Friday, September 24, 2010
The Microevolution of the Human Species in Today's World
"What you're looking at here are three strains: biological; anthropological, development of cities- cultures; and cultural, which is human expression. What you've seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And, in addition, if you look at the time scale that's involved here: two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, a hundred thousand years for mankind as we know it; you're beginning to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then when you get to agriculture, when you get to the scientific revolution, and the industrial revolution- you're looking at ten thousand years, four hundred years, a hundred fifty years; you're seeing a photo-telescoping of this evolutionary time.
What that means is that as we go to through the new evolution it's gonna telescope to the point we should be able to see it manifest itself within our lifetime, within the generation.
The new evolution stems from information and it stems from two types of information: digital and analog. The digital is artificial intelligence, the analog results from molecular biology, the cloning of the organism and you knit the two together with neurobiology.
Before on the old evolutionary paradigm, one would die and the other would grow and dominate. But on the new paradigm, they would exist as a mutually supportive, non-competitive grouping- independent from the external. And what is interesting here, is that evolution now becomes an individually centered process emanating from the needs and the desires of the individual and not an external process, a passive process where the individual is just at the whim of the collective.
So you produce a neo-human, with new individuality and new consciousness . But that's only the beginning of the evolutionary cycle. Because as the next cycle proceeds the input is now this new intelligence. As intelligence piles on intelligence as ability piles on ability, the speed changes. Until what? Until you reach a crescendo. In a way it could be imagined as an almost instantaneous fulfillment of human and neo-human potential.
It could be something totally different it could be the amplification of the individual. The multiplication of individual existences: parallel existences, now with the individual no longer restricted by time and space. The manifestations of this neo-human-type evolution, the manifestations could be dramatically culturally-intuitive, that's the interesting part.
The old evolution is cold, it's sterile, it's efficient. And it's manifestation of those social adaptations. We're talking about parasitism dominance morality, war, predation. These would be subject to de-emphasis, these would be subject to de-evolution. The new evolutionary paradigm would give us the the human traits of truth, of loyalty, of justice, of freedom- these would be manifestations of the new evolution and that is what we would hope to see from this. That would be nice."
-Waking Life, painstakingly transcribed right now, for this specific post.
Wait, wait- what the hell was all that up there? Neo-humans? Certain traits are emphasized and others are not in personality? But how can mutually beneficial actions cause evolution, if evolution is caused by natural selection? The point of this article, is that as humans domesticate the world around them, we put a stop to the necessity of genetic evolution, and we instead evolve our perception and conception of knowledge and the world. As we each become self-aware and choose to evolve, the evolution of the individual is what allows for the evolution of the species. We suddenly cease to become the conscious organism that is slave to the evolution of it's cells and components- but we are the new building blocks of humanity that work together to evolve their species as a collective force of will. The ideas that survive and allow for the happiest lives and those that are the most conducive to the advancement of knowledge and the species would continue to advance in spite of a human life that may not pass on its genetics. The genes in this evolution are therefore replaced with bits of information that advance to the next generation which discovers a superior truth.
But how can evolution be caused by ideas when so much of the world is subjective? It strikes one as impossible. One idea can't possibly beat out another when our interpretation of the two ideas is entirely subjective. But consider this:
Sam Harris on subjective morality
Although it strikes us as easier to consider that no view can said to be objectively better than another, we must consider the ramifications of this assertion. To say that there is no moral objectivity is to state that Ghandi and Charles Manson are on the same moral level- but with different subjective moral legislation. So then can we state that some is objective and other subjective? No, for this creates a line in the sand that is less productive than accepting all alternatives to be equally satisfactory to their answer of morality. The second that you admit that one is definitively better than another, we must admit that this creates a relativism that can be extrapolated to organize all our ideas on morality.
Though many would not agree with my previous statement, we can examine various general life philosophies and their moral ramifications on a life experienced with these moral parameters. Let's take the man who lives by the old evolutionary paradigm- the man who takes all that he can. Though this man can quickly rise to the top, what is most likely is that his reputation of a man who cannot be trusted will alienate him from the rest of the population. People gain the knowledge "do not trust this man" and his opportunity for advancement slows to a stop. Consider the hedonist who removes himself from most of society to enjoy the simple pleasures in life; whether it's drugs, it's sex, or it's any sort of pleasure so temporary that it will stop once you stop actively performing the action. This seems like a potentially great life. But people and things are fleeting and so is their happiness. Is there a way we can reach a more enriched and enlightened happiness which helps us advance as a species? Let us consider the life led with truth, loyalty, justice and freedom. We consider that truth allows us to maintain trust with the world around us. This allows us a more certain communication. Loyalty allows us to work with the same people in the same environment and prevent closing off opportunities in the future. Justice allows for a collective insurance. If we maintain a system that upholds justice, it benefits everyone, as everyone might someday be falsely accused of a crime. If a crime cannot be proven without a shadow of a doubt, an acquittal- this modus operandi seems to be an inefficient path towards justice. But it in fact is its most important component. The government is not to ensure that vengeance is given to those who were victimized, but to ensure that a criminal is justly convicted of a crime. If the innocent can be found guilty than there is no justice in the justice system and there is no incentive to be good, because one could be just as easily be thrown in jail if they retain their innocence through an unfortunate and coincidental process. But what of freedom?
Within freedom lies possibility. When we pursue freedom, what should be stated in the new evolution paradigm shifts is that the goal of our pursuits shift from one of more negative freedom (a world in which we want as few constraints as possible), to positive freedom (a world in which we are capable of any action). Well if we are pursuing morality and micro-evolution is occurring, than why is it that in this age of technology, we are not all evolving? Information is being thrown at us and we have the world at our fingertips. So why are so many people still so stupid?
"The most advanced technologies and craftsmanship bring us, at best, up to the super-chimpanzee level. Actually, the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human. The realm of the real spirit, the true artist, the saint, the philosopher- is rarely achieved. Why so few? Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress, but rather this endless and futile addition of zeros. No greater values have developed. Hell, the Greeks three-thousand years ago were just as advanced as we are. So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their full potential?
The answer to that can be found in another question and that's this:
Which is the most universal characteristic: fear or laziness?"
-Waking Life, seriously someone should just put the script online (I bet it already is and I just can't find it)
It is not the idea that we prefer living a decent hedonistic life to the best possible life we could work towards achieving. But, it is the idea that we are satisfied with the mediocre. We accept the concept that we can exist without purpose. So how then do we advance? How then do we find the motivation to evolve? It can only be caused by the quintessential fear of our death. The end to an identity. This leads to a questioning of purpose. If everything I do will someday be forgotten by all of humanity, then what is the point? In fact, if humanity will someday perish and the universe will end, what is the point of humanity? Perhaps the point of humanity is to glorify God? But then what, we were all created to worship a narcissistic God, who is necessarily narcissistic because he is everything and he must love everything because He's God? So then is narcissism a virtue? Or is it only a virtue if you are God? Is pride, then, a virtue? The answer to this lies in the difference between two concepts that can be exemplified by contrast of the following words: confidence versus cockiness. The former being something justified and beneficial, the latter being unjustified and derogatory. So then, we must seek to be the best and pride ourselves when we have found purpose. But then what is the purpose of my life? That is the question I have been asking this whole time. The purpose of my life must be to be happy. If I was happy I would have never asked the purpose of my life. When I asked "what is my purpose?" I was truly asking "How can I be happy when my life seems to be so meaningless with all of the knowledge that I've obtained." So then, once informed to a point of a constant dissatisfaction, we discover meaning. To be happy is to live.
So then we approach the question of how to live the happiest life. How do I live the best life? The most pleasant moments examined and assessed. To be the winner of the super bowl, to carry your true love across the threshold, to live the happiest moment is to reach the most difficult goals that we have committed ourselves to and worked for throughout the entirety of our lives. But is it just commitment that benefits us? If I decide to become the best cello player int he world and commit until I have achieved my goal, is that acceptable? Am I happy? Well, did I want to become the best cello player or did I just set an arbitrary goal? So then what separates these two possible options? Passion. So then to be happy is to be passionately committed. Is it that simple? What are the disadvantages of being committed to a passion? Failure can often be the cruelest thing. The most unhappy of a time, failure is the death of a dream. So then how can we avoid this despair and still achieve the happiness we are capable of achieving. Failure is unavoidable if you are to ever succeed. If failure was not a possibility than victory would be meaningless. So then we can say that failure plays an important role. So there is nothing wrong with failure, actually it's what makes the world beautiful. The evil is what allows for the existence of the good. Without contrast, we lose all value of an option. If you cannot choose between various options, what is the point of existing? Living a deterministic mess? But wait- if science is correct then our lives are deterministic. When we consider the impact of this assessment we find ourselves at a paradox. If life is predictable even if we try to act unpredictable (because if we were to see our future as a prophecy and change it, it can be said it was destiny that we changed the potential future to ensure the stability of a world in which you were destined to change the outcome of prophecy- in which case the prophecy would not be a prophecy but an alternate possibility that was never intended to exist in this specific universe), then an impossibility of free will becomes pragmatically meaningless. So though free will does not exist, the appearance of freedom creates pragmatic freedom in a deterministic world that cannot see the determinism it exists as within a plane of possibility.
So once we understand these fundamental issues, we suddenly realize that in this age of technology, where we have infinite amounts of verifiable knowledge at our fingertips and we can adapt to do exactly what we wish to do. And as long as our goals and aspirations align themselves with these morals of the neo-human culture, we can see an addition and re-examination of knowledge until we have perfected a world view that will soon be taught to humans in such a way that teaches humans to evolve and to spread the micro-evolution to others to create a collective consciousness, that is now evolving itself. With a collective organization evolving rapidly as neo-humans reach their intellectual plateau, we can only assume that the species itself can then evolve until it hits its piqued potential. The startling part is that in a world of constantly compounding information that can be used to gather gradually more and more previously inaccessible information, the crescendo where human growth ceases seems to lie at the end of an ever expanding, infinite Universe.
The only other plausible option is that at some point in time this expansion will pique before we learn how to possibly gather any more knowledge than we've already obtained. This proposition of a world in which knowledge cannot be constructed a priori because any possible additional premises that we can use to build are unattainable through our limited knowledge of the Universe. But we had thought this to be possible many times before human ingenuity and previously un-applied knowledge combined forces under a few individuals to eventually discover a solution. This leads to one of three possibilities:
1. The human species will go extinct before it reaches this piqued neo-human stage.
2. The human species is very unlikely to record any artificial intelligence or apparent consciousness that is capable of surviving after resources that humans require in order to maintain their existence run dry OR that they are unlikely to make an artificial intelligence or recorded streams of consciousness that run potentially ad infinitum because they can expand continuously into the universe infinitely and that entropy will never needed to be reversed in an ever expanding Universe that expands faster than humanity can chase it's edges.
3. The human species is almost certainly a recorded simulation that exists in a computerized or otherwise virtual and artificial world that was created in the past.
To read more on these theories check this out!:
Simulation argument whaaaat!?
It's something Scott Adams blogs about often, but to pragmatically evaluate these options and their impact we must examine all three possibilities and their moral ramifications. If we are infinitely expanding than we should attempt to fulfill our potential. If option one is humanity's destiny, then we would never know it and should only try to escape this possibility as if it were avoidable. If it is option three, then we would never know it and can only try to actively pursue the goal of the Universe as it appears to us in option number two, as we cannot see the definite end of the Universe as of yet.
So then the best way that we can evolve to a crescendo to someday make our own AI; which if option three was true would still be an AI within an AI (most likely to an infinite regression until we can no longer assume that one reality might have actually existed). If there is no crescendo, then even better- we can keep evolving and improving ourselves infinitely as long as the Universe expands faster than humanity. So then we have come to the ultimate conclusion that it is most pragmatic to try to evolve to become a species that expands rapidly and transcends the individual. The only way in which we can achieve this is if we as individuals all evolve to become neo-humans whom have impeccable moral standards that allow for both individual advancement and collective advancement to occur simultaneously. These advancements only occur when people have enough knowledge to have a strong desire to pursue more knowledge. Once the regular human has had a taste of knowledge, the thirst for it becomes unquenchable. And we discover that all that stands between us and fulfilling our purpose, within society and within our own personal sense of purpose, is to stop being lazy and just grow.