Science!: Hammerheads, Fly Sex and Evolution

Lauren Admire | 30 Nov 2009 21:00

Further, what with all the advances in genetics and artificial insemination, parents now have more control over their child's genetics than ever before. From discovering which genes are linked to which traits, to literally choosing the exact sperm and egg produce a child, humans are on the path to being able to "create" the exact kind of child they want, creating a new kind of "natural" selection.

According to Miller, "You will probably see a rise in average physical attractiveness and health. You will probably get selection for physical traits that tend to be attractive in both males and females - things like height, muscularity, energy levels."

"Regular" natural selection will still have a role, as Miller believes that the pool of viruses and bacteria is going to increase, resulting in more epidemics. These epidemics will select for those with stronger immune systems.

The third prediction states that transhumanism will allow humans to take control of their own evolution. Darwinian evolution happens very slowly, but the future is in the quick forms of evolution - genetic enhancements, cloning, nanotechnology, and so forth. It's essentially humans being in control of their own evolution - there will always be the random, slow-paced evolution available, but transhumanists believe that the future is in transcending those biological limitations.

Transhumanism suggests many possibilities, such as uploading one's mind into a computer, then downloading it into anything- robot, toaster, penguin. Once this is a possibility, "evolutionary selection could occur in a population of uploads of artificial intelligence just as much as it could in a population of biological organisms," says Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute. "In fact, it might operate much faster there, because artificial intellects could reproduce much faster."

The last prediction claims that a new era of evolution lies in the stars, and beyond. Essentially, a small, isolated group of humans that headed to a new habitable planet could jump-start a new version of Darwinian evolution, with a completely new set of environmental and biological factors. "If we had spacefaring people who went on one-way voyages to distant stars, that might be enough to trigger speciation," explains John Hawks, an anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, "but, if you think about it, a small group of people went on a one-way voyage to [The Americas] 14,000 years ago, and then when new people [Europeans] showed up 500 years ago, they were still the same species."

Are we still evolving? Are new forms of evolution possible?

National Geographic


Lauren Admire is de-evolving.

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