7 Ways Modern Technology May Be Affecting Human Evolution
It took millions of years and countless genetic mutations for the earliest homo sapiens to eventually morph into what we look like today, and we owe a lot of the most significant changes—including why we developed a bigger brain—to early pre-humans' development of tools and "technology." So how exactly is modern tech shaping how people of the future will look and behave?
We rounded up seven potential consequences of our relatively comfortable reality. Just a heads up: you may want to rethink how many touch screens you use.
1. Our immune system will be weakerWith our continued dependence on medication for survival, combined with whatever prophylactic methods to prolong good health are forthcoming, our immune systems will be less equipped to handle disease on its own.
2. Our memory capacity will be diminishedNow that there's a wealth of knowledge literally at our fingertips, there's less of a burden for us to store or retain as much information as we once did. In fact, some research suggests that it's already begun—the memories of young people today are worse than their parents' were at their age.
3. There will be a hierarchy of genetically modified peopleOur achievements in medicine and technology have made it possible for humans to survive all manner of genetic mutations (disease, defects, etc.) that natural selection would have otherwise killed off. Instead we've entered a period that scientists refer to as "unnatural selection," in which we're at the helm, modifying what we see fit.
As advances in genetic engineering continue, it will be possible for parents to select for nearly every element of their unborn child, from bone structure to musculature, which could eventually lead to a Gattaca-esque divide between those with the resources to afford such visually striking and physically capable offspring, and those who cannot.
4. We'll grow squid-like tentaclesSome scientists speculate that our increased interactions with touch screens could radically change the look of our hands. Rather than hard-knuckled fingers, we could eventually develop long, flowing, tentacle-like digits to make it easier and more efficient to tap, tap, tap away.
5. We'll live foreverIf Google's resident futurist Ray Kurzweil is correct, we will eventually have the ability to upload our brains to the cloud, essentially preserving our minds as a form of software for eternity. It sounds like some outlandish sci-fi conceit, but Kurzweil and other qualified geniuses are predicting we'll be able to do it by the end of this century.
6. Our muscles will atrophyAs we settle into an even more sedentary lifestyle, our muscles will adjust accordingly and we'll enter into a Wall-E-esque reality, less equipped to build bigger and stronger bodies, and crippled by weakness. After all, it's happened before.
7. We'll become obsoleteIt's no secret that artificial intelligence could end up being very, very bad for humanity, but it's unsettling once you realize that the world's most esteemed thinkers—including Stephen Hawking—consider an AI takeover practically a foregone conclusion. If we're not careful about how much we entrust our technology to do, it will undoubtedly grow smart enough to realize that us humans are no longer necessary.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and moderately terrified of what an online version of his brain might look like.
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