In the July 2012 article, “10 of the Weirdest Futurist Scenarios for the Evolution of Humanity”, George Dvorsky has a little pseudo-scientific fun with projecting out scenarios of future human evolution. In the article he takes a squint-eyed view of 10 possible futurist outcomes of human evolution.
First, he thinks that voluntary devolution would be a nice idea. That it would be our great service to the rest of the animal kingdom to use our technological advances to take us backwards instead of forwards. The intent would be to return to pre-civilization and ultimately back to the jungle. That way, he contends, we will not be harmful to ourselves, our planet or other animals and would also make good prey for lions and their like.
Dvorsky doesn’t stop there; he goes on to provide another alternative- voluntary extinction! This also borrows from the idea that humans are the worst thing to happen to mother earth, and would be a nice idea- as says the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEM), if we just stop breeding and eventually die out. The result would be that every other creature would then be able to live and die on their own terms without being ‘encouraged’ by us!
Then there’s the eco-human possibility. Here, most philosophers have their doubts about our ability to deal with climate change and more ecological disasters. What they are confident we can do however is to pharmacologically make ourselves dislike meat somehow (to increase the mortality rates of chicken, cows, pork and the rest), reduce our ecological footprints by reducing our physical selves, use cat-eyes technology to lessen our need for lighting and more. By this method, we would be preserving our resources like light and space.
He also thinks we could become transgenic humans, using transgenic technology to inter-mingle with the rest of the animals. Using this, we could borrow a dog’s high end sense of smell and hearing, cat eyes, eagles’ vision, and other useful traits to put all of them into ourselves. As transhumans, we could be quite something. Imagine having hawk vision, cat eyes, lizard scales and shark teeth while retaining your awesome thinking- quite the sight!
The fifth scenario borrows from a fundamental belief about evolution- that unused parts of anything eventually wither away. Considering that humans lately use mostly their brains and hands to eat, Dvorsky sees a time when all humans will be just some huge brains walking around on hands and strictly following this principle, the guy has a point; we no longer walk- we just drive, so our legs will eventually disappear. There are suggestions we will soon stop eating, so our stomachs will wither away. We might also stop breathing if upcoming lung technologies work out, so basically we will just need our brains. It is hard to suppress a good laugh on this imagination.
Dvorsky also looks at the likely scenario where there will be a collective superorganism (like the bees and ants have), where the state controls the action- and more frighteningly- the thoughts of the populace. It will use cyber-brain hacking and nanobots to do this. Some find this ‘global brain’ idea fascinating but Dvorsky naturally asks how much of an individual would remain in such a sea of multiple conscious thoughts competing against one another! Might we be digging ourselves into some big hole? I don’t know.
Advanced cybernetic and reproductive technologies will make humans postgendered. As males and females, we are basically biologically bound binary species but should we somehow manage to become cyborgs- as is expected, we would then have the privilege of having exosomatic wombs and choose sexual characteristics that please us instead or even discard the whole gender thing and just be asexual or just invent some fancy new genders that are easier to alter at a whim. At this point, we wouldn’t be your ordinary biological organisms.
Hot on the heels of this gender selection thing, we would then give rise to ‘designer babies’! You got that right. The trick here would be to select the finest traits we would like our kids to have and if they later don’t like those traits, even more advanced technology would allow them to remove or enhance those traits. The problem- or funny part (depending on which side of the fence you are on)- of this is- as Dvorsky observes- that people will reach weird levels in trying to outdo each other. Athletes for example have naturally developing characteristics. The future lads however will be made of sterner stuff. A basket baller for example thrives a lot on height, so he will likely enhance his height. His opponent will also then want to make himself much taller. The guy who started this will then seek to be still taller and so on. At the end of the day, how much height would they handle?
Consider swimmers- they thrive largely on limbs- won’t they then ultimately end up with limbs longer than swimming pools? Future Olympics will be quite interesting.
His ninth scenario takes us to space. Obviously, in our current form, we will suffocate out there so the good hearted scientists are tripping over themselves to get this fixed. Dvorsky cites Robert Freitas’ plan to eliminate the need for breathing and breathable air by somehow rendering human lungs unnecessary while Ray Kurzweil has advised that in future, nanobots will power our cells even better than food would. Craig Venter on his part has highlighted the need for an inner ear that will keep us safe from motion sickness. He has also called for development of DNA repair where radiation is likely and genes for bone regeneration. Other scientists have opted to suggest that we would be better off as some huge octopus wannabes able to slither effortlessly in this environment of zero gravity. Hairlessness, slower turn-over of skin, smaller stature and higher energy utilization will also be necessary. As soon as we can develop all these, then we can pack our bags and head out into space.
George Dvorsky’s tenth weird scenario for evolution isn’t necessarily the lousiest. Actually, it is one of the very highlights of future humans. The idea of uploading human consciousness right into a supercomputer.
This might seem fancy, but scientists are actually giving timelines about when it will be achieved- supposedly sooner than we might think. That’s not the weird part. The weird part is that using this uploading technology, uploaded minds will likely want to outdo one another in a competitive economy by making unlimited copies of themselves.
Another weird part would be that the upload could adjust its clock speed to even such low levels that the upload can literally watch mountains rise and fall.
The uploads could also switch their robot bodies effortlessly and alter the existing parameters of their environments generated by computers. The result; the very nature of subjective and physiological awareness could change.
Visit George’s original article here.