Re: Further Evolution beyond the Human?

Martin Dann (
Sat, 5 Oct 1996 20:23:58 +0100

In article <>, Brian Davison
<> writes
>I have an interesting theory on evolution to consider. It seems most
>likely that the natural process of evolution is finished, and mankind is
>the final product of that evolution. So the question remains, what
>comes next?
I think your first premise is flawed. First, why should you think that
the 'natural process of evolution is finished'? You are basing that on a
view of mankind limited by recorded history - a millisecond in
evolutionary terms. It may well be that civilisation as we know it
collapses, but don't underestimate the survivability of homo sapiens!
Second, who says the process of evolution will continue to be natural?
We already have the knowledge to tinker with genetics. A shift in moral
thinking, and master race here we come!
>Is mankind destined to live until the end of the Earth, the final and
>most advanced product of our planet?

Not necessarily. Do you believe in predestination then? I'm not sure I
> It seems unlikely, humans after
>all have only occupied the planet for a fraction of its history. We
>also seem to have this urge of self-destruction, the results of which
>are now being played out before us. Instead of becoming extinct through
>an outside event like the Dinosaurs (if they were indeed killed off by a
>meteorite) the human race would probably destroy itself.
You are a bit of a pessimist Brian. You may be right, but recent events
and trends suggest that more people are becoming aware of the risks. I
still think you underestimate the cunning and survivability of
>If you accept this, the question becomes- was this self-destructive urge
>in built? Was it part of the evolutionary `program' so that eventually
>we would die out in preperation for the next step? Now what would this
>next step become?

I don't think you can sensibly argue that self distruction is 'part of
the evolutionary program'. I don't really understand what you mean by
'evolutionary program' anyway. Are we back to predestination?
>If you can allow me to delve into this a little bit, and I hope you will
>not think this is going too far into the realm of science fiction, the
>next step could be silicon based life forms instead of carbon based life
>forms as human beings are. In other words (at least regarding the
>current standards of technology) electronic, or computer life forms.
I'm sorry, but I do think you are now in the realms of science fiction.
>This is not as far fetched as you may believe, if you accept that the
>human brain is very similar to a computer
One major difference you overlook is that the brain is part of an
organic entity. If you were arguing that we may one day develop organic
computers, you might have a stronger point, but the idea of silicon life
forms is, IMO, firmly in the realms of sci fi.
>As everybody on the internet is surely aware of, computer development is
>advancing at a phenemonal rate, perhaps faster than any other technology
>in history. It is surely not too far into the future that we can
>develop computers which approach the complexity of the human brain and
>are `self-aware'.
And there you have the answer: "*we*....develop". These machines will be
what *we* make them. I am still optimistic enough to believe that we are
not so stupid that we would develop computers over which we did not have
total control. What are they going to do? suddenly grow arms and legs
behind our backs, develop weapons and blast us all off the face of the
earth? Sci fi! (Which I enjoy as much as anyone - but as *fiction*!).
> A computer with the
>complexity of the human brain, able to think intelligently, with the
>ability to process data at levels way faster than humans can comprehend,
>would obviously dwarf the human race! (shades of The Terminator here).
Doesn't follow. How would it 'dwarf' us? Would it be like "Poltergeist":
would we be sucked into our monitors by this superior intelligence? Sci
>I watched a very interesting documentary the other night, and a computer
>designer was speculating the possiblities of simulating the evolutionary
>process on a computer. An intelligent computer, could undergo the
>natural selection (the method of choosing the best characteristics to
>ensure the best chance of survival and efficiency) process in a time
>period phenomanally faster than the evolution of the human race! And
>the human race evolved very rapidly, compared to the development of life

How? How would it reproduce itself? The key to successful evolution is
sex. How will computers manage this? (Can I watch ;-))
>So if this scenario is to be accepted, human beings would only become
>another link in the evolutionary path, the end product of natural
>evolution, but responsible for kicking off the next evolutionary period.
Wouldn't that be something new? Is there any evidence that one species
becoming extinct 'kicks off' the 'next evolutionary period?
>Of course I am not proclaiming that this is definately going to happen,
>but it is interesting to speculate on the possibilities.....
Well, there we agree. Always interesting to speculate about
possibilities - providing we don't take it _too_ seriously :).

Martin Dann