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arthur mitsias

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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.

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  • 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.

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