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  1. #1
    Ginkgo
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    Exclamation The Future of Humanity

    By Alan Boyle (not me)

    Scientists are fond of running the evolutionary clock backward, using DNA analysis and the fossil record to figure out when our ancestors stood erect and split off from the rest of the primate evolutionary tree.

    But the clock is running forward as well. So where are humans headed?

    Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says it's the question he's most often asked, and "a question that any prudent evolutionist will evade." But the question is being raised even more frequently as researchers study our past and contemplate our future.

    Paleontologists say that anatomically modern humans may have at one time shared the Earth with as many as three other closely related types Neanderthals, Homo erectus and the dwarf hominids whose remains were discovered last year in Indonesia.

    Does evolutionary theory allow for circumstances in which "spin-off" human species could develop again?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some think the rapid rise of genetic modification could be just such a circumstance. Others believe we could blend ourselves with machines in unprecedented ways turning natural-born humans into an endangered species.

    Present-day fact, not science fiction
    Such ideas may sound like little more than science-fiction plot lines. But trend-watchers point out that we're already wrestling with real-world aspects of future human development, ranging from stem-cell research to the implantation of biocompatible computer chips. The debates are likely to become increasingly divisive once all the scientific implications sink in.

    "These issues touch upon religion, upon politics, upon values," said Gregory Stock, director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and Society at the University of California at Los Angeles. "This is about our vision of the future, essentially, and we'll never completely agree about those things."

    The problem is, scientists can't predict with precision how our species will adapt to changes over the next millennium, let alone the next million years. That's why Dawkins believes it's imprudent to make a prediction in the first place.

    Others see it differently: In the book "Future Evolution," University of Washington paleontologist Peter Ward argues that we are making ourselves virtually extinction-proof by bending Earth's flora and fauna to our will. And assuming that the human species will be hanging around for at least another 500 million years, Ward and others believe there are a few most likely scenarios for the future, based on a reading of past evolutionary episodes and current trends.

    Where are humans headed? Here's an imprudent assessment of five possible paths, ranging from homogenized humans to alien-looking hybrids bred for interstellar travel.
    Taken from here.

    This topic has plagued my mind for quite some time. I have read from various sources that the human race is bound to evolve larger brain cases; thus developing a wider female pelvis in order to give birth. To cope with these changes, it will become quadrupedal.

    Other sources indicate that it is possible for us to enhance our bionic technologies, thereby enabling us to become immortalized by machinery. However, this is dangerous because it will introduce more complexity to our intricate physiological systems; destabilizing and complicating our inner workings. After all, our bodies are conglomerates of prior biological systems building upon each other as a result of evolutionary processes. To introduce a mechanized element would change the dynamics of these systems in an entropic manner.

    The safest and most productive scenario for the human race would be to provide itself with an intellectually stimulating environment in order to enrich its cognitive learning capacity.

  2. #2
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    "Extinction-proof"

    Lol the arrogance.

    I think biological evolution (without genetic engineering) has ground to a halt for us, or perhaps even gone backwards, so it's got to be technological evolution.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

    Quinlan's Creations

  3. #3
    Ginkgo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    "Extinction-proof"

    Lol the arrogance.

    I think biological evolution (without genetic engineering) has ground to a halt for us, or perhaps even gone backwards, so it's got to be technological evolution.
    Yes, the phrase "extinction-proof" doesn't make any sense because we will inevitably either evolve into another species or die out. Either way, our current species will become extinct.

    However, evolution does not "go backwards". It only goes forwards. I think what you mean to say is that we are at the pinnacle of our intellectual abilities; therefore we will evolve into lesser intelligent species. Am I correct?

  4. #4
    . Blank's Avatar
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    ...Wouldn't it make more sense to become rounder?

    So isn't the fattening of the Western world making evolutionary sense...barring the mental retardation and laziness that comes with it?
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  5. #5
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    However, evolution does not "go backwards". It only goes forwards. I think what you mean to say is that we are at the pinnacle of our intellectual abilities; therefore we will evolve into lesser intelligent species. Am I correct?
    Yes of course you're right, poor choice of words there. I don't know if we will become less intelligent as a species, I think our technological power is growing at a far greater rate our ability to wield it responsibly is.

    I kind of agree with Dawkins so much could change, even a short time in the future it's a waste of time trying to predict it.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

    Quinlan's Creations

  6. #6
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    I don't think evolution really matters for humanity at this point. Cultural and technological changes have a far greater impact on our lives than genetic changes do.
    My wife and I made a game to teach kids about nutrition. Please try our game and vote for us to win. (Voting period: July 14 - August 14)
    http://www.revoltingvegetables.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hexis's Avatar
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    Mmmm the smell of playing god in the morning.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I don't think evolution really matters for humanity at this point. Cultural and technological changes have a far greater impact on our lives than genetic changes do.
    And come on, what wouldnt you give for venom?!
    SDMF

  8. #8
    Charting a course
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    *sniff*

    I thought someone brought a skunk into the building...

  9. #9
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hexis View Post
    Mmmm the smell of playing god in the morning.



    And come on, what wouldnt you give for venom?!
    I have been told that while a normal human has 23 pairs of chromosomes, Chuck Norris has 72 pairs of chromosomes, and they are poisonous.
    My wife and I made a game to teach kids about nutrition. Please try our game and vote for us to win. (Voting period: July 14 - August 14)
    http://www.revoltingvegetables.com

  10. #10
    Ginkgo
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I don't think evolution really matters for humanity at this point. Cultural and technological changes have a far greater impact on our lives than genetic changes do.
    Why? Cultural and technological changes are intertwined with our environment. Thus, they effect our evolutionary patterns.

    For instance, our rapid increase in medical technologies provide a way for "inferior" genes to survive when they normally wouldn't. Furthermore, our transportation systems allow humans from different gene pools to interbreed transcontinentally.

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