What does the future have in store for the human race?
Evolution, as the past four billion years have repeatedly illustrated, holds an endless supply of tricks up its long and ancient sleeve. Anything is possible, given enough millennia. Inevitably the forces of natural selection will require us to branch out into differentiated versions of our current selves, like so many Galápagos finches… assuming, that is, that we have enough time to leave our evolution to our genes.
We won’t, though. Instead, we will come to an end, and rather soon. We may be the last apes standing, but we won’t be standing for long.
A startling thought, this, but all of the gears and levers of evolution indicate that when we became the symbolic creature, an animal capable of ardently transforming fired synapses into decisions, choices, art, and invention, we simultaneously caught ourselves in our own crosshairs. Because with these deft and purposeful powers, we also devised a new kind of evolution, the cultural variety, driven by creativity and invention. So began a long string of social, cultural, and technological leaps unencumbered by old biological apparatuses such as proteins and molecules. In ourselves we may finally have met our match: an evolutionary force to which even we cannot adapt.At first glance you might think that this would be a boon to our kind. How better to better our lot than with fire and wheels, steam engines, automobiles, fast food, satellites, computers, cell phones, and robots, not to mention mathematics, money, art, and literature, each conspicuously designed to reduce work and improve the quality of our lives. But it turns out not to be that simple. Improvements sometimes have unintended consequences. With the execution of every bright new idea it seems we find ourselves instantly in need of still newer solutions that only seem to make the world more complicated. We are ginning up so much change, fashioning thingamabobs, weaponry, pollutants, and complexity in general, so swiftly, that as creatures genetically bred to a planet quite recently bereft of technical and cultural convolutions, we are having an exceedingly difficult time keeping up, even though we are the agents of the very change that is throttling us. The consequence of our incessant innovating is that it has led us inevitably, paradoxically, irrevocably, to invent a world for which we are altogether ill fit. In ourselves we may finally have met our match: an evolutionary force to which even we cannot adapt.
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