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Minh Do
  • Minh Do
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (Sgn
  • Vietnam

Director of Marketing Communications, An Giang University

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What would the next Homo Sapiens look like? What kinds of characteristics would they have?

Homo Sapiens Idaltu (the subspecies) is dated to be 160,000 years old and Homo Sapiens Sapiens (the subspecies) reached full behavioral modernity 50,000 years ago. Homo Sapiens (the species) arrived on the evolutionary scene about 200,000 years ago. Doesn't that mean that we've been due for another evolution for quite sometime now? Or have we already evolved and didn't even notice? Or have we been preventing our own evolution via medicine and technological enhancements? Or have those enhancements really done the opposite? Enhanced our evolution? Either way, what are the characteristics of this new subspecies that could already be here today or will show its face in the centuries to come?

In other words, what do scientists, philosophers, and you think is the natural evolutionary step in our own species? Especially given this new human-built environment that we have been constructing for the past millenia.

Topics: evolution
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    Apr 2 2011: Do watch the video on min 24,
    Rita's Levi-Montalcini words about evolution are not to be missed on the subject!

    http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1101
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      Apr 2 2011: Thanks for sharing. Really interesting this limbic versus cognitive issue in making decisions. Will someday technology get rid of the dilemma? Will always be like this that the ultimate decision rely on us humans?
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        Apr 8 2011: is it really a dilemma? evolution versus?
        How much knowledge have we lost and how can we tell we are now more evolved, stable or in a decline?
        Technology is just another box. Definition of ultimate decision to be seen, but would be very egocentric to see human species as The Ultimate Decision Maker.
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    Apr 1 2011: We are the terminus species, are we not? There is no possible way for the natural world to sustain our species long enough for complete evolutionary development.

    Or are we talking about extra-terrestrial life form intervention?

    Perhaps stem cell modification will be applied? Place your order soon. Hold the mayo on mine.
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    Mar 31 2011: I hope we are evolving into more inter-dependent, creative, peaceful, loving, fearless, happy beings. But I don´t really know where we humans are heading. I will enjoy the ride and share as much as I can during my lifetime anyway!
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      Apr 1 2011: Anna, I share your sentiments there. :-)
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    Mar 31 2011: Short answer:
    - Cyborgs! (Get ready to be assimilated)
    - Genetic manipulation and eugenics are also options.
    - Or we'll give the torch to AI and go extinct
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      Apr 1 2011: Christophe,

      - By cyborgs, do you mean bionic arms and such? Or do you mean the development of silicon neurons that could replace our own organic neurons? Or do you mean something as benign as stem cells?
      - Genetics and eugenics...As in engineering a new race of beings as seen in Gattaca?
      - AI - That's a funny idea, if silicon developed as advanced consciousness as ourselves, I guess we'd have to give them the torch, especially if our species is unable to survive a global catastrophe (knock on wood).
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    Mar 31 2011: Great question!

    You have tagged a lot of related talks, but in my opinion you missed the one that answers the question, or at least tries to answer the question, namely this one (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/juan_enriquez_shares_mindboggling_new_science.html) by Juan Enriquez on mindboggling science and on the rise of what he calls "homo evolutis", a human who is capable of changing himself and species around himself as he pleases.

    How we will look and what characteristics we will have, it's all up to us to decide that.
    • Apr 1 2011: I agree.

      As others implied, we will direct our own evolution. Microbes ‘digest’ oil. That is how contaminated soil becomes ‘reclaimed’. In an increasingly polluted environment, perhaps we will design ourselves to take advantage of contaminated air & water, and reduce our caloric need as well. As we are able to grow replacement organs from cells, why not grow modified replacement organs from cells more suited to the environment we will be living in.

      Imagine having bioglobin like whales and being able to stay underwater without coming up for air often. Imaging being able to meet all our nutritional requirements from grass, like herd animals. No telling what homo evolutis would look like. It would be possible to have many different subspecies attuned to the environment it would be living in
  • Apr 23 2011: Mostly, I fear the unintended consequences. We talk as if we really think we can anticipate and control all the outcomes. I don't think we can and the probability of unanticipated "bad" outcomes seems to me to outweigh getting a batting average of 1.000 or anything close to it.
  • Apr 6 2011: You need to take some intensive courses in biological evolution, and then write that science fiction novel you've been contemplating.
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    Apr 3 2011: Some developments I can see are inability to focus on one thing at once (there was a study that now social media triggers instant reward centers of the brain, thus people get a rush of pleasure every time someone posts a comment or likes their status - so they stop having the same pleasure when they accomplish only one thing at a time, focused, and get little recognition for their work) - or attention deficit disorder. Other developments can include a larger brain, more multitasking abilities (hopefully), and a higher tolerance for information overload. Maybe. But then again, we might not have the time to develop all those, I think technology is going a bit too fast for everyone right now. What will happen if we can't keep up with it?
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    Apr 2 2011: We human beings are taking control of evolution by creating creatures, by creating organic robots, and by using these technologies in our own bodies. In Paul Root Wolpe's words: «We are directly designing the future of the species of this planet. It confers upon us an enormous responsibility that is not just the responsibility of the scientists and the ethicists who are thinking about it and writing about it now. It is the responsibility of everybody because it will determine what kind of planet and what kind of bodies we will have in the future.»

    But, what if homo sapiens is given place to a more evolutioned hominid, what about the «homo noeticus» conquering the noosphere? This is just a question in search for more insight, not an assertion…

    Related links:

    Paul Root Wolpe: It's time to question bio-engineering
    http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_root_wolpe_it_s_time_to_question_bio_engineering.html

    Noetic theory
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noetic_theory

    Noosphere
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noosphere

    Visualization Trends For The Noosphere
    http://visitmix.com/articles/Visualization-Trends-For-The-Noosphere
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    Apr 1 2011: We human beings are taking control of evolution by creating creatures, by creating organic robots, and by using these technologies in our own bodies. In Paul Root Wolpe's words: «We are directly designing the future of the species of this planet. It confers upon us an enormous responsibility that is not just the responsibility of the scientists and the ethicists who are thinking about it and writing about it now. It is the responsibility of everybody because it will determine what kind of planet and what kind of bodies we will have in the future.»

    But, what if homo sapiens is given place to a more evolutioned hominid, what about the «homo noeticus» conquering the noosphere? This is just a question in search for more insight, not an assertion…

    Related links:
    Paul Root Wolpe: It's time to question bio-engineering
    http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_root_wolpe_it_s_time_to_question_bio_engineering.html

    Noetic theory
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noetic_theory

    Noosphere
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noosphere

    Visualization Trends For The Noosphere
    http://visitmix.com/articles/Visualization-Trends-For-The-Noosphere
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      Apr 3 2011: An interesting thought, especially if you consider the influence of the observation factor in experiments on quantum mechanics. Perhaps thoughts can manifest themselves physically, but if so, it will be a long time from now until it happens in my opinion. Noetic science is for now a questionable field of research.
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    Apr 1 2011: In my opinion...
    From a biological perspective, human had ceased to evolve as we become civilized (IE.we do not kill off the weak and the cripples).

    Intellectually, we are evolving to a great divide of the "Extremistan and Mediocristan" (terms borrowed from Nassim Taleb book - Black Swan) where the ultimate outcome is the manifestation of a slave/master society.

    Without new technology to sustain/expand consumable resources in combine with population control (kill off the weak and the cripples...!?), social unrest and inter-national conflicts are inevitable.

    Peace.
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      Apr 1 2011: Ok. However, it is known that our collective DNA pool is thin. A large amount of the human population was destroyed long ago and with it a great genetic diversity. "Killing off the weak" won't help. They still contain much of the diversity needed to maintain our existence. Otherwise, we will continue to get weaker.
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      Apr 1 2011: Granted, we have left the point where i would run and try to run you down and bite you in the ass to offer up dinner to the kids. If you were faster, then I died out kind of scenario. BUT... I do think we still evolve, we are just more subtle about it. We as a species controls (to more of a degree) its environment better than any other. So as we have become civilized, we have settled into a mode of life where we do not need to develop more obvious traits(gills, a tail, etc). That is the obvious point, I agree. But I also agree with Juan Enriquez as well (mindboggling science) and believe we have evolved to the point where technology plays too big a key as well. Virtual selection? I don't think that we will get any weaker at this stage of the game. We will either blow ourselves to bits in the relatively near future or humanity will finally get it and we will carry on until something beyond our control takes us out. :)
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        Apr 2 2011: You may be right. Great points. Thanks.
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    Apr 1 2011: phisicly like us mentaly -ALL POSSIBILITIES! allknowing,
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    Mar 31 2011: Someone noted, that evolution is a ramdom numbers game, so to speak. And unless a deadly virus or some kind of violent force destroys all of mankind except for some unaffected few for genetic reasons, who then continue on life again, breeding all over the place with their specific DNA, evolution isn't really going to happen...our own technology stops that. Humanities evolution is our technology. We'll advance as it advances.
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      Apr 1 2011: Do you think that the technology that we create affects our own neuronal evolution and thus promotes a gradual biological mutation that will come to predominate human society? I guess I'm wondering if certain people will be more likely to survive than others based on the increasingly human-created environments we have been constructing for the past few millenia.
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    Mar 31 2011: I think you may be missing a subtle point about evolution. As a process evolution is about informational storage. It accomplishes that via random mutation and natural selection. The reason man has become the dominant force on earth is that we were the first species to evolve to "self"-selection and complex, high density data storage. There are no longer any processes that could place a biological imperative on our species that we would have a need to "naturally-select" for. That's why homo sapien means "wise/thinking man".

    I suppose you could make an argument that the development of modern medicine was an evolutionarily significant point worthy of a new name and machine integration into our biology will be another but aside from looking more attractive I doubt you're going to see a new kind of man.
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      Apr 1 2011: Point taken about biology, but you don't think that our brains still have some evolving to do?
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        Apr 8 2011: In a vacuum, yes. But my point is that they will never experience the evolutionary pressures required to evolve because there are quicker working processes in place that will impact the human brain first.

        To put it another way, lets assume that the human brain is required to evolve in a way that makes us better at X (pick your topic, math, understanding one another,resistant to disease, etc.). Is it more likely that we will achieve that goal through natural selection or through some combination of genetic engineering, gene therapy, organic technology, artificial bio-mimicry technological integration with our bodies or the invention of a computer that can think out the math, understand the scanned person or kill the disease?

        We may very well experience radical changes greater than any change put on us by darwinian forces but it's not going to be a "natural" process. Having said that I don't think you'll see any change to us visually as you often do in other types of evolution. I think that self-selecting to a different and more "alien" body would be anathema to the average person. The result then will be seen more as a cultural shift than an evolutionary one.
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      Mar 31 2011: "HOMUNCULUS? Preformationism? ...to think before thought? Unconscious, artificial intelligence? The concept of the "little man"? Religion plays too big a role for us to move "forward". My .02...
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    Mar 31 2011: Honesty, we may not last that long. We are soft, weak creatures easily affected negatively by change. The "water bear" approach is the best bet...
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    Mar 29 2011: I see the next Homo sapiens (if he is to survive at all) as a photosynthesising plant/human hybrid: http://www.corbisimages.com/Enlargement/AACH001363.html
    That would take care of our fighting for food and water and land. We could really become “the solar being”. To achieve this goal (and it is not as practically impossible as it seems) we need about 100 years breathing space in our terminal battle with the Earth. To get this breathing space, we need to find a way to decrease population growth dramatically, as we can never change human behaviour quickly enough. I was in Asia recently (including Vietnam) and I am aware of the demographic (and consumption) tide threatening us from there, as well as the rampant and continuing consumption by the developed countries.