Recently, I asked a friend, “Do we seem to be going backwards or forwards as humans?
He was frank.
“Americans are becoming swine.”
“They’re rude. They don’t look out for one another. Anymore, they’re out for themselves, their heads are in their devices. They don’t communicate face to face.”
He concluded, “Civilization is becoming unraveled.”
My friend has had great success in life, and usually a person like that is positive about life. But, his sentiments about Americans specifically and humans in general were surprisingly dark.
In fact, he was so sure of what he was saying, he didn’t even ask my opinion.
For what it’s worth, I disagree with him on his general assessment of we humans. I don’t believe we’ve become swine. In my opinion, we’re pretty much what we’ve always been as Homo sapiens.
For example, for at least six thousand years, poets, philosophers, and religious figures have always been admonishing us humans to treat our neighbors as we would want to be treated. In that regard nothing much has changed over time.
But, as the Nobel Prize winner in literature Bob Dylan wrote, with a tiny reinterpretation from me, “the times” they just might really be “a-changin.” (lyrics from Dylan’s great song, The Times They Are A-Changin, 1964.)
Truth is, my friend and I might both be profoundly wrong.
Humans are built to survive. If conditions surrounding our lives change, we’ll adapt. And if those changes are consciously created by we humans, we just might continue adapting until we become a new species.
For example, here are five areas that we are experimenting with right now. Eventually, it might lead to us becoming a new species – Homo genius.
- Digital Games: young children are playing at such advanced levels that the time is fast approaching in the cyber world when a micro civilization with its own bitcoin economy will be created. Implication: for future generations it may be more creative and prosperous living in a micro civilization.
- Robot/Human Integration: either we will enter a robot’s body, or a robot will enter ours, or both. The result will be a new kind of human. Result: far safer bodies and much greater human computing capacity.
- Cloning: in Argentina, horses are cloned to give a polo player the competitive edge to stay on top. You know, if it’s happening with horses, some place in the world rogue scientists have already cloned a human. That post-human will stick around for as long as clones are made of her or him.
- Mars Colonization: we will actually have a space colony on Mars. We will live on another planet. Eventually, children will be born there who will never know earth. Along with that, their genetic footprint will not so gradually evolve into a new kind of human.
- Medical Regeneration: medicine is knocking on the door of dramatic breakthroughs in extending our lives. Scientists are working with the genetic codes that partially turn off the aging process. As that happens, what will we be like when our average age will be 200 years old? Take it from one who is getting older, my outlook on life has radically changed from when I was twenty five. At two hundred, I might be willing to experiment with being something completely different than I am now.
Over one million years ago when humans were beginning to emerge, there wasn’t just one group of humans, there were different branches sprouting up, one being a little bit different than the other. Eventually after mergers and die outs, we arrived at what we are today.
We have now inhabited every single inch of the earth. We’ve adapted to the degree necessary. Sherpas have adapted to living at the highest altitudes on earth. Certain Pacific Island cultures have learned how to dive freely eighty feet underwater and stay there for up to four minutes hunting for food. And here we are, masters of earthly adaptation and survival.
We are not turning into swine and retrograding as my friend thinks. Neither are we going to stay the same as I suggested. Rather, we are now engaging in many experiments in a new round of adaptations in order to determine how we will best evolve, and what that will look like.
You and I are on the cutting edge of verifying or overthrowing Aldous Huxley’s great dystopian novel Brave New World (1932). All I can say is, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.