Technology, it seems like it is everywhere. Think about it, supercomputers, self-driving cars, drones, digital implants; these things were the stuff of science fiction but are now (or soon will be) commonplace. Want to go online to get insurance? Heck, so many people already check out Mercury reviews that has become part and parcel of shopping for a new policy.
In fact, the breadth and depth of ‘new’ tech has become so ingrained in our lives that you could almost say that technology is disrupting human evolution itself. But wait a minute, didn’t Darwin prove that evolution was a process that took thousands if not millions of years to play out? Or, was everything we learned in biology wrong?
Well, yes and no – at least not everything. The truth, as we all know, is more complicated than that. For starters, there is something to be said for ‘natural selection’. However, the one thing Darwin did not take into account was the impact that ‘technology’ has on the process.
Think about it, humans learned how to harness fire and created the wheel eons ago. While Darwin might not have thought of these advances as ‘technology’ they are – the same could be said for the advances that went into agriculture.
Combining these developments helped humans to climb to the top of the global food chain, except for those cases where we run into hungry sharks or lions. This is important as it begs the question of whether technology has already altered the trajectory of human evolution.
Let’s assume it has. If so, then Darwin missed this when he originally mapped out his theory of evolution. Therefore, if Darwin erred by not considering the relatively modest advances of humanity to the point of his research, they could have never foretold what is happening today.
The reason is simple, our brains are being altered by the technology we are using. You can see this when a two-year-old picks up an iPad and instinctually knows how to use it. You can also see this in how your parents or grandparents cannot work the remote for the television.
It’s more than just being a frog in hot water, the tech that is slowly overwhelming our lives is also altering our physiology. And while contemporary humans do not look markedly different from our recent ancestors, the reality is that we are changing in ways that we really won’t be able to know for hundreds of years or more.
Take, for example, the likelihood that gene editing is likely to become increasingly commonplace. While these techniques hold the promise to eradicate many childhood diseases, they can also be used – either directly or indirectly – to alter what it means to be human.
It’s not just dastardly plans to change how we look, but from even altruistic efforts such as eradicating some diseases, there could be unintended consequences. It is these consequences that may have an outsized impact on the continued evolution of humanity.
But this is just one data point and the reality is that geneticists remain decades away from coming aware close to 3D printing humans. So, what are some of the other ways that technology is changing us?
Well, it might even be something simpler in that the rise of technology is creating an environment where an increasing number of people around the world feel confused, alienated, and alarmingly, disorientated. This could lead to a period of prolonged political upheaval which in turn could lead to massive demographic shifts.
In some ways we are already starting to see this – think Trump, Bernie Sanders, and even Brexit. While it is too early to know what the long-term results of these events will be, it would appear that we are on the precipice of a major shift.
Another way that technology is disrupting human evolution is that we are tending to have children later in life than ever before. While this isn’t such a bad thing, it does point to changes in lifestyle, which increasingly means technology.
Sure, tech’s impact in procreation has been relatively limited but it’s more about tech is enabling us to make other decisions on how and when we make decisions which previous generations did well before their mid-30’s or early-40’s.
Granted Cro-Magnon humans didn’t have to deal with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt but we don’t have to worry (much) about being eaten alive. What’s changed in the equation? Well, it is technology which has continued to advance and by doing so is disrupting the course of our evolution.
Article Submitted By Community Writer