Sunday, October 11, 2009

Will Humanity Evolve into Artificial Life?

As humanity continues down the road of evolution, what is next for our race? For thousands of years, man has lived at sort of a stable level of development, with little about his condition truly changing. Life in an early Iron Age society not being a whole lot far removed from some of the later versions of civilisation. At one point, not very long ago, it was possible for a man to read ALL the written knowledge ever transcribed by man. With the introduction of Industrialism, this all changed.

Within a hundred years, we had many wonderous inventions and a wealth of knowledge available. The knowledge is self generating. When we discover or develop one thing, it leads to advancement in many other areas as well. It has fast reached a point where it is truly impossible for the human mind to comprehend all of the knowledge which has been acquired as a whole. There is just far too much. Man has reached a point where he needs to evolve to the next level just to keep pace.

Some scientists, like Stephen Hawking, say that genetics and DNA science is the key. They say that we should be seriously looking at stimulating the next step in evolution, although at this point, we can remain in control of the process through our technological development. Whether this next step will be totally genetic and biological, or some type of electromechanical enhancement remains to be seen.

One can envision a world population with network enhancements to allow for direct reception of things like the Internet, so as to maintain and enhance our mind through distributed knowledge. Once a process like this begins, biological enhancements for other percieved deficiencies will not be far behind. Maybe we will see development of things like articially enhanced legs for athletes, and enhanced vision for pilots, etc. At what point will it end?

The classic Cyberpunk anime, Ghost in the Shell, took on this very topic. In this story, the main character was a female secret agent with a cybernetically enhanced body. The only truly human part remaining, was the brain itself. In a case like this, is the organism still really a human?

The world is changing, and the conditions affecting our evolution are, in fact, evolving themselves. What will become of humanity in 500 years is anybody's guess.

See what Stephen Hawking has to say about it on the Daily Galaxy.

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