14 thoughts on “The Future Of Human Evolution”

  1. I think we’ll be surprised for a while how hard it is to create a real net benefit. Evolution is a pretty good multi-variate optimizer. Consider the Ashkenazim, who have a great number of geniuses among their population but at the cost of a slew of brain related diseases such as Tay-Sachs.

  2. I’m pretty sure that, since the vast majority of people have little to no desire or ability to use IVF and genetic engineering during reproduction (and a significant number of people give no thought to the fact that their actions can even LEAD to reproduction), I doubt that the general average population of the world will really look that much different in 20-30 years.

    Sure, there might be a sub-set of type-A over-achievers who believe that genetic engineering is the key to having successful children, but I think that the desire to and access to such technology is VASTLY over-stated, or implied by the article. That small sub-set / large clique of people will just continue to inbreed with their “own kind” the same way they have been for generations, and not much will change on the whole across the face of the planet (no pun intended).

  3. Evolution is a pretty good multi-variate optimizer. So much so that there’s a field of computer programing devoted to ‘Evolutionary Programing.’ The nice part: It’s embarassingly parallel. The not so nice part: It results in (functional!) programs that too obfuscated for humans to reasonably decypher when applied to serious problems.

  4. Evolution is kind of a fundamental physical law of the universe, it will not stop just because people get smart. If new frontiers open up, evolutionary success may increasingly be measured by how many viable offspring one has – not by not dying.

    If some people can go AI, with the capacity to copy intelligence and replicate, I doubt they would go back. If AI can be better miniaturized than the human brain – use less resources for a given level of intelligence, then presumably such forms will be chosen. Though I do wonder if a Moore’s law for wetware is possible – that would be interesting.

  5. I’m thinking wings on a low gravity world.

    How about solar sail/panel, high ISP rocket engine and the capacity to eat asteroids?

  6. This is like one of those 1950s sf stories exploring the consequences of immortality. You leap right past the Big Problems to ask yourself what you’d do with the solutions. It’s good fiction, but I don’t think it’s relevant to our universe.

    Here, we can’t even agree on a robust definition of “intelligence” or “beauty” or “loyalty.” Even given theoretically infinitely precise information on what gene does what, how could we hope to map that “engineering” information into these alleged “marketing objectives?” I don’t think it can be done.

    That is, suppose a parent comes into the genetic engineer and says I want one beautiful daughter and one talented, creative son. How can the engineer translate those goals into specific genes to activate or turn off, or even specific bodily or mental characteristics? I don’t think he could. The best we’ll ever be able to do is specific things like height or eye color, which are too trivial to be worth the cost, I suspect, or things like no genetic predisposition to cancer, heart disease or diabetes, which would be very nice indeed and boringly uncontroversial.

  7. I think we will need to genetically engineer a monkey-human for interstellar space travel. Extra points if their neck can stretch and the heart cockles glow red.

  8. I’m a mutant. I also work on genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation. I’m doing a PhD in that at the moment.

    The mutation (or combination of them – we’re really not sure) appears to be a mixed bag. Fertility is definitely compromised. Neurology appears advantageous from a group’s viewpoint, though not necessarily from an individual’s.

    It’s possible I may be immune to such things as HiV, Ebola, the Black death an a few others, but there’s a 2/3 chance I’m not, and I don’t wish to try the experiment. (CCR-25A mutation).

    I’m able to tolerate a ridiculous amount of harmful low-density cholesterol in my system – enough to ensure death by age 20 in most people – but it’s still not real healthy. (Possible Milano-A mutation or something similar) My whole cholesterol->testosterone->estrogen cycle is “atypical” to say the least.

    In 1985 I was diagnosed as a mildly Intersexed male, with a mild form of androgen insensitivity. Basically, I had normal male levels of testosterone, but the cells in my body appeared to be somewhat insensitive to the stuff. I didn’t have a complete male puberty.

    In 2005 my system went haywire, I lost 1/3 of my body mass in 3 months, and my endocrinology switched from male to female. As did my appearance, far too fast for health. Fortunately, I was Transsexual (ie female neuro-anatomy) so it was a massive relief, although very disorientating, as you can imagine. I took a lot of convincing that I wasn’t psychotic, imagining it all. That seemed to me the most likely rational explanation. But the diagnosis was changed to “severe androgenisation of a non-pregnant woman”, and I’m having treatment on that basis.

    I’ve since found out there’s far more genetic oddities in humans than is commonly believed. Stuff can happen that I had no idea was possible, including (apparent) natural sex changes.

    Bottom line: The human genome contains a lot of possibilities, mostly unpleasant, but some a mixed curse, and possibly a few which are of unalloyed benefit.

    Enforcement of societal norms has both decreased the number of mutations (via infanticide, “persecution of freaks” etc) and increased them by driving them underground so few realise just how many there are. For example, 1 person in 60 is not quite stereotypically either male or female anatomically.

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