly Eurasian. Couple of centuries tops unless all our tech suddenly is taken away in some Neo-Apolocoliptic stastical impossibility. Wake up thats whats going to happen and anyone that says otherwise is deluding themselves with racial purity crap or very very stupid.

2. Genetic engineering will alter the human form most likely in small ways or refinements but it will change us most likely in fashions we can't yet comprehend and again anyone that deludes themselves into claiming otherwise is clutching at straws or pushing hard for a PHD without a real idea to back them as there isn't yet enough technology to theorise without a bucketload of unfounded assumptions based on data that is pre-GenEn tech.

Whats the point? (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535243)

We are any way going to nuke each other in 20-25 yrs - like this [albinoblacksheep.com]

No. Evolution *IS* occurring right now. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535248)

Simply look at the types of people who are having lots of children and the types of people who are not having children. Then draw your own conclusions on the future direction of the species (and it isn't necessarily smarter/stronger).

We control our own development (4, Interesting)

Zergwyn (514693) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535250)

Evolution acts on population gene pools when some factor favors the survival of specific genes. However, modern humans depend on genetics to a far smaller extent then any other species; rather, we depend on our intelligence. We don't evolve thicker fur or blubber to live in colder environments, we alter our environment (shelter) or create artificial means to warm ourselves. Synthetic transportation replaces wings or faster legs. We use medicine to cure ourselves of disease and accidents. It therefore seems both likely and acceptable that in the future, humans will choose to alter themselves at a physical, internal level. This seems to be a logical progression from our current external prosthetics, like cars. I suspect this will take the form of one or more of the following:
  1. Genetic engineering: Gene therapy is currently a very promising field of study, and research on vectors is finally yielding some extremely promising results, both for viral (see some of the fourth generation or higher lentiviral systems) and non-viral (liposomes etc). As gene therapy becomes common, the same techniques can be applied to not just fix genes, but add or alter existing ones to give desirable attributes (better vision, etc).
  2. Brain-computer interfaces: Once again, most current research takes place with the aim to provide superior prosthetics to people who have suffered from accidents. This is my personal area of interest. In principle, all the input and output going into the brain should be able to be intercepted and controlled. By doing that, a person could be transplanted into any artificial body desired. I feel that at the current pace of development, this will be a relatively (there is always risk with surgery) safe and well understood procedure within 20-30 years, assuming research isn't outlawed or anything like that.
  3. Medical nanotechnology: Very speculative, I don't think anyone knows for sure whether is can actually be done or not. I'm listing it because it would be a different way to augment the human body from the previous two.

All of these technologies may work together, of course. It may be that human genetic engineering would help a person be more compatible with synthetic augmentations, for example. I also believe these are all good things. The core of what makes us us is our minds, and it seems tragic that so many people are restricted by the box their brain must travel in. I hope to be able to help make it so that losing limbs and getting paralyzed are simply no longer problems that need to be worried about beyond some inconvenience. I think that transferring to artificial bodies, or at least advanced gene therapy, will be important for future efforts to colonize space. It appears that in many ways, the primary threat is luddites shutting the research down. Fortunately, so far most of this has passed under their radar, so I am hopeful that will continue to be the case until actual products are ready to go. At that point, it will be too late to stop it. It is an exciting time to be alive though, and I encourage everyone to go and do some research on the subject, especially if you have access to a college or corporate net that has subscriptions to primary research engines, like ScienceDirect or JStor. Also, everyone can look at becoming a member of the AAAS, which will get you online access to Science.


Some links:

University of California Neuroelectric Research Group [berkeley.edu] . Some interesting information, with PDFs available, on BCI.

Gene Delivery Systems [ucla.edu] . A free quick intro (from a lecture/course) on some of the different vector systems being studied for gene therapy, and desirable characteristics.

Those of you with access to journals can go read a very interesting study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 16(6):1022-1035. "Optimizing a Linear Algorithm for Real-Time Robotic Control using Chronic Cortical Ensemble Recordings in Monkeys," by Wessberg and Nicolelis.

I can see a clear split already... (1, Flamebait)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535257)


Sitting here in a hotel in North America I've just watched a series of diatribes by the religious right, and I swear that their mouths are bigger than the rest of us.

Re:I can see a clear split already... (1)

SA Stevens (862201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535315)

Hell, it's Sunday morning. You should have changed the channel from the religious programs to the 'public affairs' shows. You could have watched Elanor Clit and a whole bunch of her ilk flap her big wide yaw around. Maybe even Jesse Jackson or Ted Kennedy would have been on.

Big mouths, indeed.

Wrong on just about all counts (5, Insightful)

localroger (258128) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535263)

If you want to know where evolution is taking homo sapiens, get thee to a barnyard.

Evolution is driven by selection pressure. Selection occurs because some individuals die or otherwise fail to breed. Their heritable traits tend not to be found in the next generation.

So, ask yourself, what consistent selection pressures are acting on us now? Note that things that would have killed us in the past are now regularly taken care of by medical science. In just a couple of generations we have a significant subpopulation that can't breed at all without medical intervention. Some of these traits are heritable, such as difficulties in childbirth or needing IVF techniques to overcome fertility problems.

Other traits which seem to universally pop up in domestic animals are also showing up in humans. The modern urban environment is just as alien and stressful to us as modern farms are to the animals we keep there. So we are seeing hypersexuality, earlier and earlier puberty, obesity, and a lot of neurosis. THAT is the evolutionary future of the human race, and it's already well on its way.

The only way out of this situation is to start applying deliberate selective pressure. Given that this would essentially mean giving up the right of individuals to reproduce at will, I don't see it happening any time soon. Plus, I would imagine that a lot of effort would be thrown at hot-button traits like homosexuality or intelligence which probably aren't even heritable. (I know there are a lot of people who say otherwise; there are good reasons for doubting them, starting with their very eagerness.)

The world's population is already effectively split into two major groups, those who can afford radical medical intervention and those who can't. For another idea on how that might work out check out H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. Some things are so basic that they're easier to call before you're well into the trend.

Bt what's so funny is that it's the serendipitous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535266)

sucker punch that's gonna blind side us with some big time evolvin.

All that wrangling over luddite driven ethics isn't even gonna be a footnote in the future history of human evolvin.

But listen up a minute brothers and sisters...I'll tell you exactly how it's gonna go down.

We're gonna become out machines and not even know it until it's grabbing for a candy bar at the grocery store and squashes us like a bug when we say no.

AI is a load of crap. Look at any animal. It pops out of the egg or whatever and the first thing it does is start waving it's eyes and appendages about. You don't remember this for one simple reason. All this shit happened before you were you!

It's well known that electromechanical interfaces to the brain quickly integrate into the realm of self awareness. They cease to be something else and instead become part of the brains 'self'.

As the sophistication of human attachments grows to encompass self organizing memory, the same things gonna happen to the mind and the machine's memory, organization, and experience will usurp more and more of 'self' to the point of no distinction and eventually, when the original host human organic machine wears out, the artificial, be it electromechanical-biological-whatever stuff it is, will have 'inherited' the mond and I say soul of said former birthed/hatched/cloned/... human or animal.

"Momma, why is that dolphin laughing at me, doesn't she know I'm gonna eat her?"

Why .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535292)

is this world OBSESSED with meaningless labels?
LABELS LABELS LABELS?

I don't get it .. it's all a bunch of meaningless

SHITE ..
Why pay money for a "LABEL"

I hate labels with a god damned fucking passion.

Evolution? Rather the opposite... (4, Insightful)

loony (37622) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535301)

I'll probably get flamed for this but I have to say it anyway...

Why does anyone still expect evolution in our society? With the social system and the way our economy works there is no reason for evolution anymore. If you take a pack of lions... The top is the strongest animal, then the second tier is the ones that are almost as strong and so on. Now I look at where I work - the richest and most powerful guy has his job cause he started almost at the top and had the right backing... The next level down are all his friends - most of them completly incompetent idiots. Evolution? No thanks!

Now the other side - and that's the really scary one - since when do we weed out bad genes? Today most people die a natural death, no matter if they were stupid, disabled or had any other issues. In the past, those would have been the first to get killed by lack of food, deciese or wild animals. That kept the gene pool cleaner. Today, they have kids just like everyone else - and that has severe negative impact on the human race.

I'm not saying that there is any ethical way of changing that or that it even should be changed, but if the topic of evolution comes up, most people just silently ignore these two facts most of the time...

Peter.

Re:Evolution? Rather the opposite... (1)

darklingchild (726827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535325)

The reason is quite simple. Humans aspire to be more than they are. It is the reason we develop new technologies, and spend our time diving into research endeavors. We want to be more, and the easiest way is to simply evolve. It takes no effort, as opposed to active self-improvement. It's more of the give-me-a-pill-to-be-better mentality.

Darwinian vs. Lamarckian evolution (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535306)

Darwinian evolution (in which the genes affect reproductive success) will have a decreasing role in future. The ability to repair congenital defects, correct metabolic disorders, and cure life-threatening conditions means that natural selection does not occur with the same intensity as in the past. More people survive and reproduce would not of in the past.

The one area where Darwinian evolution may play a role is in how people respond to pharmaceuticals. Not all drugs work on all people -- some people cannot tolerate certain drugs and other people metabolize a medication so quickly that it is ineffective. These people will find themselves part of the orphan disease population -- populations that are too small to be worth the effort to develop drugs for. In time, them may succumb more frequently to medical problems and become less prevalent in the population.

What we will see is more evolution of memes (rather than genes). Memetic evolution is Lamarckian, not Darwinian. Whereas genes are markedly stable (the copy error rate is very low), memes are more malleable and tend to acquire new characteristics that are then passed on.

Thus, I would argue that Lamarckian evolution will play a bigger role in the future than Darwinian evolution. The characteristics that people (and society) acquire will be passed on to the next generation. The new technologies, new terminologies, new ideas, and new ways of living will define humanity's future and a person's life far more than does the genetic sequence of a person's DNA.

Factors driving change in humans (1)

CdXiminez (807199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535319)

New species arise under two possible conditions:
1. isolation and the consequent genetic drift
2. changed environmental circumstances

Point 1 is strongly reduced for humans in the last century. However, artificial isolation by social circumstances is possible. I think of economic divisions or cultural non-mixing dogmas.
Point 2 is also weak for humans, the success of the species is mostly because of its ability to adapt to new environments _without_ needing to change much genetically, making spreading much faster.

Prediction is, in my opinion, near impossible:
On the one hand, what makes humans succesfull is adapting quickly without genetically changing, by copying information not through genes, but by written text. So there's no real need to change genetically anymore.
On the other hand, we are finding out ways to change ourselves genetically into something we perceive to be more desirable. This will always be subject to the short-lived whim of fashion, but may leave us with an even greater genetic diversity than we already have.

Cloning is of no use whatsoever, since it is a move to standstill in stead of change in a desired direction.

Divergent evolution in other species (1)

lemaymd (801076) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535323)

Here is an interesting case of divergent evolution when one species isolated itself from another by taking to the skies: http://informationcentre.tripod.com/carevolution.h tml [tripod.com]

Heard it all before... (2)

ericdfields (638772) | more than 9 years ago | (#12535330)

We're pretty much done as far as evolution goes. What prompts the evolutionary process? A need to adapt to an environment, propegate the species, etc.

Well, I think we're good enough at holding our own these days. Not only do we adapt to our environment, we change it (i like to say 'terraform' but some people have a hard time accepting NYC as proof...). 6+ billion of us folks seems to be a bit more than our planet can handle anyway, so no need for mother nature to worry about people dying off any time soon.

I am, however, looking forward to the Foglet stage of my own personal evolution

The Speed of Light will be Changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535346)

From the Article, Page 6, Fourth Paragraph: Currently, the closest star system thought to have a planet is Epsilon Eridani, 10.5 light-years away. Even if spaceships could travel at 1 percent the speed of light -- an incredible 6.7 million mph -- it would take more than a millennium to get there.

That is incredible! Did you know that 1% of 186,000 miles per hour is 6.7 million mph? I can't figure out how he could have arrived at that over-inflated number. I mean, 186,000 divided by 0.01 still, gives you 18 million miles per hour... it has got to be a mindless calculating error, or is it?!

The rest of the article... usual news-tainment presentation of theories that may or may not be geekier than the other. I would rather that the news provide us with information of what is actually going on, rather than speculative fiction based on the facts that people are able to take stereoids or adapt to the Arctic regions through buildings and space-heaters.

3 breasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12535350)

Most men like big breasts, as soon as some freaks end up with 3, their genes will be like gold, breasty gold.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...