This conversation is closed.

Has technology accelerated human evolution?

my question is based on my observations of events that have happened in my own lifetime,we went from conventional warfare to atomic bombs ,we went from party line telephones to blue tooth, we went from the encyclopedia to ipads,we went from maps to gps,we went from libraries to kindle,we went from Sunday dinner to Mc Donalds,we went from radio to 50"flat screen 3d television,skype,electric cars,and we put a man on the moon.All of this in one life time.what use to take millions of years to happen,. is now happening in generations.I watch little kids walking towards doors they dont stop because they know its going to open,young children using computers to write and draw.I guess my question is,am I right in thinking that human evolution is accelerating.

  • Jul 23 2012: I'm a elementary teacher and a physics buff as it relates to both the big and small. Feedback is the mechanism that perpetuates the development of all systems from the atomic level to the cosmological level. Evolution is the result of genetic feedback through the turning on and off of genes through the generations in an adaptive cycle related to the
    epi-genome. The epi-genome is the interface of the environment with our already inherited genome and has been shown to manifest bi-generationally. The more change a system experiences the more feedback gets produced and the faster that system, or more robustly, that system will "evolve". Like the ripples created by many pebbles as opposed to one, so to the pool of human evolution becomes more wavy. Not only does more input yield more change but also like the ripples coalescing forming troughs and peaks inputted information feeds back off each other thereby further increasing system changes. I am witness to human evolution every day in my classroom as an effect of technology. The learning process is accelerating due to the instant feedback students experience and creativity and social collaboration afforded by new technologies. I imagine if it were studied the curve of learning acceleration would appear much as the one depicting Mr. Ray Kerzwiel's exponential singularity eventualities. Maybe behind a little since many teachers are still so slow to get with the times. It drives me nuts. Feedback is the chariot of the wheel of time and it is now a sports car.
  • Steve C

    • +2
    Jul 24 2012: Objects do tend to accelerate prior to impact!
  • thumb

    Gord G

    • +2
    Jul 22 2012: That's impossible. Evolution doesn't have a predetermined speed. Your question is an uncomfortable mix of Darwinism and metaphysics. :-)
  • thumb
    Jul 20 2012: No i dont think so as long as there isnt an increase in smart people mating ... then its no. The concept of evolution is simple: You make children your genes are partly given on to the next generation.

    I cant doubt that evolution is speeding up. But human evolution is something diffrent then technical evolution.
    Human evolution might currently lead to an increase in thrust because were getting more and more dependant on devices and concepts which we ourselves dont understand.

    Human evolution is being accelerated by 2 things: Number of children per person AND amount of genetic mutations (which seems to be on the rise after fukushima and the like).

    I cant argue against an increase in economical and technological evolution ... where the first frightens me a little.
    • Jul 21 2012: I see it a little different Max,the fact is that people are smarter today,not that intelligence has increased,knowledge has increased,some one in one of the replies stated that I.Q tests have had to be elevated from the first ones that were used,the fact is that I,Q tests are used to measure knowledge as well as intellect,as far as the size of the family,the family use to consist of an average of six members at the turn of the century today it is four members,not only that,the female because she is only bearing two children on average and is not worn down as badly as the women who are bearing twice as many,will nurture the fetus much better.As to mutations to our genetic make-up Fukushima is too soon to have an impact on us yet,what should be bothersome are the atomic and hydrogen bombs that were used and tested over sixty years ago,they were very dirty bombs and their effect may still be waiting for us down the road
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2012: Well ofcourse IQ can be increased by evolution. However IQ is more or less an ability we can "learn" the more we get into contact with complexity the more need we have to disentangle this complexity inorder to get to understandable results.
        As the world we live in changes ofcourse the requirements to survive and reproduce changes thus yes
        an increased iq is definately helpfull and thus its what evolution will lead to.

        However i wouldnt say that evolution speeds up by anymeans ... it just changes priorities over and over again, and currently someone had the "stupid" idea to measure it in IQ.

        Our brain is capable of learning a LOT if its used for this specific task, with all the technologie around it is required to be able to abstract and we learn it from beginning on + we have the technology to access knowledge in the blink of an eye which i think will lead to people having less and less "static memory" and more and more "understanding memory" (excuse my poor word inventions).

        So theres also drawbacks and id say evolution doesnt speed up :P

        ps.: I said fukushima "and the like" those tests were somewhat included even tho i didnt think of them specifically.

        Have a nice day :o) I appreciate those discussions.
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2012: Can we call it development rather than evolution because with regard to biological mechanisms evolution has a specific meaning which I don't think you are talking about?
    Cognitive development is certainly accelerated by exposure to much more mental stimulation from many more sources. I would suggest the trade off is a general loss of gross-motor skills. We may well all end up highly intelligent but overweight un unco-ordinated. It will make sport funny though!
  • Jul 18 2012: Human evolution has stopped since the moment we used tools(technology) outside of our own physical capabilities to hunt. This isn't a bad thing, it's just that there's only so much that natural selection is able to do in a given timeframe, but if technology can overcome that speed, then natural selection stops.

    Evolution is defined by changing necessary bodily functions to adapt to the surrounding environments. This is how from single atoms, we have evolved into the complex, multicellular organisms that we are today. The moment that we fashioned rocks into tools of hunting was when humans stopped being influenced by natural selection, stopped evolving, but in turn came up with something even greater, technology.

    Technology and tools are technically one and the same. An arrowhead is technology, so is pencil and paper. A computer is a much more advanced form of technology, but could not have been conceived without previous advancements in technology, including but not limited to such things as semiconductors, electricity, and even plastic.

    Humans are not evolving. They have stopped evolving since the first homo sapien used a sharpened rock to do what his own physical body limited him from doing. Technology is continuously improving, and at the same rate the knowledge available to humans is growing. If humans were to evolve, if it got cold in the winter, we'd start growing fur, and lose it in the summer. That's not how humans work, instead, we use technology, such as a wool sweater or jacket to stay warm in the winter, and loose clothes in the summer. That is technology, and that is human progress.
    • Jul 19 2012: i agree with you , physically we have not changed ,in fact we are not half the person we used to be, we have lost the prowess,the strong sense for self preservation,even our need to procreate,but i think in the long run the trade off is working.
    • thumb
      Jul 20 2012: It didnt stop it just got overshadowed.
      • Jul 20 2012: What proof is there that it hasn't stopped? How has natural selection influenced humans once we discovered medicine and technology?
        • Jul 23 2012: I'm curious as to what makes some people think that evolution has stopped, or that it can stop? Why would evolution stop? Our environment doesn't stop changing, whether naturally or by our own innovations in technology. Evolution takes a very very long time. Longer than a few generations. Were humans 1000 years ago biologically different from us? The "evolution" of technology is not evolution of the species.
  • Jul 25 2012: Who says that technological advancement is not a natural extension of evolution. I believe it's possible that we are one iteration of a repeating "natural" evolutionary process. In fact, and physics backs me up on this, we may be a reflection or simulation of a singularity actualized society seeking experience through separateness in an ancestry program. It might not be pretty but that does not make it unnatural.
  • Jul 24 2012: Our perceptions of "good" and "bad" are far too simple and limited to define evolution as one or the other. The point is that the organism is changing to adapt. The problem in the question is the relationship between the cause and effect. Is technology inspiring evolution, or is it merely the consequence of the evolving brain? Most likely we're seeing a combination of both, a select group within the species is evolving at a more exponential rate and the rest of the population is adapting to the new frameworks the first group is establishing. Technology itself is evolving at a more exponential rate because we are becoming more familiar with it, children are learning about it at younger ages and thus more apt to understand and manipulate it later in life. The perception of acceleration is also contextually based.
  • Jul 23 2012: Has technology accelerated human evolution?

    Have humans evolved yet? Evolution of different kinds, well, evolve, but what about the evolution of our spirit, humanity, understanding, compassion, love and most importantly, fear?

    No, we haven't and human evolution in that regard has not sped up either.
    I don't believe humans have evolved into civilization, or being civilized yet. So, technology certainly hasn't affected that at all, as far as I can see.

    The degradation of love, compassion, kindness, and our humanity, with greater understanding, has occurred.
    And our fear has grown almost exponentially. We are like vessels that are almost filled to the top and are ready to overflow and our fear is closer and closer to pouring out. It should, and we should direct it into action to change completely into loving, compassionate, kind, humane, understanding people who don't say they care but actually do it against all odds and in spite of our "self-importance".

    The only way to live that way, is to live that way. The only way to make the change is to make the change.
    Let go of all, old ideas, absolutely so that something better can fill the terrible fear-void and the day-mares most are used to. Becoming used to them is a sign of mental illness, not a sign of being well-adjusted.
  • Jul 22 2012: Humans can measure the evolution of everything except their own. In a moving car, the driver does not perceive the passenger moving, nor himself, whereas everything outside "seems" moving. We know that nothing is moving outside except the car we are in.
    Therefore, to correct the statement above, "Humans measure the evolution of everything based on their own."
    • Jul 22 2012: Agreed, but the question arises : how can we measure the ' process ' being the part of the process ? What is the frame of reference ? I think we can't measure anything, because WE ARE THE PROCESS of change, we can experience change ; 'evolution' is just a term we use to create a 'map' of reality,it is the point of judgement if you like, not measurement.
      I could be wrong here , of course :)
      • Jul 23 2012: It still has an empirical component, regardless of how abstract the reasons that cause the process are, correct? There are certainly metrics you could use to measure such a thing, and indeed it would be a complex equation if you wanted it to be fully descriptive enough to get an accurate measurement of how it is changing. That is all assuming a fixed time rate though. Given now that we are also increasing the amount we can accomplish in each day (in terms of all components of life: learning, social interaction, productivity, etc), measuring a change by a fixed time scale seems silly, so perhaps the issue of time makes your position that we can't really measure such a change correct. It's less than we can't measure it though, and more that such a measurement would have no meaningful significance, because 24 hours in 2050 will be nothing like 24 hours today, just as 24 hours in 1800 are nothing like 24 hours today.

        I think the specifics of evolutionary measurement are less important than coming to grips with the fact that the world is becoming a much more dynamic place to live, where major changes can happen in a short period of time. The idea of anything being constant and timeless is quickly disappearing. I like what you said below "the very process of becoming aware is speeding up". Being aware of what's going on around you, the changing and expanding framework of reality you're living in, and the influences you exert and are effected by seems to be an effective way to take control of your own personal evolution, and thus, your participation in the evolution of all life.
        • Jul 23 2012: Patrick ,

          I agree, the scale of observation creates the phenomenon. If ' evolution' means increasing in complexity, without judgemental sentiment ( it's neither good nor bad , higher/lower in development ), yes it seems to be obvious. Don't you think, that entropy and complexity is the same thing ? In attempt to organise entropy we make our life, relationships ... tools more and more complex, don't we ? It's a chicken egg issue. So, the 'Almighty' arrow of time is in place and conducts the show :) What is ' awareness' that is speeding up, alongside with everything else ? I guess , it's the desire to get out of the loop. How ? I don't know, but I've come up with simple ( not easy to implement, though ! ) solution: try to live in accordance with a golden rule. Old age wisdom : don't do to others... love your neighbour...dethrone yourself from the center of your world and you'll transcend yourself... Even the intent to practice it , brings clarity in thoughts and somehow reorganises life. Am I preaching ? : ) Sorry, I didn't mean to , i am not religious even, just a bit of experience .

          Thanks for responding !
  • Jul 22 2012: Technology is a product of human mind and can't be separated from our mind that creates it. They grow together, it's concrescence. What we see around, the problem we face is also a part of the picture and we don't like what we see, we call it crisis. But there is a bright side of it, we become conscious that the world we created is dis balanced, too top headed, we need to catch up with wisdom, spirituality. And technology is very helpful, it connects us, it connects information; the very process of becoming aware is speeding up.
  • thumb
    Jul 21 2012: IN MY VIEW: the question itself isn't clear in defining the relationship between evolution and technology so a clear answer doesn't seem possible. evolution refers to change that will exist generation after generation once it has happened. the action or inaction whatsoever which caused such evolution is not required once evolution has happened. technology in other hand is simply a tool which assists in performing certain action and their presence is required always. technology can not be eternal or ever existing they always change along with human consciousness. hence the possibility I see in regard to the question is; human have the capacity to evolve technology and technology to be a part of human experience.
  • thumb
    Jul 21 2012: Technology for Me, increased Dependence....We are So much Dependent to technology these days, that i wonder, how HUMANS will Evolve further........???
    • Jul 22 2012: Maybe we can, and in a way we should.
      I don't remember who said this : " We can't stop our development in a half way between apes and angels "
      It is not that romantic as it sounds it's actually the 'practical pattern' for survival. At least i see it this way :)
  • Jul 20 2012: YES! The fact that TED exists is proof of an acceleration of evolution. Smart people are finding each other all over the world. They are creating communities online and they are collaborating and even (gasp) procreating. A race of super geniuses will inhabit the earth in 50-60 years tops. I can't wait!
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2012: Doesn't it seem strange that we appeared out of Africa using bows & arrows about 1.8 million years ago & in the past century have gone from bows & arrows to intergalactic flight ? There are of course still plenty of folks in Africa with bows & arrows that are indisquinguishable from the rest of us. Seems to me that there is no biological reason why hunter gatherers should not build spacecraft, it's just a matter of learning from experience. So just what has evolution achieved in 1.8 million years ?

    • thumb
      Jul 19 2012: humans haven't been around for 1.8 million years. Homo erectus was probably alive 1.8 million years ago. Homo sapiens are roughly 150,000 years old. And it's easy to see why Africans can't build spacecrafts, have they got the industry? The money? The natural resources? No.
      What caused major change in humanity was the development of societies established in towns and cities.
      • thumb
        Jul 20 2012: You cant draw a line when one species turns into another ... heck id even be happy with 3500000000 years.
        • thumb
          Jul 20 2012: 3.5 billion years? How so. And that's one of the beauties of evolution that change is gradual unless punctuated equilibrium has any merit but I haven't read up on it.
          But we can draw lines from past species and current species etc etc, if we had every single fossil ever it would be impossible to categorize them all into groups.
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2012: In order to do a comparative analysis of the rate of human evolution it is necessary to observe those effects attributable to evolution. I am told those effects require eons of time to happen, which pretty much rules out scientific observation except by examination of fossil evidence. Millions of years from now our fossilized remains might show any change in the rate of human evolution.Also, there is the problem of establishing a baseline rate to use for comparison. For example, how many millions on years did it take for a eukaryote to evolve into a homo sapien? I think your question is unanswerable.
    • thumb
      Jul 21 2012: Oh evolution happens from one generation to another you could potentially test it at home within 3 - 4 years.

      Play "Evolution": Get a bunch of organisms which reproduce fast (labrats are quite common) then go ahead and think of some standards which your organisms should meet inorder for you to allow them to reproduce (for example: i want only those whose feet are larger then x.
      Then go ahead feed those who dont meet the requirements to your cat/snake/dog ... or just put them into a diffrent cage :P
      You should have a population of large feeted organisms(labrats) quite fast :o)

      -Alternatively look at the website of the first pigeon breeder you can google for some examples.
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2012: Controlled breeding for characteristics is not Evolution. A big-footed lab rat is genetically identical to a small- footed lab rat. No speciation means no Darwinian Evolution. Charles said you need millions of years for speciation to occur.
  • Jul 18 2012: It's actually true! The average humans of today are much smarter than the average humans of yesteryear. In rural communities in the earlier parts of the 1900's (when the IQ test was first invented) the average person scored so low, that today's terms, we would have considered them as borderline mentally retarded. Today, we see the same gains in developing countries which are starting to get access to modern education and technology. Here's an article explaining it if you want to take a reading break:

    In addition, at the beginning of his book, "The Shallows", Nicholas Carr provides a great narrative of scientific discoveries regarding the way our minds work with new objects. Basically, our brains treat new tools just as if they were functioning limbs. This means that a keyboard, a pencil, a hammer, etc., are all parts of our mind. Extending this argument you could say that as we get more technology and get access to new tools, our brains evolve.
    • Jul 19 2012: first i have to say that we already knew all of these tools that you used to demonstrate the theory of how our brains are able to grasp there use ,the newest of which was the keyboard,which in one form or another, has been around for over a hundred years the thing about our brain is that it does not take to change easily, when innovations come along they are just that innovations,something that improves something that already exists,something that sits in our comfort zone,i am sure that through history right up to the present there are tools,concepts,inventions,that could maybe make our lives better,physically and spiritually,but our brains work like a large ship at sea it takes a lot of steps to get it to change course,its not that we don't have the intelligence to grasp these things,it was one of us that figured it out after all, but in us we still carry"the fear factor" that thing that makes us fear the dark,and even though over time we have pushed it further to the back of our brain it still exist,think about name brands,yes we have come all long way,but some things still linger from our past that still give us comfort,i guess that's why some people call their home a cave
    • thumb
      Jul 19 2012: Do you think maybe the IQ thing is actually because IQ tests tend toward types of thinking that were of limited use in that setting. Maybe if the IQ test of the time included how quickly you can stack a cord of wood the results would have been higher.
      • Jul 20 2012: In a way, that's true. You didn't need to be smart back then. But how much of your brain is actually used when doing menial labor? At first glance, who would you guess was smarter? The farmer who didn't finish school, or a cosmopolitan writer?

        Even with comparing society in the 50's with today, you need to take on a lot more education even to be able to be successful in most cases.

        Today's technology allows us to articulate more of our thoughts and develop our brains, as well as expand our capabilities as humans.
        • thumb
          Jul 22 2012: You're born with a brain with a certain amount of potential. Today we develop that potential in ways that are tested in IQ tests. If you seperate twins at birth, one works as a farm hand and the other lives with an academic family, the farm hand twin will have a lower IQ but the other twin won't be able to ride a horse like a pro. Your brain adapts to be good at what ever you use it for.
      • Jul 24 2012: Peter,you used the example of twins being separated at birth ,one to rural life the other to a life of access to limitless knowledge,but the fact is if they are identical in every way and nurtured in the same way as to their physical and spiritual needs,why would their intelligence be different? And if one was handed everything on a silver platter, and the other had to work for everything he had,and they both found success in their choices, which is the better?
        • thumb
          Jul 24 2012: Their overall intelligence would be the same but IQ tests only test specific parts of your intellect. Have you ever done an IQ test with a section for kinesthetic intelligence?
  • Comment deleted

    • Jul 22 2012: Hi, Ed !
      Would you agree that humanity IS the process of experiencing truth and it is speeding up.

      What is the nature of arrow of time ? Maybe it is a composition of two opposites ? One, as thermodynamics states, leads to entropy, hence distraction, as you put it, another creates highly organised complexity and it is unfolding ! We have a lot of information at once, we can see the connections or even more: we can see that the picture is One as if everything tells the same story with different languages. For us time is speeding up, because it is crammed with information; it's almost palpable Would a buddhist monk say that time is speeding up ?.I guess, not . We can experience truth being mentally still or moving very very fast. Maybe it is the meeting place of East and West , two different paths to the truth.
      Maybe :)
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 23 2012: Hi, Ed !
          What is going on here on the page ? Time is speeding up and space starts to multiply your posts to catch up with time :) There are 3 of those !

          Re ..where/when there is a rise in consciousness there is an equally strong "drawing down" by the resisting elemental.

          Is it what i think it is ? We are not talking about anything external here, it's individual own 'elemental' which is resisting , right ?
          Any alive system tend to stabilise itself, does it mean that with raise of consciousness polarity increases ? Do we became more and more dual creatures ?
          Actually it's one process ; external is the reflection of the internal and vice verse.
          What do ' Attained ones' say on this ? I don't know who they are, those individuals you are talking about. Please don't forget you are dealing with an ignorant person, but I would like to know :)

          Thank you and have a nice day !
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 24 2012: I remember an Orthodox priest once told me , that Saints are those who tempted the most. I didn't understand him back then, but now it seems to me I do .
          It's about balance , what demons haunted them ...occasionally ?

          Thanks !
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 24 2012: In Hebrew there is an expression : LAMA KAKHA . The simple answer to "lama" ( why ? ) is "kakha".( because ) The literal meaning is "just so", but it is exactly as answering "because." when asked "why?". There is even a phrase that comes after this answer, "kakha zo lo tshuva", which means "because is not ( there is no ) a [proper] answer".
          I guess, ' why ?' is an 'event horizon' it is not intelligible. Just love it !
          Nice ! I love it ! :)
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: i think this is undeniably true. The advent of computers alone is apparently doubling our knowledge every 18 months or so. Knowlege is power they say and humanity is good at capitalizing upon it. In the past. everyone was just guessing at what would cause the best outcome. Now we may still be guessing but it is at a far smaller range of likely causes and it is all still being studied and reported by interested lay people and professional researchers. Additionally, we have more minds cooperating and they are more diverse - read here more widely reaching -in their understanding because computers take the need for much math literacy and other literacy upon themselves and pure creativity and openness can arrive at the discussion table.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: I think that the video by Matt Ridley is germane to this conversation.

    Matt talks about how this phenomenon can also regress. Either way the cause is communication or the lack of communication. He makes a statement that he is not as concerned about IQ (he is from Oxford) as with the ability to communicate. Maybe the most brilliant talk on TED.

    Also note that the materials are also evolving.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: It's hard to know what you mean with human evolution, since technology has always been part of human evolution. Homo Sapiens as you know it is evolved to eat cooked food, to hunt with weapons and to sleep in shelters.
    A long time ago, there was a strong evolutionnary pressure towards tool use, so our hands and brains are derived from that time. The thing about technology today is that it's great enough and fast enough to accomodate itself AROUND our biological selves, which need a hell of a lot more time to evolve. So whatever piece of technology comes out, you can be pretty sure it'll be adapted to a hunter-gatherer homo sapiens. And it's not the other way around. We're not changing much, and haven't changed much since stone age. Why should we? Our children are all adapted. Even severe disabilities don't prevent people from reproducing. If anything, technology has stopped human evolution...
    ... until now. We're entering a new era, that of genetic knowledge. This will indeed accelerate our evolution, since we'll be able to chose and even design features and make it happen over a single generation.
    • Jul 18 2012: I do not know if technology has been with us all through our evolution ,we went for millions of years in ascent to where we stand today on the food chain with nothing but our instinct and wit our first encounter with technology was probably the club which we realized we could hold and defend ourselves,then over several more thousands of years we realized that fire could be used to also benefit our lives,I am sure by that time we started using caves or some other form of shelter, and all of these discoveries helped to increase our mortality,we started growing things to eat,we became the hunter instead of the hunted,we created a form of communication that was more exact in its ability to inform the ones around and the ones to come about what was needed to survive,we started leaving records that are still with us and though the people that created these cave wall drawings did not see,could not see that they were making a statement"we are here"from that first endeavor to chisel and stone,to a sharpened feather and papaya to printing press took tens of thousands of years,then to go from caves to village to city and everything that that involved,but these things took a long time to happen.As far as human evolution is concerned, the first true homo sapiens probably stood about three feet tall and weighed about thirty pounds at best and had a life expectancy of about fifteen years the same as any mammal at that time, until about one hundred ago the average height of humans was five feet seven inches and weighed about one hundred ten pounds with a life expectancy of sixty years,the generation that is being born now will average three inches in height,thirty pounds in weight,and live seventeen years longer all due to the technology of nutrition and medicine.
  • Jul 25 2012: My iPad is pretty!
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2012: If anything, I believe technology has taken any kind of natural selection away from humanity. Other animals are subject to environmental strains while we are doing whatever we please. Our society is so saturated with resources that we have no need for direct competition. What's more abhorring is that humans are actually changing the environment to suit its purpose, which is going against natural selection in its entirety.

    That is not to say that humans have stopped evolving. Our society has been putting social stress on its members to become more motivated to make money, adapt to technology, and to be sensitive to social situations. These kinds of stress come from media, technology and our peers. You are totally right about kids becoming more adapted to the environment that we live in. It is because kids have the highest mental capacity to learn and are willing to change/try new things. I am fairly confident in saying that within two generations, our children will be very much different from our parents, as we are completely different from our grandparents.
  • Jul 24 2012: Is this question a joke? If not then your an alien who has just landed in the past hour and have not yet taped our communication system.
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2012: I rather think that technology has slowed human evolution. We now carry our brain in our hands. Our memory has been outsourced to the clouds. We should not confuse ease of access to information and wonderful electronic toys with human evolution - by which I believe you mean the constant forward progression of the human organism.
    • Jul 24 2012: evolution is not always progressive and can be affected by events that we may not consider a part of the evolution plan,but it is ,it's called adapting,as the history of this planet has shown organism either adapt or perish and it all becomes part of evolution,you are right,what happens to knowledge when the battery dies,are we destined to be sitting around a fire telling the next generation about this place that was called "ATLANTIS"
  • thumb
    Jul 24 2012: I understand that evolution has a positive sense, it means to change from one determined state to a better one qualitatively speaking. It is true that today humans enjoy more efficient technological devices, technology that has affected the way they think, behave and live; however, the effects are not necessarily good. No evolution involves the destruction of a species' environment, no evolution involves the drive for a species to kill each other, no evolution involves the improvement of means to keep amassing fortunes, keep getting power and keep controling society at the expense of others of their own kind's suffering and death. That is involution.
  • Jul 24 2012: I believe your observations are absolutely right and is something that continue to be true. Technology IMHO is developed exponentially, now that we have a mostly free world with intelligent minds and the ability to communicate findings and quickly and easily. Allowing people in different places to work together and discuss findings through our newly discovered advanced communication network (internet) we will continue to advance at a rate never seen before. We how have 14 year old kids developing nuclear reactors in their parents basements. In closing, I 100 percent agree with you, it is going to continue to do so, and in the next 30 years we are going to see dramatic changes in our lifestyles and our gadgets!
  • Jul 23 2012: Yes. But it is not technology. It is the demands technological development or technology mastering place upon those who either use or develop it which causes intellectual capacity to grow. A hoe or shovel will not change its user that much because they are limited tools. But a computer or digital media device is a different proposition--it's users don't possess the capacity to master their use but instead grow that capacity as they acclimate to a problem-solving environment. This means that there are great gulfs between person in the world these days--some folks are super-developed and super capable while others not so. I can't say if or how much tis effects evolution of the species, but it does represent evolution of civilization. We need to embrace and maximize this but aren't doing so because we have a persisting errant belief that intelligence is a matter of pre-determination and "study". It is not. It is a matter of neuroplastic dynamism and we can see that being proved through history whenever circumstances have called upon humans to solve lots of problems in a short time. We went from flying a "gas can" across the Atlantic Ocean to going to the moon and back in 41 years. If we understood neuroplasticity, we could probably have halfed that time.
    • Jul 24 2012: James I think you are wrong about the hoe and the shovel they have been apart of our progress to where we are on this road,these tools in one form or an other,have been around for tens of thousands of years,they helped to make us growers instead of hunters,they helped in the creation of villages,they were used to create irrigation systems to nurture the crops they helped build homes, dig a fire pit,with out the creation of these tools we would not be talking about how far we have come,oh by the way James, have you ever used a hoe or shovel? it's very rewarding
      • Jul 24 2012: Yes I have used a hoe and a shovel. You miss--greatly miss the nuance of my distinction, misjudge, and disrespect with sarcasm. There is a difference--a big difference between a hand implement which is obvious in its purpose and function like a shovel, a hammer, a baseball bat et al and a device that falls into the hands of the common person which has virtually unlimited applications none of which are obvious merely by looking at the device. This phenomenon--the technology phenomenon which has been ongoing since the PC made its way into ubiquity--has acted as a stimulus which has required millions upon millions of people to engage in many kinds and volumes of deductive reasoning which their brains respond to neuroplastically with the growth of new interconnections (dendrites) daily. You may not be up on that--most people aren't. I am. And I have done professional writing over many years on this leap in nature of what we call "tools". Asking me if I have used a shovel is obnoxiously snarky and perhaps you don't belong on TED is that's how you react to things outside of your experience or grasp.

        Both kinds of tools--the hand implement for obvious purpose, and the digital device for "virtual" purpose--cause the user to deduce what is achievable with them. But there is a ceiling on the items used for physical objectives compared to virtual. I stated very clearly that I can't say if or how much this effects evolution of our species but I can with no reservation say it is impacting the evolution of our culture. Unfortunately not enough people are maximizing the potential this offers and are not attempting to change the culture by design--culture is changing merely by default. But neuroplastic dynamism is at work in every person every day and the more one ventures into creating or understanding the capacities of digital technology the more capable they become of advancing to next steps--whatever those are. IMO this must and will eventually be a central ed reform criterion.
  • Jul 23 2012: The whole "cyborg" movement I think plays a huge part in this discussion. A human with a pacemaker i believe is no longer is definitely an evolved human in the least. Even though it is not a naturally evolved part of the body it was still developed an implanted by our species.
    • Jul 24 2012: hips,knees,shoulders,teeth,trans planted organs,we're just not the humans we use to be
  • Jul 23 2012: It seems to me that the question posed is about the advancement of technology and not evolution of the species. No matter how fast technology changes, evolution still takes much much longer to be noticeable.
    • Jul 24 2012: at this point in our development they are intertwined
  • Jul 23 2012: Sorry, should have said "arrow" of time not "wheel"..................................................still sounds dumb, oh well.
    • Jul 24 2012: Paul you are definitely not dumb,your students are lucky to a have teacher like you
  • Jul 23 2012: I think humans are a special case in evolution. For example young animals can learn from their parents and their parent from their grandparents.

    We can learn from the whole humanity history. Nobody question the previous knowledge unless we have reasonable doubts.

    Why we evolve this way if this type of evolution seems not common in nature? Why aquiring knowledge by reding make in us such a difference in evolutive terms?
    • Jul 24 2012: Efrain, there are two possible reasons for the rise of humans to this level, one is that a great power guided us all along the way,or we got lucky,I myself am kind of leaning toward the first one
  • Jul 23 2012: Definitely, yes. Look.

    If you assume that humankind was born on January 1st and that you proportionally put human evolution at the scale of a year. That means that we are today on december 31st. Do you have any idea of when we discover fire ?

    On october 31st...

    Seems like during the last week of december humans were quite busy. I think that we can conclude that advances in technology have open-up new realm of knowledges and accelerate human evolution. In any case so far.
    • Jul 23 2012: I like your year analogy, but is that an indicator of the evolution of the species or simply technological advancement?
    • Jul 23 2012: I think it was Carl Sagan that used a similar scale,but he used a 24 hour scale and on his scale,I believe he had us appear on the scale around 11:40 pm,I hope you will forgive me if I have made an error on the time line,it has been about 30 years since I saw this and time has dulled my memory on some details,in fact mammals did not appear until 11 pm,so our foot print on our planet,in 20 short minutes,has been indelible,too bad their is no Hippocratic Oath for the planet that reads first do no harm,this is our only home,there is no where else for us.
  • Jul 23 2012: every living thing on this planet has adapted to specific conditions that exist in different areas of the planet and pretty much spend their lives there,the only one that can move from one enviorment to another with relative ease are humans,our ability to adapt very quickly to those changes gave us an advantage over other creatures,you find humans everywhere, no matter where,no matter the climate,we survive there,we adapt,look at the difference in the way we have been modified to perform under different conditions,long legs,thin bodies for those that live in flat areas,short powerful legs,larger chest,for those that live in mountainous areas,and they could still survive in each others area,we are the most adaptable creature on this planet,the irony is that the only place we can't do this is in the place where we began
  • thumb
    Jul 23 2012: Thank you Patrick! my mistake - I was trying to compare it to exponential function as you said.
  • Jul 23 2012: I'm kind of intrigued with computer dating sites (Christian Mingle) that create the opportunity for people with a tendency to be religious to mate. I have a hunch that there is a 'religiosity' centre of the brain that evolved and is related to forming social bonding as in the transition of hunter - gatherer groups to larger agricultural communities. If there becomes a trend where this religiosity trait is preferred in evolution then modern technology will have at least influenced human evolution. Then of course modern genetic manipulation based on any preferred traits that disallow random mutation is limiting to random natural selection. If we can choose all specific traits through genetic engineering we will be less diverse and less hearty as a species. Cloning being the epidomy of non-diversity. Too much order leads to chaos.
  • Jul 23 2012: The fact is there is no selection of mates based on survival of the fittest any more we all survive ,we all procreate without any intrusion of the laws of survival, we all survive,we all pass on to the next generation the positive and negative features,there was a time when only the strong survived,not so anymore,the gene pool of the best of our breed is being diluted with every generation,so if technology is to play a larger and larger part in whatever way we evolve it will be based on our inability to live by the law of the survival of the fittest.
    • Jul 23 2012: So people don't pick the people they sleep with based on intelligence, physique, and social ability? Just because we take care of our stupid doesn't mean that they make children. Sure, there are anecdotal examples of people that absolutely are not near the top of the evolutionary ladder pumping out 8 kids, but how many of those kids are going to OD, die in motorcycle accidents, or waste all of their money and die young due to health issues they can't afford to address? Evolutionary selection still plays a huge role in a technologically advanced society, it's just that the attributes that allow you to thrive are becoming more integrative and complex. Being strong doesn't matter anymore if you're unintelligent and can't communicate well. If you're 95th percentile in the major desired traits though, you better believe that people are going to want to make babies with you, and given the broader range of social tools, you have a bolstered ability to choose someone who also has desirable traits. I think it much more likely now than ever that two extremely high functioning individuals are able to find and mate with one another to produce offspring that relative to the average human, are borderline superheroes. The real issue I see is that highly intelligent people recognize how screwed up the world is and don't want to bring children into it. This gives them a greater ability to make a positive change in the world though, so it seems that such an issue is just a temporary one until the childless geniuses take a couple decades to get this mess solved.
  • Jul 22 2012: How we measure evolution and what are the metrics? Good question.

    If evolution is the capacity to adapt to achanging enviroment, evolution should be the change in adaptation divided by change in environment.

    Somebody knows if the evolution can go backwards? I say some species that are extinct not because the environment changes but because they evolve wrongly?
    • thumb
      Jul 22 2012: Uhm the point with evolution is: It never goes wrong! Mistakes are part of evolution ofcourse but those mistakes if theyre drastical enough will sort out themselves by just being unable to live and reproduce.

      It may however happen that some species dont evolve fast enough or changes in the environment are too fast for species to adapt (put it the way you want). For exampel in case the dinsosaurs died through a comet they just didnt have the time to evolve into being able to resist the changes in their environment.
      That doesnt mean they evolved wrong or anything they evolved perfectly fine ... until something changed in a way dinosaurs didnt have to deal with before.

      Evolution is not being able to adapt to a changing environment.
      Its slightly more complex basically every entity which reproduces with slight changes will evolve.
      Thus its not a skill or an ability but a process.

      And its not a process that is limited to organic entities but also to non organic entities.
      For example: companies, products, societies, cultures, science, technology and so on.

      Those do in some way reproduce themselves however in some cases for example culture the reproduction is kinda fluent where theres not a "new culture" at once but rather individual parts of the culture being replaced by better working parts.

      In those cases mentioned above its also worth being sais that the environment in which the entities evolve is
      defined by the underlying entity (humans in those cases) the underlying entitiy of life (which also evolves) would be chemical components (weve got large amounts of O2 N2 in our air and theres oceans of H2O ... those chemicals havent been there since the world formed but they are still there because they all are pretty stable compunds ... at least the energy the sun provides isnt enough to destroy them)
  • thumb
    Jul 22 2012: It may sound quite strange, when it is perceiving from present time - but it seems to me, that people from the beginning of 20th century, which would be able to foresee future and experience our current reality - they would consider calling us the next generation of people (without going into details, but I was thinking about our possibilities of moving through whole earth and beyond, our access to information and global knowledge and so on) - it is merely one century, but thanks to that geometric progression of current reality and whole evolution - this sort of shock could be possible.
  • Jul 21 2012: Humanity evolves to adapt better to their environment. This is, using our daily experiences or by learn from the previously developed knowledge. If we compete intellectually we will evolve more rapidly in that area and less on the ones we don't need so urgent to our survival. Some of our natural selection mechanisms differ from the rest of the nature. The risk of having a weak natural selection mechanisms is that each day, the bridge between the more adapted and less adapted to an environment goes wider. For example maybe the people from poor countries evolve healthier and on development countries smarter.
  • Jul 21 2012: While technology has advanced in my lifetime by leaps and bounds, I see it having the opposite effect on human evolution. It is slowing it down by a large margin, even reversing it in some cases.

    It is likely best to begin with a description of how evolution works. When a mating species reproduces, DNA is combined to produce a hybrid of the two partners. This creates a genetic hybrid of the two partners, sometimes with the best of the two, but usually with a random selection of each of the traits. To complicate things, DNA replication is not perfect and errors can occur, making the offspring slightly different than either of the parents. Sometimes this is minor, limited to eye or hair color, but occasionally it is major, like retardation or deformity or, sometimes, a natural talent like photographic memory or increased athletic ability. These mutations are what constitute evolution, and the theory of natural selection describes this process.

    Back to our modern day human.. People today, thanks to modern medicine and technology now live far longer lives than a few generations ago, let alone tens of thousands of years ago. People today are also selected for far different criteria than back then. Intelligent, productive people tend to have far less children than sedentary, less intelligent people. This example is often highlighted by the 'welfare family' here in America, where even those who are far from the 'fittest' still survive, supported (both technologically and financially) by those who are the best equipped to improve our genetic pool.

    The result of such breeding practices is a pool of offspring which are the result of selection away from natural forces and towards survival deficiencies. In effect, technology and, in part, poverty assistance, have enabled those who otherwise would be the first to die off to live long enough to reproduce, to the detriment of the species as a whole.

    In effect, tech has overridden natural selection of humans, we are devolving
    • Jul 22 2012: What if the evolution now is not about biology but about cognition ? We are not talking about survival these days we are talking about truth.
      It's just a thought, i don't state anything :)
      • Comment deleted

        • Jul 24 2012: Hi, Ed ,
          there is nothing new here, nothing 'mine' :)
          It's ' spirit comes first' in the context of evolution. And judging from your ' apes to Angels' comment I guess, you think that it has always been that way.
          To clarify : spirit ( as i stand under :) it ) is a real but not observable carrier of observable forces. Cognition is nothing more than ' know thyself' in action. It's true, we have never left that domain.

          I seem to have a lot of opinions today :)

          Enjoy your day !
  • thumb
    Jul 21 2012: Hi,

    Your question is very interesting. But I want to add an idea that I've had for a few years :
    We don't really want to know what genetic changes can happen in a few years, but how our new hi-tech, hyper-fast thinking world can influence the genetic, long-term evolution of our human specie.

    Here is my idea : the human evolution will not any more depend on genetic selection as other species, but on political and social issues.

    Fisrt : do we decide to help genetically disadvantaged people to live normally and have children ? This will influence the selection that would have been otherwise. Do we put criminal and agressive people into prison so that they can't have children (less than others) ? Who is advantaged, or disadvantaged, by our society to save its genetical (dis)advantages ?

    Second : who in our social life, has major chances to marry and have many children ? Well-built bodies, faithful people, rich people, or healthier people ? What criteria now determines the best chance to find a sister soul and create families ? Intelligence ? Success ?

    Our social environnement will imply future human evolution directions. In the long term, our civilization will select new genes, we don't know which ones, but let's hope it will preserve us from self extinction.
    • thumb
      Jul 21 2012: This sounds like you see a continuing role for genetic selection but that such genetic selection becomes bounded by social constraints and the new possibilities as well as forms of control that technology provides.
    • Jul 22 2012: "...In the long term, our civilization will select new genes..."

      I hope it will never happen :)
  • Jul 20 2012: If anything technology has created the mind quickening evolution. It has demonstrated to our mind the innovation, imagination and passing of ideas has no limit. As space travel has illuminated out ability to reach the stars, technology has open corridors in the mind not traveled even by Einstein. One we were shacked by the blinders we artificially put on the brain. Now we see in a radius of 360 degrees in every plane. I doubt the rest of our body will catch up, for we still move at the speed of Maine. Someday maybe our bodies will move forward, as medicine unlocks the nano of our core. But till that day, maybe next week the mind will sores while the body drags...
    • Jul 21 2012: Russell thanks for your thoughts on this subject, I think we probably reached our physical peak before the stone age and I think we started refining our intelligence during the stone age, look at what was accomplished during that period, tools, fire,farming,preserving of food,communication,shelter,creating social interaction,people from different families forming tribes,all of these things had only one purpose, survival, and so it goes.
  • Jul 20 2012: is it fast enough to allow us to survive the inevitable collapse of our civilization
  • Jul 20 2012: Reread the book Big Brain Maybe primitives or at least some of them needed bigger brains and better, etc. etc. We haven't answered who is in charge and who and how decisions are made in this bright new future if it is. As a former physics graduate student I listened to the pdhysicist's talk on plasma physics. Tritium is radioactive folks. Are we really further along than forty years ago when we were hoping to getr power from a deuteriom deuterium reaction? Narmer was five(5) thousand years ago in Egypt. The short term future is a long time. His negative view on the alternatives is discomforting, but correct. Don't bet your house on plasma physics.
  • N SHR

    • 0
    Jul 20 2012: First let me emphasize that "human evolution" is about the "genes" of the population members and how that changes. That said,

    Medical technology has helped some humans survive (and reproduce) who wouldn't have survived a few centuries ago. So that diversifies the gene pool, and who knows maybe after a few thousand years and a combination of mutations suddenly something really strong and very different emerges.
    Technology has also changed the environment in which our population has to compete and survive in. Physical labor is replaced with robotics/Information technology, so (assuming energy demands of these automations are fulfilled) that will definitely changes the surviving genes in the pool a couple of centuries into the future.
  • thumb
    Jul 20 2012: I believe so. Are lifespans have gotten much longer than they were just a couple hundred years ago and are intellect has gotten much better over the millennium. And now, with genetic engineering, we can sort of play the role of a "god" and change are genetics at will in order to improve lifespan, strength ect. All we need is a few more improvements on it.
    • Jul 20 2012: I doubt life span is a good indicator of evolution. Yes we are bigger faster, and stronger, and yes we do live longer. But we travel at such a slower rate compared to our mind and technology. Basically technology is an indicator of our mind, while there doesn't seem to be a indicator of our progress as in evolution. Our basic test of endurance and strength has been very slow in hind sight. The Olympic athletes don't shatter records any faster then they did 25 years ago. the progress is in seconds and 10th of seconds. The past is basically the same as in the early 1900. Where as the brain has transformed medicine, to farming to industrialization. Just a humble thought to ponder...
      • thumb
        Jul 21 2012: Well, we may not have evolved in terms of athletics but the ability to have a vast exchange of knowledge is much more important. Technology (after some time) will allow us to do anything we wish to the human body. Or, you could just call it technologically assisted evolution.
  • thumb
    Jul 20 2012: Absolutely, without doubt. The answer to most things are now right at our fingertips. Robust discussions on complex issues are now accessible for everyone, we learn then move on.

    My 17 & 14 year old kids really do know everything, i just thought i did...
    • thumb
      Jul 20 2012: But will your grandkids think that your kids know everything?
      • Jul 21 2012: If they do there is some thing wrong with them,it don't matter though,they wouldn't be able to balance their check book either.
        • thumb
          Jul 22 2012: Why won't they be able to balance their check books, strange comment? Speculating on unborn kids ability to do anything is one thing, making statements like that is probably more a reflection of ones own inadequacies.
      • thumb
        Jul 22 2012: I can only speculate but lets hope so
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2012: No, it is downsizing it.
    • Jul 21 2012: the mayor of New York would agree with you.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jul 20 2012: DId our genomes say:stop mutating when a women is being pregnant ... if that was the case all children would look the same .... thats THE indicator for when we stop evolving... i see many diffrent people today ... were not finished yet,
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: In Darwin's term, No, not yet, this will start the moment we are manipulating our DNS by genetic engineering.

    If you would take a baby from 2000 B.C., place it in a modern family and let it grow there for 6 years, it would bump into the same automatic door with the sensor defect as all the rest of us ... :o)
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: Scientifically it needs proof / evidence to say either YES ot NO to your question....
    Logically there is a high probability of infulence of radiation we are exposed to due to technological development to accelerate mutation of not only human gene but also genes of other species so it shouldn't be only specific to homo spaiens.
    • thumb
      Jul 18 2012: I don't think Arthur means literal genetic evolution, more mental and cognitive evolution or that's how I interpreted it anyway.
      • thumb
        Jul 18 2012: Well, here is something science does say: Apparently several prominent IQ tests have been forced to ajust their norms upward due to the rapid explosion of certain skills among the population.
        When i reflect on this, it has to do with gaming and technological input in my estimation.Is this an example of evoluition seen in our time frame?
        • thumb
          Jul 18 2012: Of course it is, another example is this, what did the children of 1900 learn in ICT class? Nothing there wasn't one. 100 years later almost every school in developed countries teaches ICT. Evolution.
      • thumb
        Jul 19 2012: May be you are right about intension of Arthur.....but I answered as I perceeived.

        Logically again more impulses brain gets during developing phase it should develop different way than a brain which were not exposed to such proof this logical hypothesis scientifically needs evidence and proof.

        Are you aware of any such scientific research and it's findings?
  • Jul 18 2012: I believe human evolution is driving the technology as much as the opposite. We will keep coming up with new inventions or improvements to current tech to keep our minds churning. The rate of evolution may fluctuate ( is it a sine wave?) but it will keep going. I don't think we will ever reach a point where we will hear that we have reached the end. Humans will evolve in the next 100 years to better suite the environment which will be significantly different than the cave man.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: Technology IS human evolution.
    And if anything, I believe it'll 'speed up' our mental evolution, and hinder our physical evolution.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: I would say recently in the past hundred years we've taken huge leaps, though this could be followed by a stagnant period where not much more is found. But the indications so far suggest that we will continue developing ourselves.
    Tech has certainly opened many more doors to humanity and as you say each new piece of kit seems to open even more and more doors. So I'd say it has accelerated and is accelerating or mental evolution