|“What impact will new technologies have on human evolution?”|
Click to enlarge. If you dare.
It also shows the difference between art and science. Or, at least, between art and bad science.
Evolution is one of the most misunderstood sciences of all, and you can blame it all on France as well. Specifically one Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a biologist who predated Charles Darwin, and who believed in something called "soft inheritance" — that organisms could pass on acquired traits to their offspring. The classic example of this is the (seemingly-logical) theory that giraffes grew such long necks because they kept reaching up for higher leaves.
Evolution, however, does not work that way. It happens through millions of random genetic mutations, most of which get weeded out by natural and sexual selection. Those that make it through typically (but not always) seem, in hindsight, to be designed for their environmental niche. In reality, their mutant ancestors just happened to do a little better there.
The Lamarkian fallacy seems to come naturally to human beings. Evolved, ourselves, to guess the motives of other self-aware humans, we mistakenly infer intelligence and will in things and processes that have none.
Nobody is immune. How often do you hear phrases like "my computer hates me" or "my car just won't cooperate"? We may be half-joking when we say these things, but superstition is current and real, even among otherwise skeptical people.
That's why most people misunderstand evolution. A friend of mine recently posted, jokingly, on Facebook a comment about whether current grooming preferences against pubic hair would eventually lead to hairless humans. This ad says essentially the same thing — that whatever changes technology is introducing into our lifestyle now will change our physical being.
Don't worry. It won't. Although a few technologies have changed us. The invention of shoes, between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago, changed the shape of our feet. Domesticating and milking cows lead to lactose tolerance, independently, in two different Eurasian and African populations.
But these were artificial changes to the human environment that were long-term and consistent, allowing blind old evolution to eventually stumble its way into the niches they created. At today's pace of technological change, how could we possibly adapt — over scores of generations — to something as fleeting as an iPad or a 3D TV?
Stick with the art, CHRONIC'ART. There are enough people talking shit about science already. You are not helping.
Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, but I play one on social media.