(warning: radical opinion stated)

Humans have reached the end of the evolution process. We all know how evolution works, right? The most genetically fit to survive (because of specialized adaptations) will do so and will breed the most, passing on the genetic trait that let them survive to their descendents.

Unfortunately, once humans reached the technological level that enabled them to control their environment, evolution has been halted.

Our technology allows us to provide a safe haven for people whose genetics would not have normally allowed them to survive. The news is filled with examples of this. From folks with serious disabilities to those who have no or little positive traits, we are allowing them to meet, breed and pass on their genetic structure.

This is against the laws of nature. Nature has decreed that only the fit should survive. How else does a species evolve? It doesn’t. And we don’t. Sure there may be some random positive mutations that persist, but there are also vastly negative ones that will survive too.

Nature never intended for the flawed to continue. We are now working in direct opposition to the rules of species evolution.

So, we have two basic (and very difficult) paths we must take:

  • Conscious genetic manipulation of our children. By filtering out genetic flaws, even by adding new traits and such, we can continue to let our species evolve. Our recent influx of genetics work lends itself to this solution. In fact, this is my preferred choice (as the other is too difficult to implement). Everyone is afraid of genetic engineering of humans; and rightfully so due to the potential for disaster. But this is where it will start: people will begin to cleanse their children of obvious genetic mistakes (genetic diseases, etc.). Then it will progress to bringing everyone up to some average level of quality. Finally some individual (or company) will allow the enhancement of various traits (eyesight, hearing, things like that). Once that barrier of improvement has been broken, the genie is out of the bottle forever. We will increase of immune system, our regenerative abilities, and hopefully extend our life spans.
  • Licensing to breed. I don’t even want to think about the difficulty in implementing this. This would require some government body to make judgments on who is fit and who is not; and I simply do not trust any council to make this decision for me. Nor do I expect I ever will.

Evolution is dead. We need to do something. Otherwise we are destined to stagnate and grow obsolete. Since nature is now incapable of her own regulation, we must take this into our own hands and determine the course of our own development.


Addendum

Perhaps evolution will proceed as in Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio book: making large, 1-generational leaps.

I don't think evolution is necessarily dead for humans. The fossil record suggests that evolution is helped along by various catastophes that cull out the unfit species. For example, if we manage to destroy the ozone layer before we figure out how to induce melanin production, we'll quickly lose most of our white people in a generation or two.

And what's so bad about not evolving any more? Alligators, Horshoe crabs, sharks, cockroaches and ferns are pretty much unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs, and they're still doing fine.

Repeat after me:

  1. Evolution is not Capitalist.
  2. Evolution is not Socialist.
  3. Evolution is not Deist.
  4. Evolution is not Self-perfecting.
A small but important point.

Evolution is not necessarily `hardware specific', i.e. there is nothing in classical darwinism that binds the adaptive mechanism to DNA or even biology. That was just the instance demanding explanation.

Everything evolves. As well as the ubiquitious memes, there are everything from economies, societies, operating systems to immune systems. And not just in a metaphorical sense. See transhumanism for radical speculation.

Where this leaves us shielded DNA vehicles I don't know. We'll start by identifying and repairing very obvious and clear-cut genetic disorders (e.g. cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria). After that it gets tricky. Cure myopia? Why not? Obesity? Guess so. Acne? Umm.. Height? Wonky teeth? Depression..? What about all those depressed poets and artists?

This is going to be the hardest thing, i.e. where to draw the line. See Gattaca for a vivid illustration of this.

A `perfect' race of super-intelligent, beautiful, healthy clones will never exist because anyone with any intelligence at all will realise that this scenario would resemble hell, or at least Sweden. Such a lack of diversity would make our DNA brittle and our Culture and Life incredibly weak, bland and hideously boring.

Evolution is not dead: it's just shifting it's focus.

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