Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Future of Human Evolution

People like to talk about how humans will evolve in the future. There is a whole section of the book "After Man," a speculation about the future of evolution, that deals with human beings. This is really silly.

The reason it's silly is because the future of humankind will not be determined through evolution through natural selection, or even sexual selection in the classic sense. Genetic engineering will overtake natural evolution in a generation or two. After that, our genes will be determined by our choices of how to manipulate them.

Will we still be evolving through natural selection? Of course, that can't be stopped. But looking at evolutionary forces to predict our future is like looking at how rainfall degrades skyscrapers in LA to determine what the cityscape will look like in year 2500. Sure, rain erodes skyscrapers a little, but those buildings are torn down and replaced with new ones before those effects have any effect. Our genes will be like those skyscrapers very soon.

Unless there is some disaster that reverts us to a pre-technological society, I think it's safe to ignore evolutionary forces in predicting humankind's future.

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