Had a rather impassioned debate with Amanda this evening on the subject of whether we, humans as a species, are still evolving biologically. Or even whether or not we need to. I was arguing that the human race might very well be stagnating or reaching ( or have even reached ) an evolutionary impasse due to the fact that we aren’t being forced to adapt to our environment anymore. Humans are unique as a species in that we are able to change the environment around us (even destroy it) … critically though we are no longer forced, at a biological level, to adapt to it. I was also suggesting that we are evolving culturally and technologically and that we can see that certain pockets of humanity suffer more than others because of the rate at which they can absorb or adapt to cultural and especially technological advances.
Amanda was making the point that the advent of agriculture, arguably our first and most important technological advancement, might very well have been the point at which we no longer needed to adapt to survive in our environment. I’m no anthropologist but it certainly sounds reasonable. I said I was going to read a bit around the topic and try and rationalise my thoughts into a blog posting … as part of that I came cross this short piece by Marc West. I’m probably biased because, as Amanda will no doubt suggest, Marc makes almost exactly the same points I was except he does it much better than I did – even the notion that our biological evolution may very well be defined by some convergence between our biological bodies and technological enhancements – or as I put it to Amanda … the cyberisation of the human species.
It’s well worth reading Marc’s posting and the podcast and panel discussion he links to … it’s amusing because some of the ideas do seem far fetched but it’s still interesting and insightful.