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Human Evolution

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5 replies to this topic

#1
BillIrons

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In one of the predictions, it said that human evolution would produce humans with bigger brains, bigger skulls, hairless, longer arms etc. I believe that human evolution has hit a wall that will become stronger as technology improves. The definition of evolution is "a shift in gene frequencies over time resulting from internal and external stresses on a population". Evolution occurs because the environment an organism inhabits selects for and against certain traits. Organisms that do not survive do not pass on their genes, while organisms that are biologically fitter do pass on their genes. Humans are not controlled by their environment. Through medicine and improvements in agriculture just about any human can have babies and pass on their genes. Unless culture changes dramatically to the point where less hair is much more attractive, or longer limbs means a significantly larger chance to mate, humans will just not evolve any more than we have now. The only way that humans as a whole will change will be through genetic engineering.
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#2
Caiman

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Welcome to the site :) I tend to agree broadly with what you've stated here, 'survival of the fittest' is slowly but surely being eliminated from the human population now (though there is still plenty of environmental selection pressure in third world nations around the world). I think we'll go post-human before any major natural evolutionary changes occur anyway.
~Jon

#3
OrbitalResonance

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we will explode in all sorts of weird diversity

We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. - Carl Sagan


#4
Shimmy

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I agree that in third world countries evolution is more or less as it has always been but it's true that in most of the western world it has more or less stopped. I would go further to say we are genetically weakening significantly as a species. In evolution mutations that assist ability to reproduce get passed on and mutations that don't obviously can't. Now that in our western world almost all mutations can be passed on we have to consider the statistics. It should be easy to see that out of all the possible mutations there are, there are vastly more that are bad than good (imagine taking a plane and replacing one wing with a random object, chances are it's not going to fly as well after). So because of this every generation each person will on average have ever so slightly more negative genetics defaults than the previous generation. We are currently trying to counter this with medicine advances, and this is working to some extent in keeping us alive but as time goes on we will become more and more reliant on these medical technologies masking our decreasing survivability. The thing is medicine has to keep getting better for this to work, as we keep getting worse. So if we imagine a future where technology never advanced from where it was now, we would notice after many years we'd start getting terrible health and dying off. But then of course evolution would kick in again as the worst of us wouldn't survive to breed anymore, and we'd end up with this repeating cycle going on and on. But of course medical technology is advancing, so perhaps other than taking a few more pills everyday we won't notice anything. Of course if we start replacing our bodies with machines and find efficient ways to alter genetic material ourselves we would also easily get around this issue.

#5
Shimmy

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maybe also worth noting that I believe "negative" evolution can happen much faster than "positive" evolution. This again would be to do with the statistics. Positive evolution takes so long because positive mutations are so rare. But negative mutations will be happening all the time so a species should be able to deteriorate with respect to survivability in its environment many times faster than the other way round (perhaps thousands or just hundreds of years rather than millions).

#6
Caiman

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We are currently trying to counter this with medicine advances, and this is working to some extent in keeping us alive but as time goes on we will become more and more reliant on these medical technologies masking our decreasing survivability.

To be fair, we’ve been reliant on our knowledge and technology for thousands of years already- if you remove even basic medicine then life spans decrease dramatically and what we consider relatively ‘simple’ ailments become life threatening. I have no problem therefore with the fact that our technology outpaces our natural evolution, as you say we’ll probably transition to a post-human society before any ‘degradation’ we’re keeping by defying natural selection, or not performing eugenics, becomes apparent.
~Jon





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