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