Homo Evolutis

In Juan Enriquez’ TED talk earlier this year, he made the point that humans have entered a new phase of evolution, one that has not been seen on before modern humans and their technology.  This, of course, is one of the main theses of Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity is Near, and the main justification for the creation of The Singularity Institute (plus related Singularity Summit), and now just recently, Singularity University.

Lest you think the concept of Homo Evolutis — a species that can control its own evolutionary path by radically extend healthy human lifespan and ultimately merging with its technology — is a fringe concept share by sci-fi dreamers who don’t have a handle on reality, check out the list of people in charge of Singularity University (link above), the Board members of the Lifeboat Foundation, and throw in Stephen Hawking for good measure, who says, “Humans Have Entered a New Phase of Evolution“.  These people not only have a handle on reality, they have the combined power, resources and influence to shape reality.

For those who are still skeptical of the premise of Homo Evolutis, I present the strongest piece of evidence yet: it’s been featured on The Oprah Show.  QED?

  • danielhorowitz
  • Alex Golubev

    While I agree that there’s plenty of progress that will be made, i have a hard time accepting such a peachy outlook on things. “Survival of the fittest” has very little predictive power from what i understand. it’s not survival of the strongest or the most intelligent; in other words, we only know who was the fittest in retrospect. THUS, we have no idea what the fittest being is or could be. While we may be able to prevent disease and improve our lives considerably, i don’t think we’ll be able to predict the future and thus will be subject to nature and uncertainty as we’ve always been. On top of that, assymetrical incentives in our economic and political systems won’t be able to adjust nearly fast enough to accompany such insane technological progress. This can result in stagnation at best and frustratingly dark ages at worst. is that pessimistic enough? :)

    • marker

      darwin did not say survival of the fittest. That is a false statement. He said that animals who are sexually successful survive. Being “fittest” would not apply to hunams. Compared to other animals such as Gorrillas, we are not the fittest. In fact our bodies are actually primitive compared to them. The correct phraise from Darwin is the survival of the sexually fit. (reproductively successful.) Whith that said, our ability to reproduce was not because of environment or physical superority it was because of our ability to create technology to adapt. Thus we were able to reproduce and avert extinction. If it wrent for technology humans would have been extinct before now.

  • Alex, I’m trying to wrap my head around what you are trying to say and I can’t really figure it out :-) The post isn’t about optimism, survival of the fittest, or Darwinian evolution per se.

  • Alex Golubev

    homo evolutis. Yes we can significantly improve the quality of and prolong our lives through our own effort, but by that definition we’ve been Homo Evolutis for quite some time now.

    Merging of technology works as well. But it’s kinda like an animal finding an unlimited food supply without the accompanyign water supply increase and thinking that it’s set for an unlimited and wonderful life. I think our BRAINS wont’ be enhanced to the degree where assymetrical incentives and god know what kind of motivations for people with power WON’T create misallocations and opression. We’re not just “humans”. Civilization has a hierarchy that needs to evolve as well for quality of life to truly improve. Yes, compared to history, we seem to have come a long way, but how do we quantify how much we’re missing out on if the incentive system was somehow perfect?

    I’m not disagreeing. But bringing up the idea that we also have evolving social structures that need attention. I DO hope that the internet can bring the democratic process to more “decisions” (kinda like google), but then we still have the “free rider” problem and majority opressing the minority. This is not horrible, but i see it as a huge bottleneck for FAIRNESS of life. Kinda like the Churchill thing that i think he said “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”

  • In fact, humans entered a new phase of evolution a very long time ago, when we started passing our ideas down to future generations through oral and written language. This allowed for a process of cultural and idea evolution that is fundamentally different and much faster than genetic evolution.

    I think the shift from genetic to cultural evolution was much more significant than whatever cyber-transition the singularity folks are talking about.

  • david thurman

    kind of a wetdream of the emotionally handicaped. It falls all logic of efficency which is laughable about this.

    • Rafe Furst

      Say more, David. Your tersely cogent message is a bit cryptic to those of us who can’t make the emotional connection with what you are trying to say :-)

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