There was a good little talk on Big Think this week by Dr. Michio Kaku stating that “gross evolution” of the human species has stopped.
I’ve argued this for decades. Many people have a faulty understanding of evolution brought about by old Science Fiction films in which scientists invent special rays which are aimed at people to make them evolve millions of years in 5 minutes.
This is impossible. Why is it impossible? Evolution is often described as survival of the fittest. Fittest in this context does not mean strongest or most healthy. It means fit for the environment. If planet earth becomes infested by creatures which can run at 20 miles an hour and eat people then anyone who can run at 30 miles an hour has a better chance of surviving and a few years down the line it is their ancestors who will inhabit the planet.
However, if the human race unleash a nuclear holocaust and the only creatures capable of surviving are cockroaches then the creatures inhabiting the planet in decades to come will be descended from cockroaches. The human race will be dead but that’s evolution.
So evolution is a response to events. Events such as attack by tigers or mass extinction caused by radioactivity. Without those events evolution does not take place so it is just not possible to accelerate evolution without being able to replay the whole of future history in its entirety. I say in its entirety because for all we know a bunch of aliens will land in two weeks time and infect all the people with blue eyes with some deadly decease. To accelerate evolution you need to build those aliens in to the accelerated history.
Dr. Kaku argues that gross evolution has stopped because, at least in Western society, people do not die because they are weak, or short or stupid. And come to think of it, they do not die because they are strong, or tall or intelligent either.
Dr. Kaku admits that non gross evolution is taking place and one has to wonder whether it is possible that multiple strands of humanity might emerge. This might be caused by rich/poor divisions. The poor growing progressively smaller as they eat less well, or perhaps fatter as they sit in front of the TV eating chips all day.
I wonder if the real evolution that is taking place is not so much physical but psychological. Those that excel in our society must be mentally equipped to work in factory style offices. To work within mindless bureaucracy and maintain enthusiasm despite overwhelming evidence that nothing they do or say makes any difference. They must be capable of having their smallest action defined as a process to be standardised and rolled out globally.
Rather than large brained skinny people we are evolving into a planet of automata. When the aliens do finally invade we wont know what to do because there will be no process for it.