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Opinion

What went wrong with human evolution

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September 18, 2008

What went wrong with human evolution? A coworker of mine recently wore a shirt with this same title, and it really got me thinking. The shirt illustrated the evolution from monkey to man with a man standing tall and holding a spear at the apex of the chain to the downward spiral to the modern day man hunched over at his computer desk.

Today it is hard to imagine humankind without our technology. One may even pose the question: Is it technology that makes us human? Without the capacity to demonstrate our technological advancements it would be a feat in and of itself to prove our superiority to the rest of life on Earth. It is true – some believe that due to technology, evolution has slowed down to a snail’s pace, or even has stopped entirely. Humans, however, are constantly improving technology and are not only creating technology to fit our needs, but are adapting our own needs to changes in technology.

Just look at your average geek – each new generation of computer hardware or other technophilia results in a change in his or her lifestyle. With every new generation of technology, interfaces becomes more streamlined and simplified. Look at the iPhone. Ten years ago people were still using the Walkman, and now we have a small piece of technology that can store thousands of files, make calls and connect to the Internet all using a pretty LCD touch screen.

To the arduous observer it may seem that over time humans will outgrow the need for physical interaction with our technology and we will “evolve,” or perhaps “adapt” is a better word, the technology to interface our minds directly with technology. To some this may seem like a farfetched idea. However, this technology was developed as early as the 1970s and followed by human experimentation in the 1990s. Today we have various companies developing real applications for technology such as the EMOTIV Epoc, a headset which detects conscious thought, expressions and subliminal emotions based on electrical signals from the brain.

It is only a matter of time before our physical realities become uncomfortable and obsolete. A future where people upload the entire network of their neural pathways onto a computer and become sheer data structures, constantly adding and removing information from our web of non-physical reality, cannot be too far off. Imagine an Earth desolate and without life thanks to all of mankind’s advancements, where the vast majority of what was once humanity is now stored on immense servers loaded with human personalities and histories, all interfacing with each other directly through our newfound consciousness and reality. The remnants of what was once humanity will maintain the servers the way religious folk today maintain the rites of their gods.

Humanity will be an archive of history and information, always exploring and searching for new information.

Of course, this is all assuming the Chinese don’t cure cancer with a gong, or a rampant zombie super virus breaks out, or even that we rain nuclear holocaust from the heavens onto ourselves.

<b>Zach Hauser</b> is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.