I am just going to write a summary of what I looked at this week and will use this for a round of research. Something interesting I have been looking at is the evolution of humans, how we evolved over thousand of years to fit our environment and how technology is influencing our evolution now. “Natural selection can take us on different paths to reach the same outcome: survival” (Max).
People who lived at higher altitudes evolved to be able breath normally in those circumstances, where as if we went to a place where there were higher altitudes we wouldn’t be as comfortable and our bodies would have to work harder at getting oxygen in. We evolved to be able to process starch, lactose and fats. We even evolved into being able to cry and blush. Now we are evolving into something much more complicated...technology.
Neil Harbisson is the first official cyborg. He was born not being able to see colours at all. After having an antenna installed in his head, he was able to see colours in a whole new perspective. “The fiber-optic sensor picks up the colours in front of him, and a microchip implanted in his skull coverts their frequencies into vibrations on the back of his head. Those become sound frequencies, turning his skull into a sort of third ear….another implant was a Bluetooth communication hub, so friends could send him colours through his smartphone.” (Max). Would we be able to evolve around something like this? It seems like a strange question, but if it is a means of survival, could we? “Clearly Harbisson’s antenna is merely a beginning. But are we on the slow grind of natural selection spreading desirable genes, but also everything that we can do to amplify our powers and the powers of the things we make, a union of genes, culture, and technology? And if so, where is it taking us?....Evolution is relentless; when the chance of survival can be increased, it finds a way to make a change” (Max).
Technology has helped us in so many ways and the ways to use it is only increasing. An example would be reproductive success. Technology can help us speed up the process of evolution. New technology is allowing us to “bring about human-directed evolution” (Max). As we have been altering genes in other organisms, such as a mosquitos and changing its genes so it cannot carry malaria. We are able to use those same techniques to design are own babies. There seems to be many wanting to use this technology to improve human intelligence. But does it seem worth it when technology will be able to “outperform even the most enhanced humans” (Max) in a couple of years?
There seems to be a human evolution and a technology evolution. Human evolution happens very slowly, it happens over a few generations. Technology evolution happens fast, we are able to use this technology to speed up processes. The two are starting to merge which is creating a faster evolution. The merge of technology and people has many advantages. “Parkinson’s disease sufferers worldwide have implants, so called brain pacemakers, to control symptoms of their malady. Artificial retinas for some types of blindness and cochlear implants for hearing loss are common….The University of Southern California's Centre for Neural Engineering is testing chip implants in the brain to recover lost memories. The protocol might one day be applied to Alzheimer's patients and those who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury….hundreds of people have radio-frequency identification devices embedded in their bodies that allow them to unlock their doors or log on to their computers without touching anything.” (Max). As this evolution increases, it is important to make sure we are taking the right safety precautions as well, or else evolution could bring on a whole new meaning. “Neil Harbisson sees a future vastly improved by widening our senses with such technology. “Night vision,” he says, “would give us the ability to adapt to the environment: design ourselves instead of the planet. Designing the planet is harming it.” (Max).
Max, D.T. National Geographic, The Next Human. National Geographic Society, 2017, pp. 40-63.