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Is Evolution Over In Humans?

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the fait-accompli dept.

Science 761

BrianGa writes: "Is evolution over? Are current humans the final version? This article presents a number of interesting theories, including the theory that 'Our species has reached its biological pinnacle and is no longer capable of changing.' Professor Steve Jones believes this, in part, because 'human populations are now being constantly mixed, again producing a blending that blocks evolutionary change.'"

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761 comments

Blending (2)

Brit Aviator (542593) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945336)

Odd, I thought it was blending, and the subsequent mixing of genes (variation) that was the basis of evolution.

Re:Blending (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945343)

Odd, I thought it was blending, and the subsequent mixing of genes (variation) that was the basis of evolution.

You also need a "survival of the fittest" rule, that's what we lost in our modern society.

Machines will take over pretty soon. Get over it.

EXACTLY MY FRIEND. (-1)

L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945377)

TOO many retards and defective people are allowed to live, and worse, breed.

While they are funny little bastards, (both the retards AND the gotards), they subtract from the stregnth of the gene pool, much as do linux users.

Re:Blending (2, Informative)

peripatetic_bum (211859) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945383)

Yes, you're right but what I think the guy was talking about is that also,

you tend to see the most extreme specialization in places where populations are cut off.

Ie, take the galapogos (spelling?) islands where Darwin first got his ideas. He noticed how specialized the birds of these islands had become, in comparison to their main-land brethen. The idea being that given a population that is isolated, certain charactistics can be more easily selected for , instead of having to try to select it out of much bigger population. Of course, the problem with this guy's (the article) opinions is that it does smak of segregation and other asty thoughts, but he should be given a fair consideration

Thanks all!

Re:Blending (0)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945408)

"human populations are now being constantly mixed, again producing a blending that blocks evolutionary change"

Who is this guy anyway?

He sounds like a perfect posterboy for the white power idiots and other morons who advocate racial segregation.

Re:Blending (3, Informative)

znu (31198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945412)

Evolution doesn't really take place in individuals. It takes place in populations. In small, isolated populations, beneficial mutations can spread quickly through the gene pool. In large populations, they tend to get lost in the noise.

Re:Blending (1)

mikeplokta (223052) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945455)

No, the exact opposite. Very large populations which don't have outlying parts that are reproductively isolated tend to be very stable. You get fast evolution, and eventually speciation, when a very small population is isolated from the rest of the species, preferably in a different environment.

Having said that, I disagree with the article, as the human species' environment has changed so radically over the past few thousand years that there must be some fairly rapid evolution going on to catch up. There are the disease resistances that others have mentioned, but more importantly resistance to recreational drugs -- alcohol was a killer to populations that hadn't had a few thousand years to develop some resistance, for example.

Genetic Engineering (5, Insightful)

Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945337)

I think with modern medicine, only *really* bad gene combinations get selected out. The only way for humans to really evolve is through genetic engineering. It's the natural progression of evolution! It is our density!

-If

Re:Genetic Engineering (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945355)

No, the only way for humans to evolve is to realize we are sentient beings and evolve around our sentience. It's the natural progression of thought!

Re:Genetic Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945366)

I'm 2HD myself.

Re:Genetic Engineering (1)

d_o_g (89052) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945378)

The thing is, if you aren't selecting out bad genes then they'll be selected in. Evolution doesn't have a direction, and it doesn't stop for anyone. Not that it isn't possible that humans are at some local maximum - like sharks, for instance. But chances are, we're going to continue the trend of evolving into dumber, sicklier creatures. We just won't notice because better medicine will keep up with or advance ahead of our own infirmities.

Re:Genetic Engineering (1)

Emil Brink (69213) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945404)

It is our density!

There's probably a joke to be made somewhere around here, but I just can't seem to come up with it. Darn.

Re:Genetic Engineering (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945440)

It is our density!

Hopefully we'll be breeding for better spelling then -- I assume you meant 'destiny'?

Or maybe it's a way of saying that all eugenicists are dense? Hmmm... I think I'm more likely to agree with that reading.

Re:Genetic Engineering (1)

Mister Snee (549894) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945444)

"Modern medicine" in this case just represents an absence of environmental pressure, which is the only real selective agent involved in "natural selection". In that sense, sure, human evolution is all but over except in the most extreme cases (genes for, say, dropping dead on your first birthday are unlikely to get passed on). This idea is basically a truism...

The fact is that humans have been affected memetically rather than genetically increasingly more so in recent centuries -- we've come to a point where we can make conscious decisions that basically override genetic predispositions towards survival and propagation (simply being capable of choosing abstinence or suicide go to show how powerful the memetic capacities we've evolved have become over our simpler genetic influences). Humanity's "evolution" from this point on has basically just switched fields -- it'll be memetic from this point. The fact is that while bad genes may not be getting weeded out so efficiently, bad ideas (ideally :P ) are. While our physical form hasn't changed much in the last few thousand years, the human pool of knowledge has -- indirectly making us better survivors by means of technology and other non-genetic interventions. We're still evolving, it's just on a higher level of abstraction -- memes -- now.

So to speak. :/

Evolution is a lie (-1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945338)

Praise Jesus sinners...

Memetic evolution (2, Interesting)

jmerelo (216716) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945341)

Biological evolution is probably over; after all, we are quite well adapted to our environment; there might be some genetic drift, but it won't be noticed in a couple million years.

However, humankind is being used as a vehicle for memetic evolution [vub.ac.be] ; ideas evolve, reproduce, and flow from one mind to another; and it does not seem like this is going to stop. Ever.

Re:Memetic evolution (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945349)

Memes are for external thinkers (most people). Think internally! http://home.earthlink.net/~thinkyad/it.txt

Humans are just sentient beings... (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945345)

And sentient beings have lots of room to evolve. We don't even use a power of 2 as a radix even yet!

Re:Humans are just sentient beings... (1)

codetalker (245862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945395)

I heard that 3 is the best radix for representing numbers since it is the closest integer to e. This maximizes the proportion between the number of digits we have and the length of strings used to illustrate numbers. Or something like that.

Re:Humans are just sentient beings... (0)

ajmarks (447148) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945432)

Actually, trinary (base 3) is far more usefull than base two as it is closer to e (2.71828...). e has the best ratio of number of digits required to represent numbers of a given magnitude to the complexity of the numbering system.

Also, from a purely algebraic standpoint, base 12 is better as it is divisible by so many positive integers (1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12).

This is the most ridiculous article... (3, Insightful)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945346)

That I've ever heard of.

Variation is the subject for Human Change and Progression. Why doesn't "Professor" Jones look at something like, say, Malaria in relation to Sickle-Cell genes, or other diseases or climates and how they effect populations?

Since the entire world doesn't operate on a level where we can completely control our environment, there's no way to be sure if evolution is truly over. Then again, in Biology and Psychology classes, it HAS been noted that we are the only species on the planet that currently effects its own evolutionary change.

I just hope we can all come to the better conclusion that evolution isn't nearly over. We're still a changing species - but we're looking at ourselves in a relatively small time window. Modern society in comparison to evolution is a silly idea. The window isn't large enough to fit 'evolution' in.

Re:This is the most ridiculous article... (3, Interesting)

deltavivis (26381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945445)

this really isn't that silly of an article.
Its not unimaginable that the 3rd world of today, in a century or so, will have the same benefits of medical technology that developed countries have today. It starts with simple things--cheap glasses mean you don't die if your eyesight is very poor, thats one less test of fitness for passing on your genes. If we slowly but surely remove all tests of fitness (even infertility!) then there is no particular direction the species is going, which would be the same as the end of evolution.
The only sort of thing that will return us to an evolutionary path is something that reintroduces live-or-die tests of genetic fitness. This would be something like a natural disaster of extinction level proportions, or some global plague with a bit more bite than AIDs (ebola?). Some people have mentioned possible evolution in isolated space colonies, call me a pessimist, but i think something like the 2 possibilities i mentioned are more likely...

Re:This is the most ridiculous article... (5, Insightful)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945449)

&LT AOL &GT Me too! &LT /AOL &GT

I read the article a few hours before it was posted here.

It's a load of crap. Things have certainly changed, and many things that used to kill people no longer do, so evolution no longer selects on that basis. But Humans still reproduce mixing genes. Some people still have more children than others. Humans are still subject to evolution. It's just that there are different pressures than there used to be.

Human technology has chaged our envirnment radically. We live in heated homes. We work in offices. We die in car crashes. Eat processed food. Etc etc etc. If we assume that we don't start genetically engineering ourselves, this would eventually result in some signifigant (but unpredictable) changes to the human race.

One disturbing trend is an inverse relationship between wealth(social success) and number of children. Sucessful families with 1.2 children (below the replacement level, their genes are effectively selected against). Poverty level people having 3.6 children (geneticaly sucessfull).

We are effectively selecting against being sucessfull. Wierd.

-

Evolving (1)

olman (127310) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945452)

Damn!

Does this mean there's no hope of girls evolving into seeing geeks as sex-y during my lifetime?

Unmentioned.. (2, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945364)

There are all the usuall suspects with respect to future evolution, i.e. memes, ideas, social, AIs, and genetic engenering, but there is one possibility directly related to this article which was missed:.It takes a *long* time to travel to other stars (or even mars). We could see some real unplanned biological evolution as we create settlements on other worlds, unless we just replace ourselves with AIs first.

Re:Unmentioned.. (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945389)

There you go, spouting out a quote instead of just stating something yourself. Don't you realize you are a conscious being? And why did you ignore my insight that we are conscious beings and evolution is just a matter of developing around our consciousness (faster processing)?

Plenty more evolution ahead, just not natural (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945367)

Sure it is quite likely there will be no more biological evolution, but how long until geneticists can change our genes for the better? I would venture that eventually a majority of people will desire children that posses genes giving them superior intelligence, or perhaps looks, maybe strength. It seems only a matter of time until scientists figure out how the brain functions, at which point computers can interface directly. When science understands the workings of the human eye, perhaps someday humans will be born with eyes that more efficiently interface with an inorganic camera. I would think it's possible that humans will alter their genetics to combine with electronics more efficiently. Human evolution is not over by a long shot.

Re:Plenty more evolution ahead, just not natural (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945506)

"Sure it is quite likely there will be no more biological evolution"

Based on the past 10 billion years, I'd say it's highly likely evolution will continue.

hmmm... (1)

footility (541226) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945371)

I suspect the professor is not directly involved
in the evolutionary process [fucking.com] .

Evolution Over? Doubtful. (1)

nurightshu (517038) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945373)

Personally, I don't think evolution's done with us yet. It may be on hiatus for a while, thanks to advances in medical care and widespread genetic mixing, though.

Maybe I'm being hopelessly idealistic, but I think that one day man will go out to other planets with the intent to colonize. And then, when the communities of homo sapiens are widely separated, we'll see another explosion of evolutionary change.

Of course, some journalist in that far-distant day will probably write an article about how the changes to humans living on Blargon 4 have made them something other than human, and we'll have a whole new reason to hate people: genetic difference! <sarcasm> Yay. </sarcasm>

Re:Evolution Over? Doubtful. (2)

znu (31198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945397)

I don't know. I think natural biological changes will be dwarfed by engineered ones. Especially since we'll make ourselves immortal at the first chance we get, and probably resistant to mutation, since most mutations are, after all, bad, and cell mutations can cause cancer, etc.

Re:Evolution Over? Doubtful. (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945405)

But we'll all still be conscious beings. What does it matter since we're all conscious beings? We just need to evolve around our consciousness.

It CAN'T be over! (2)

Nathdot (465087) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945374)

Pinnacle? Pinnacle my ass!

I'm still waiting for my mutant xmen powers to vest themselves.

Damn it... what a gyp!

:)

Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

JupiterX (94375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945375)

We're still evolving, at least in small ways. For one, we get taller with each generation -- everybody knows that in Medieval times, for example, everybody was significantly shorter, even moreso in biblical times. But you can see evidence that we're growing taller, as a race, as few as three generations back. Of course, that'll level out eventually, but I digress. My favorite example of our current evolution is wisdom teeth. Dentists will tell you that more and more, young people are growing up with fewer or no wisdom teeth at all. We don't need them, so we evolved out of them. If not having to go to the dentist once more in my life isn't evolution, then I don't know what is.

Re:Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

LabRatty (96497) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945416)

That's a better diet, not evolution. The well fed nobles were just as tall as we were.

ratty

Re:Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

JupiterX (94375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945494)

While that's somewhat true -- a poor diet stunts growth -- it doesn't change the fact that the average Pharoahs or biblical king, while somewhat taller than their peons, were significantly shorter than the average contemporary member of congress. Heck, the average ancient peasant is significantly shorter than their contemporary counterpart.

Re:Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

Buggernut (74804) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945438)

Speaking of wisdom teeth wrt evolution, I was told at a dentist's office that back in the old neanderthal/homo erectus days, humans had larger jaws, and had enough room to accomodate all 32 teeth. Nowadays, most people don't, and have all sorts of problems with ingrown wisdom teeth (TMJ, infections, disalignment of teeth, etc.), and require surgical removal. Is that supposed to be evolution for the better? What kind of evolutionary forces favour those with jaws too small to hold all their teeth and are susceptible to all the health problems that come with it?

Re:Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945479)

What kind of evolutionary forces favour those with jaws too small to hold all their teeth



Probably similar ones to those that favor puppies with heads so big they nearly can't pass through the mother dog's birth channel. Some superior alien race thinks small jaws are so cute

Re:Wisdom teeth, etc. (1)

JupiterX (94375) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945480)

That's the very reason we're evolving out of our wisdom teeth: We don't have room for them, and we don't use them, so why keep them in our biological makeup? Unfortunately, evolution isn't smart, and it doesn't think. It doesn't say, "Hey, if I make this jaw smaller, these teeth won't fit.. maybe I should get rid of the teeth first." It doesn't work that way. Sorry.

It just doesn't work that way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945498)

We're bigger now because we have better food and better medicine. Midieval peasants were about the same size as prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Evolution takes much, much (much) longer. Take a tour of the third world and you'll see what three square meals, Flintstones chewables and penecillin will do for you.

As far as the teeth go, any dentist that tells you he's noticed evolutionary trends over the course of his career needs to lay off the nitrous and take a refresher bio course.

I am glad are u? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945376)

I don't want 11 toes do you?

humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945380)

is this article trying to say that Western Civilization, with all its Britney-Spears worship, microsoft-using, mediocrity-leveled shitpoop, is the pinnacle of humanity (or mankind, just to piss you lesbos off).

All i can see is that guys in general are turning more and mor einto faggots like "Ross" on friends and are decreasing their dominance over women (this is an importnat balnce of power that should be preserved at all costs, even to the extent of killing off one gender!) Where are men coming to?

Now look at most of you! White slobbish pasty geeks who eat pizza everyday and giggle over your smallish penises (yes, i said penises, you crazy cunt-bitches! I am 1337 h4x0r for that, huh, pussycock virgins...)

hey, hobout you guys, instead of making love to those holes in the walls, how bout you inject some crank and get on with it?

or do you think yourself better than junkies?

We're probably moving backwards . . . (2)

Ezubaric (464724) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945381)

Modern society has eliminated any chance for evolution. If we assume "success" in the typical Western money/power situation, you want to only have one or two children so as not to dilute your accumulated wealth. Money is determined by propagation of capital and not by the number of children.

If, however, you're at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, the more hands on the farm / bodies in the factory, the more money comes your way. If we throw in saftey nets that prevent weeding out those who are not "successful" and give more money for more dependents, the gene pool must either branch or become diluted with "unsuccessful" traits.

This sounds horrid - I know. I'm not arguing for a eugenics program. I think that there should be a society wide curb on reproduction, thus freeing up resources (this has to be done slowly as not to over-grey the population) to make everyone "sucessful."

Re:We're probably moving backwards . . . (2)

znu (31198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945430)

This doesn't have much effect of evolution, because people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder aren't necessarily genetically inferior. Economic success depends on many factors that have nothing to do with genetically determined traits: what area of the world you're born in, how rich your parents are, what opportunities just randomly crop up, etc.

Something about evolution (2)

Kiwi (5214) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945385)

Richard Dawkins excellent book, The Blind Watchmaker [amazon.com] , he makes the point that Evolution is like flying a plane (or like fighting a War, for that matter): Weeks of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.

In other words, Evolution is one of those things which appears to be doing nothing for a while, then suddenly there are events that cause a sudden radical evolutionary change to occur; such as a deadly disease, the changing of a forest in to a desert, and what not. If we had, for example, a thermonuclear world war, you can bet that this war would be followed by a sudden intense period of evolution.

In The Mote in God's Eye [amazon.com] , there is a conversation where the characters make a similiar argument to what the linked article makes--with inventions like glasses, wheel chairs, and other devices, people who would have not been able to survive in previous generations to breed can now pass on their genetic code.

Finally, I find the way they mentioned interracial breeding and its possible effects on evolution. I will say this much: When I travel to foreign countries (I am from the US), I find the girls there a lot more friendly than I find girls in the US. For geeks seeking to, errr, propergate their genetic code, and not finding girls willing to chare genertic code with them, going to a foreign country and gettting to know the girls there is an excellent avenue for finding a mate so that they can carry their genes on to the next generation.

Translated in to English, I am saying that geeks to can more esily get laid by going off to foreign lands and mingling with the girls there. Learning their foreign language helps, too, but is probably not a requirment, since English is currently the "world language".

- Sam

We have evolved and are still evolving! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945386)

When a predator needs to kill more effectively it gets sharper claws, better instincts or longer/more teeth to do it with.


Humans create 20mm computer controlled airburst grenades. Our minds evolve and accumulate knowledge. Our bodies don't. Evolution still favors the smartest amongst us.

Evolution favors the breeders (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945411)

That's the developing world...the places where they're getting improved sanitation and medicine, but still breeding like they're all ox-whipping farmers.

Evolution favors the people who can pump out the most copies. I'll guarantee that is not the scholars among us.

Oh, and as for sharpening your fangs, the breeders can still out-survive you. If the US ever went to (all-out, total) war with India, I'd bet on India having the last surviving citizen. (Maybe not IN india...)

not us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945388)

We change our invironment to suit us there for slowing down or almost stopic evolution in its steps.

hmm (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945390)

A while after Darwin came up with the idea of natural selection, he came up with a related theory, that of sexual selection. Human beings usually choose their mates based on certain traits, and this probably won't stop anytime soon.

These traits don't necessarily have to have any survival value outside mate selection; the best example would probably be peacocks, where the females choose males based on the impressiveness of their tail display. The bigger and more colorful the display, the more attractive a peacock is to a prospective female, but outside of that the tails do nothing but call attention to predators.

Same thing with humans; attractive traits (genetically determined attractive traits of course) will have a better chance of being propagated. This is probably more common than it's been through a lot of human history, where mate selection was done by the families rather than the couple themselves.

Besides which, I can think of several other ways human beings will evolve. How late in life a woman becomes infertile; the longer the period of fertility, the more likely she'll be to pass on the genetic trait for it. Resistance to pollutants; if you have better resistance to cancer-causing factors, you can pass that along to your offspring, while those with lesser resistance are more likely to be removed from the gene pool.

If this century continues to proceed this way: (2)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945391)

Since this century already seems to be the bad-anime-cliche century, I am assuming that sometime around the year of 2015, humanity will go through a forced evoloution planned by an old German man, and involving angels, genetic engineering, nuclear explosions and gigantic biorobots dropping out of 500 foot wide stealth bombers.

Can't Stop the Shining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945394)

I've always thought that things like evolution and nature will always be around, kinda like friction (where that came from, I don't know). So, no matter what the human race does, we'll always "evolve" or move forward in accordance to the rules of nature. Maybe our longer life spans *are* a part of our evolution.

And as for a little bit on nature... I don't think technological advances are unnatural. I mean, look at it this way, what isn't natural? Everything under the sun is somehow derived from nature, so, in the end, it really doesn't matter what we do... If it's any consolation, let's say technology gets the better of us and we die off somehow. We go back into the ground and become "natural" again...

What about conscious beings? (0)

Jeremy Gallow (538693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945396)

Why won't anyone comment about being a conscious being? Isn't it obvious that we only need evolve around our consciousness to get ahead? There's much more to do. Stop ignoring me.

Threat to our evolution... (0)

dasspunk (173846) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945399)

My theory has always been that in order to grow as a race, we need to keep humping until we're all the same color. This would, in theory, allow us to take the best from all races and cultures.

This article confuses me a bit and seems to border on bigotry for the sake of genealogy. I think MTV, with it's cultural influence and the reason for it's popularity, is a bigger threat to our evolution than the color of our skin.

Let the ethnic clensing begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945401)

We want to evolve don't we?

Kill the weak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945429)

The other day a hobo asked me for money. Of course I gave him nothing. You see, there are those who are less fortunate, and there are those who are just lazy. I beleive the latter is most often the case. And hence, I'd like to propose that we kill the weak.

no more evolution (1)

NightHwk1 (172799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945402)

We certainly can't evolve anymore now that we have a cure for nearly every disease...

Cancer is probably the most dangerous thing to our current evolutionary status, but it doesn't seem like it will be much of a threat for long.

AIDS is disappearing, smallpox is dead, anthrax is nothing to worry about, ebola - isolated, bubonic plague - gone, etc.

The only way we can evolve now is mentally; and unfortunately this will not happen on a large scale..just look at the world around you.

[[upon deeper thought]]

I suppose its also possible that people with slower metabolisms will have a greater chance of survival in the coming years, once food becomes scarce and the world is similar to the movie Soylent Green.
Thought I wouldn't consider this -evolution-, just adaptation to one minor problem.

Re:no more evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945447)

ahh u fat bastards...

You can keep dreaming or wake up... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945456)

If you think we have a cure for every disease you need to lay off the crack. For every disease we know about I'll bet that 5 are still in the wild and have yet to be discovered. Eventually we'll find them all after we saturate areas that have had low numbers of people. Or look into things that were consided to be "physclogical instead of physiological".

Cancer is yes very dangerous and still extreamly prevelant but the question is...is it natural, or is it due to enviromental factors. I feel that it's due to the enviromental factors aka toxins in the enviroment.

AIDS is still on the upswing, they still find a couple of new mutated strains every year, small pox is no longer "wild" but is still exists, yeah anthrax is pretty common...go and stick your hands in a patch of dirt. Ebola is semi-isolated but all it needs is someone to get on a jet before infection sets in to bring is somewhere else.

Bubonic plage/pnunomic plauge is around now as much as it always has been, actually there is an outbreak in california with the squrrils in the mountains right now. There are also atleast TWO strains that immune to all antibiotics, probbly more due to stupid people and their inabiltiy to "take all of the antibiotics prescribed". Just remeber that for every strain that is antibiotic immune it's due to some stupid human that decided they knew better.

That I will somewhat agree with, though disease is still a major impact on us as a species that and in general old age. Though we are living longer and what not...that has more to do with our enviroment and standard of living.

Ahh...I know more then a few people who have eaten people...but...it's not something that I'll dance to very easily they were doing some stuff over in africa during one of those civil wars, they ate without knowing what it was.

Anyway...there is alot of stuff that we still need to evolve over.

Re:no more evolution (1)

cheezehead (167366) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945477)

AIDS is disappearing, smallpox is dead, anthrax is nothing to worry about, ebola - isolated, bubonic plague - gone, etc.

And tuberculosis is back, thanks to irresponsible use of antibiotics, so that bacteria can actually evolve to resistant strains.

Have any antibacterial soap in your house? Get rid of it. It helps to select the 0.0001% of bacteria that are not affected by it.

Re:no more evolution (1)

kuiken (115647) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945485)

AIDS is disappearing ???? What have you been smoking ? and can i have some ?
AIDS is still spreading [who.int] fast.
Ebola, we dont even know what the natural carier of it is so how the hell can we contain it ?
"Thought I wouldn't consider this -evolution-, just adaptation to one minor problem" euh last time i check evolution was just that, adaptions to problems, by survivel of the fitest

Re:no more evolution (2)

mgv (198488) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945500)

AIDS is disappearing, smallpox is dead, anthrax is nothing to worry about, ebola - isolated, bubonic plague - gone, etc.

Actually alot of these diseases are evolving very rapidly. As in resistance to antibiotics and antivirals is a very new phenomena in terms of human pathogens.

Either we will have to develop new technologies to deal with this, or evolve our immune system to deal with this. Or start dying from infections in our twenties again, like the good old days.

Michael

In some ways, we're devolving (2, Insightful)

Brant (10852) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945406)

How many of us would be around if it weren't for modern technology/medicine? Personally, I'm blind as a bat without my glasses, have plastic teeth as my real ones never came in and I was born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. If we were still under the evolutionary pressures that were normal for most of our specie's history, I'd be toast.

Look around sometime and notice how many people are wearing glasses or contacts. I'd bet that as little as 200 years ago the numbers were less than 10% of what we have now. I always picture this as the distribution of eyesight in the population widening as the evolutionary pressure to keep eyesight good is taken away. I.e., you don't die any more if you need glasses.

Whether this means we've stopped evolving or not is a bit of a semantic game. Even the word "devolving" is a loaded term, as it implies that there is some upward path that evolution is following. Sharks have been stable for millions of years and haven't really evolved in that time. However, this doesn't mean that evolution has stopped for them. They've just reached a "local minimum" in the evolutionary fitness phase space. You can bet that if something drastic changed they would start changing again right away.

I'll stop rambling after one more thought. As Richard Dawkins has said so well and so often, evolution is a subtle process and it's very easy to make the mistake of anthropomorphizing it into something with a goal. It seems to me that that's what the authors of this article have done.

Either that or they've just stated the obvious.

Brant

Re:In some ways, we're devolving (2, Insightful)

Savatte (111615) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945464)

Look around sometime and notice how many people are wearing glasses or contacts. I'd bet that as little as 200 years ago the numbers were less than 10% of what we have now

I don't think it's the fact that we see more people wearing glasses. It's the fact that our ability to detect flaws in eyesight have increased, and the fact that the people who need glasses have easier access to them.

Well somethings changing (1)

codetalker (245862) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945407)

We had this debate in my philosophy class, and I'm gonna stick to my guns.

The reason people aren't changing to adapt to their environment anymore is becuase they are adapting their environment to themselves. Can't learn to live somewhere? Pull out all those pesky trees, dig up all the rocks, plow the ground, add some fertilizer and you may just get by...

The question is.. (1)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945409)


Simply put, where do you want to evolve to today?

no, sorry, wrong thread.

I have no doubt humanity is still evolving, the question it, in what direction? remember, evolution is driven by changes that extend breeding probability (not intelligence or lifespan, etc..), so what increases our chances of breeding??

Interesting question, I think. A little scary if you think about it too much.

All his measuring sticks are too short... (2, Interesting)

Mercaptan (257186) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945418)

I know it's hard to imagine evolutionary time, where things require a few hundred thousand years to be relevant, but really this assertion that we have stopped evolving is so much crap.

Modern medicine and sanitation are pretty much developments of the last two thousand years (the Romans had pretty elaborate sewer and aqueduct systems), while speedy air and land travel has only been around for a hundred years. These really only register as a blip on the scale of evolutionary time. During this blip, we are doing well and reunited as a species (reproductively speaking). This by itself is not significant enough to alter our rate of evolution. Subpopulations of many species go through these cycles and are still "actively evolving". More significantly, the incredible technological changes we are generating in such short order will have an unpredictable impact on the environment around us and thus our own survival. We may think that our lives are becoming more stable, but this does not come without alteration to the world around us.

While it may seem that we are conquering nature, we are doing nothing less than ensuring the struggle of nature continues.

How do you define evolution? (2, Insightful)

Ben Jackson (30284) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945422)

Humans could change over thousands or millions of years to be to be smallpox resistant... Or we could apply our own intelligence to wipe out smallpox with vaccines. The former is clearly evolution. Is the latter? Is species improvment still evolution when changes directed by the evolved intelligence dominate the random mutations?

For a while I was worried that humans were defeating evolution. Diseases like diabetes can't be cured, but we can treat them, thereby increasing the number of kids born to people with diabetes. The natural selection against childhood diabetes is defeated. On the other hand, we may one day cure diabetes with gene therapy. Maybe that is how humans will evolve in the future.

Evolution is not linear! (2, Interesting)

axolotl_farmer (465996) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945423)

Evolution is dynamic process, where those most adapted to the environment tend to have more offrspirng than those less adapted. I'm sad to see that many people (including most journalists) still seem to think about evolution as a linear process, where a species becomes more and more adapted striving for perfection.

Has our environment changed? Well, humans are still adapted to live on the savannah. We are adapted to socially depend on a large extended family.

In genetic time, humans recently started farming, and even more recently started living in citites. We are subjected to an entire new environment: the indoors. We are living very close to lots of strangers. Still, we react to modern life as hunters/gatherers. Think of stress, road rage, people being burned out by 30.

Evolution works on all living organisms all the time. Maybe other factors are more important than genetics, in determining the number of offspring a human has. It is easier to imagine that those less (genetically) adapted tend to have fewer children. Those burned out from work by the time they're 30 probably have less energy for having a family than those who have the genetics (and social life) to cope with stress.

And for a good read about evolution that clears up a lot of popular misunderstandings about what evolution is and isn't I can really recommend Richard Dawkins.

Worse Than Ignorant (tm) (5, Interesting)

mattr (78516) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945424)

I read the article just becase I don't like to reply without giving the benefit of the doubt.. but in this case it was a waste of time.

QUOTE: 'Things have simply stopped getting better, or worse, for our species.'
Then the Atomic Scientists [bullatomsci.org] wouldn't have a Doomsday Clock. And we wouldn't be worried about destroying our coastal cities with rising tides.

The article is only saved by Stringer who says the obvious, that 'Evolution goes on all the time. You don't have to intervene. It is just that it is highly unpredictable.'

I'd say that any mind that thinks evolution is over, is destined to become roadkill due to 'evolutionary' causes.

In our near future we have the prospect of mutations spreading which fight against aids, tropical diseases spreading north, and resistance to biowarefare or radiation. Somewhere along the way we will likely have changes in populations due to great artificial genes which can be passed on. Robotics and other technologies will enhance humans at some pace or another, there seems little doubt of that or you can read Hans Moravec if you are still unsure about that. We will have plenty of stresses on our populations and our genes, no worries about that. Homo Sap's going to have to advance a heck of a lot more for that.

The problem with a guy like Jones is that when people start to base strategies or policies on such delusions, we all lose out. Do you think we are losing no great artistic or scientific minds in the African tragedy of AIDS? Does it really matter if the makeup of populations change by one outliving the other, or being more procreative, or eating better, or what if they just ethnically cleanse, water war, bomb, poison, or otherwise do each other in? And are we all so homogenous now? I'd rather not consider myself as the least common denominator.

I think the battles of evolution require a lot of creative thinking to elucidate if you are thinking about your own time, and even then all bets are off. If anything evolution will accelerate as we become able to modify/improve our genes more quickly than the natural rate. And lots more people in the world will gain the means to exterminate those with genes they dislike. Finally, Natural Selection is always in operation. You can't turn it off just because increased mobility makes it difficult to measure.

Evolution is sort of like a saying of Buckaroo Banzai's: Just remember, wherever you go, there you are.

Evolution Lives (1)

cmallinson (538852) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945425)

As long as a certain trait in humans makes one person more likely to reproduce than another, evolution is vey much alive. Mutations still occur, and if one happens that increases one's likelyhood to parent children, then that new trait will live on.

One difference in today's humans is that there are fewer negetive traits that will be eliminated through natural selection, simply because more disabilities can be overcome by scientific developments. This allows people to reproduce, when they would not otherwise be able produce offspring. (something like a hearing disability would render most animals unable to eat, let alone reproduce)

Distortion - Layer 05. (2)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945427)

(Deus) Human beings may not evolve any longer. Human's incidence of cancer is by far lower than other animal. There is a theory that human being is already a neoteny, and never evolve more. If it is true, what a stupid animal they became. They forgot the force which operate themselves, and they are only satisfying their desire. Don't you think they are worthless? Human being is only so much. But, You don't have to remain such a miserable human being. Now, human beings only created the exit.

(Lain) What is it?

(Deus) Network. It's wired, Lain.

(Lain) Who are you?

(Deus) I'm God.

Cognition is the worst thing that ever happened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945431)

Its worse than all that. Evolution has turned a complete 180. The least fit reproduce the most, and the smartest, strongest, and most capable reproduce very little, or not at all. I can see the human race evolving into gelatainous blobs of crap if the trend continues.

That reminds me! (1)

quannump (310933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945433)

why does the following quote seem appropiate to me?

"640K should be enough"

Lack of Natural Selection... (2)

edashofy (265252) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945434)

The real problem here is a lack of natural selection. Stupid people just don't get eaten by predators, because we invent means to defend them (and for them to defend themselves).

As such, I advocate a campaign of thinning the herd every once in a while.

Re:Lack of Natural Selection... (0)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945446)

Stupid people just don't get eaten by predators

Well, I'd say that if you're stupid and end up flipping burgers at McDonalds or pumping gas for Shell you have been effectively eaten by predators. Try reproducing and raising a family with that kind of salary.

It's over (for now, that is) (4, Insightful)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945435)

According to Darwin himself, natural selection only occurs when there is a "struggle for existence." If there is a scarcity of resources (or other obstacle) that makes it impossible for every member of a species to survive, those with certain "fitter" genetic traits will have a distinct advantage. On the other hand, if nearly every member can survive and reproduce as it is, there is no reason for those traits to be favored.

Humans are not presently in a "struggle for existence" -- most people can survive and procreate without much trouble, irrespective of their genetics. (Those who do struggle mostly do so because of political, social, and economic factors, not genetic disadvantages.) However, this could change quite quickly if some massively disruptive event (drought, famine, epidemic, intergalactic war, etc.) were to make it difficult for humans to survive without superior genetics.

In fact, Stephen Jay Gould's theory of Punctuated Equilibrium suggests that most species evolve this way: long periods of stasis, occasionally "punctuated" by rapid change over a small number of generations.

Cheers,
IT

It has.... (1, Offtopic)

burtonator (70115) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945436)

It has stopped. just look at George W Bush..

:) booyeah!

Total Rubbish! (1)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945439)

First of all, evolution comes about when we are forced to adapt, albiet slowly, to a change in our environment. It is pretty likely that if we were all to smoke, over a few thousand years, while many would die, mankind would eventually develop a resistance to cigarette smoke - perhaps through a mutation in the lungs that filtered out the damaging impurities. And/or, our bodies may learn to simply absorb and 'wash away' such impurities in the same way we do with excessive vitamin C. Just as giraffes developed long necks because they were forced to eat from tall trees (that is the reason), and other lifeforms have also adapted - to survive - so shall we, even if we cannot always predict what will happen to cause such changes. Evolution of the human spieces will only end when we wipe our selves out. I stand by this comment and am shocked to read that someone believes otherwise. Such arrogance will be our undoing. We haven't even started! Hear's to Version 1.0, the metaphysical. Through the wall we go. One day...

Our tiny brains (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945443)

From the article
"For example, brain size has decreased over the past 10,000 years. "

Yup...thousands of years of what today would be Jerry Springer guests, outbreeding the rest. THAT IS OUR HERITAGE, EVERY ONE OF US.

Does he really say this? (2)

trenton (53581) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945448)

Does he really say this?
'Just consider Aids, and then look at chimpanzees,' says Jones. 'You find they all carry a version of HIV but are unaffected by it.

'But a few thousand years ago, when the first chimps became infected, things would have been very different. Millions of chimps probably died as the virus spread through them, and only a small number, which possessed genes that conferred immunity, survived to become the ancestors of all chimps today.

'Something very similar could soon happen to humans. In a thousand years, Africa will be populated only by the descendants of those few individuals who are currently immune to the Aids virus. They will carry the virus but will be unaffected by it. So yes, there will be change there all right - but only where the forces of evolution are not being suppressed.'

Does he suppose this, or is there evidence to support to his statement "In a thousand years, Africa will be populated only by the descendants of those few individuals who are currently immune to the Aids virus". If it's true, isn't this kinda a big f*ing deal? It means of Africa's (2 billion?) population will die.

I took a look around. Here's some evidence for the statement google turned up: an (extremist?) article from Earth Policy Institute [worldwatch.org] .

Who cares? (2)

DarkZero (516460) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945450)

Who cares if we're not evolving? For the most part, we've moved past evolution. Evolution cures diseases in a population over hundreds of years. Humanity has cured many of the diseases that it has set its sights on in less than a tenth of the time. The same goes for physical abilities. The fastest mammal on Earth isn't the cheetah, it's the human, which rides in cars at much faster speeds and rides in planes at even faster speeds than that. The same goes for the most physically powerful. Large felines may have sharp claws, but we have nuclear weaponry. An armadillo has a thick hide, but we have kevlar, ceramic, and now artificial spider silk. Humanity has moved past evolution and into something new and unique. This is something that all of those scientists fail to realize. We've evolved to the point where we are, in many ways, the masters of our destinies.

Re:Who cares? (0)

October_30th (531777) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945458)

For the most part, we've moved past evolution

You're right. The only two "small" things we still need to learn are a) to colonise other planets and b) master our genetic code.

a couple literary references (2)

legLess (127550) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945457)

William S Burroughs once said, "Evolution did not come to a reverent halt with homo sapiens." He believed that the human species as is was doomed, and that to survive at all we needed to get into space. His vision of space-faring was different from the popular one - he imagined that humans would undergo radical biological alterations, to become creatures more adapted to the environment of space travel.

This is a pretty common theme in science fiction, from Brave New World forward (perhaps even before) - specialized "models" of human for specific tasks.

Frank Herbert (e.g. in Destination Void) imagined that space travel would first be done by clones. Herbert's future got around the knotty personal identity issues with clones by simply declaring them non-human. Clones were literally chunks of flesh owned by humans or corporations, and there were few restrictions on how they were treated. (Note that Herbert was not at all advocating this attitude, just speculating that it might become dominant.) So the first space travellers were clones, but only because they were disposable.

I agree with Burroughs (and so many others) that we need to get off this rock if we're to have any long-term future. The biologic alteration route is an interesting one - purposeful evolution. This is an exciting time to be alive.

It IS over (2, Interesting)

kayak (230663) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945460)

While I haven't actually read the article, I've thought about this question before and I too believe human evolution is over. Or to be more precise, evolution for the better is over.

The mechanism of evolution, natural selection, no longer work on the human population. You no longer have to count on good genes to ensure lots of offsprings. In fact, there is a universal phenomenum where the likely number of offsprings you have is inversely proportional to your level of education.

The more successful you are, the less offsprings you'll have! That is working completely against evolution.

From a more physical point of view, with modern medicine, you can have otherwise crippling hereditary problems and still live to adulthood and have children. This works against evolution too.

Before people start flaming me, I just want to say that I'm not suggesting we should let people with treatable genetic diseases die instead, or that we should not allow them to have offsprings! I'm merely stating that these things work against evolution and that is why I believe human evolution is over.

Take myself for example. I was brought into this world by c-section. There was no way my mother who weighed under 100 lbs before she got pregnant could have delivered a 10-lb baby naturally. Thanks to modern medicine, my mother and I survived. My mother had my sister 4 years later, also with assistance (vacuum). Now the chances that I'll give my wife a big baby maybe higher than normal. There, an example of a bad physical trait that survived due to technology.

I sure as heck hope not (2)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945461)

Hell any pea brained idiot can think up of improvements to the human race, it is just that mother nature works in a least common denominator type of method and quite frankly, hell, we defiantly ARE the LEAST common denominator!

on a more serious note though, I could use a few more fingers, some additional types of appendages would be nice (I am thinking think tentacles for picking up screws when working around inside of computer cases).

Better eyesite, tetra vision is possible on females, no reason why we can't be upgraded to see ultra violent and infrared. Besides the annoyance that TV remote controls would cause with the infrared thing that is.

I did a presentation in my Genetics Class about the possibility of artificially created human evolution. Conclusion, GENETIC ENGINEERING RULES!

Four legs would be nifty at times too, though I guess two IS the best over all trade off.

A better digestive system, yumm!

More intelligence. A lot more. Perfect memory also. And no neurosis. Well no serious ones at least, minor neurii (misspelling on purpose there folks) are good for a society at times. :)

Oh yah and before I forget, NEURAL JACKS! (duh!)

I doubt that mothernature would naturaly come up with those. :)

This is not only total nonsense, it is .. (2, Interesting)

thirdrock (460992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945465)

This is not only total nonsense, it is state sponsored racism.

Take this for example ....
In addition, human populations are now being constantly mixed, again producing a blending that blocks evolutionary change. This increased mixing can be gauged by calculating the number of miles between a person's birthplace and his or her partner's, then between their parents' birthplaces, and finally, between their grandparents'.

In virtually every case, you will find that the number of miles drops dramatically the more that you head back into the past. Now people are going to universities and colleges where they meet and marry people from other continents. A generation ago, men and women rarely mated with anyone from a different town or city. Hence, the blending of our genes which will soon produce a uniformly brown-skinned population. Apart from that, there will be little change in the species.


Not only is this totally racist and white supremist horseshit, it is completely wrong.
Whatever qualification Prof. Steve Jones holds, he should probably take down his degree and wipe his arse with it, as it has turned out that is all it's good for.

Evolution works by trying combinations. When one particular combination hits exactly right for the current conditions at the current moment in time the result is a sudden and exponential success.

For example, let's imagine, that a certain blend of genes, from mixing certain groups of people who individually have strong immunity to different types of disease, produces children with an immune system that is 1-3 orders of magnitude stronger than anyone else.

These children will almost never get sick. Their brain development will be on average, much better, because they are never weakened by childhood diseases.

As they get older, they never visit conventional doctors, work harder and longer than the rest of the population without succumbing to the hundreds of different bacteria and virii that puts the rest of the population out of productive work 1-4 weeks of the year.

They will be less of a drain on society, as people in modern society are a much greater burden on the public purse at the end of their life (in Western Socialist countries, up to 50% of public health care is spent on the last 5 years of people's lives).

They will be productive for longer, creating wealth to a much greater age.

And with all this greater health, and wealth, and energy, they will produce A LOT MORE CHILDREN than the average person.

Modern medicine knows no cure for the COMMON COLD!! How many more diseases are we completely at a loss to stop right now?? Can you imagine a cold strain escaping from Shanghai, or Calcutta?

The people living in those cities are the survivors. Every year simple diseases kill people in the developing world. The local population builds a resistance. The disease mutates and kills again. The local population builds more resistance. And so on and so forth.

Westerners, living in their sterile and hygenic conditions, eating denatured food full of salt, fat and sugar, won't have any resistance to these viscious new cold strains.

This is an evolutionary event just waiting to happen.

Humans aren't improving, we're getting worse (1)

wzzrd (545802) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945469)

Thinks about it:

animals improve themselves through evolution, because the stronger (prittier, tougher, taller, whatever) mate with other stronger (prittier, tougher, taller, whatever) and therefore get stronger (etc.) offspring. The weak animals get less or no offspring. Survival of the fittest.

Now humans:

People like to think that the brain is the most valuable human assett. But look at this: highly educated people in the West, get LESS children! People persue careers, work hard, don't want children. Sometimes they don't even "mate". Humans with less "brainy assetts", get MORE children however, therefore it would be logical (I think :P ) that humankind doesn't become MORE intelligent, but LESS intelligent.

(Note: I DO NOT value other "assets" (like craftmanship, strength etc.) in humans to be of less value. I meant to say that in our science fiction stories and the picture we make of our future we see ourselves as extremely intelligent beings. We might want to alter those pictures a little....)

impetus (1)

randal_hicks (447937) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945470)

If people start to live to 150, and are capable of producing children for more than 100 of those years, the effects could be dramatic, he says. 'People will start to produce dozens of children in their lifetimes, and that will certainly start to skew our evolution. These people will also have more chance to accumulate wealth as well. So we will have created a new race of fecund, productive individuals and that could have dramatic consequences.

Given the limited amount of resources, I would expect that this will not happen until we are ready to go offplanet. Nature will find a way to keep us in check until then...

It would make sense to have colonists be more durable (without turning them into Greys), since the ability to train offspring to their level is not their immediate concern. Once adequate facilities are established, the ability to have more offspring later in their life increases the size of the (now) native gene pool, not to mention the labor pool.

Until then, "blend" like there's no tomorrow !

Beer~! (1)

tchueh (305012) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945471)

Blame the Beer, Evolution stops once stupid/inferior people can get drunk and have babies.

Too High Tech for Evolution (2)

stuffman64 (208233) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945472)

Face it, the human race is too high tech for evolution. We can no longer evolve naturally (allthough I am not ruling out evolution through genetic engineering or other such means) because we are able to remedy nearly all of our faults.

You see, if a fish was born in the ocean with a negative genetic defect, there is nothing to save it. It will soon be killed by a predator. We all know Darwin's Theory, so I'll move on. What differentiates us from that fish (or rather, species of fish), is we have been able to learn about, and treat, most any problem that affects our race. When a baby is sick or born with a disorder (assuming proper healthcare is available), we are able to do quite a bit to help her. We have created various medicines and treatments for most and disease. Even people with mental retardation can live a fairly normal life because care is available to them. If an ape was born mentally retarded, most likely it would die within a short period of time because it simply can't take care of itself. Since we as humans can overcome these obstacles, no longer does the "survival of the fittest" axiom apply.

Our gene codebase will still contain errors, and now there is virtually no natural way to wipe them out. And because of the immense population, a positive genetic defect (say, one that would make us 10x smarter) would take centuries, if not millennia to propagate.

Sure we will all be different in most respects, but radical changes are no longer possible. Also, as sick as it sounds to us Americans (well, most Americans), incest is a primary method of diversifying and strenghtening the gene pool. Dog breeders take advantage of this, but most of the world does not (including me). So basically, our natural evolution has run out, and it is up to us to continue it through science. It might be hard for some people to swallow, but genetic engineering and gene replacement is probably the only way to keep our species evolving.

These are just my thoughs, and I'm sure I may be wrong about something. Any comments? I sure would like to hear what others have to think.

What about the people on welfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2945482)

They seem to have 20 or 30 kids. So i think we're going to evelove untill we're all on welfare, living in the projecrs, drinking malt liquer on the stoop, and yelling: "Hey baby, baby, yeah, yeah baby." at every woman that walks by.

One Very Simple Statement (0)

Merlin_ (22156) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945484)

Ray Kurzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines"

... biological evolution as we know it is over. We are on the virge of reverse-engineering it's creation. We will reprogram it to suit our needs. Just like the transistor took over from the vacuum tube, improvement (evolution) doesn not stop, it just uses different materials goes in different directions.

Hard to believe (2)

anpe (217106) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945486)

Evolution envolves billions of years, and the evolution theory still needs to explain _how_ do the evolution is done (cf Lamarck vs Darwin or another). It would be mandatory to find out how it works prior to yell "it stopped! it stopped!"

By the way the article itself finishes discreting its main thesis :

'Evolution goes on all the time. You don't have to intervene. It is just that it is highly unpredictable. For example, brain size has decreased over the past 10,000 years

Nonsense! (1)

Selanit (192811) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945487)

Evolutionary forces will continue to act on the human population. If the human population does not have to change in order to meet those challenges, that simply means we are already well enough adapted to continue in an unchanged form. The process continues, it simply doesn't change anything. So no, evolution is not "over."

"Stagnation" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Look at the shark. The basic template hasn't changed in thousands of eons -- lot 'o sharp teeth at one end, tail at the other. Cockroaches haven't changed all that much recently either. Why? Because they've hit on something that works, and has kept on working. Humans are similar in that respect. (On an aside, there are some that might argue that we humans incorporate the worst features of both sharks and roaches -- but I digress.)

Furthermore, this conclusion that evolution is "over" and we are "stagnating" is based on the prevailing conditions in western society. Evolution works in terms of millions and billions of years. I don't think I agree that our society is so stable that it will endure long enough to have a measurable effect in terms of the biological makeup of the species as a whole.

There are any number of ways we could be reintroduced to evolutionary change. Hitherto unknown diseases could sweep through the population, rendering large numbers of people dead or sterile. We could get hit by an asteroid and go the way of the dinosaurs. Well-meaning aliens might "adopt" us and alter us beyond recognizeability. Heck, WE might alter OURSELVES beyond recognizeability. The bunny rabbits of the world might get tired of their pacifist reputation and rise up against us in innumerable hordes!

To conclude that evolution is at an end and that we are immune to nature simply because we've had about 150 years of a stable society in which everybody can reproduce is shortsighted and arrogant.

not likely (1)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945490)

After only a few hundred years of thorough genetic mixing, I think it's a little early to call the game.

There's always genetic engineering, resistances to potential new diseases and environmental changes. Let's not forget the potential for speciation via space travel. If it takes 7 years, at light speed, to get from Star System A to Star System B, you can bet there won't be a lot of intermixing between those populations.

And even if humans are slowly reaching the point where the weaker don't get killed off. We are still selecting who we mate with using criteria like Looks, Intelligence, Success, Looks, Sense of Humor, and Looks. So who's to say this kind of social selection won't be a major evolutionary force?

Heh :) (0)

pkplex (535744) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945495)

Evolution did not happen in the first place :)

Evolution requires Suffering and Death (1)

Skevin (16048) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945499)

There's a story, which caps evolution quite nicely: two homo sapiens are sitting on the African Savannah long ago, when a lion approaches. Both of them start running towards the trees. The one who makes the correlation between climbing the tree and safety becomes our ancestor. The one who doesn't... well, he doesn't.
But seriously, the evolutionary factors that have shaped our biological being are no longer in effect - i.e. If there were some natural factor in our environment that destroyed people with weak vision (I'm legally blind, myself), then the human race would quickly find itself with 20/20 vision as a whole. If we proceeded to start killing off everyone with an unfavorable trait, that trait would quickly disappear from our species, or at the very least, become dormant.
Indeed, we may have come to a dead end because we value the individual too much, and often we have the medical technology to carry an "unfavorable" individual to survive to sexual maturity, as it were. Traditionally, nature would simply weed out everyone with those traits. If you start picking at it too much, all those proponents of Eugenics almost start to make sense. Scary, isn't it? Personally, I have no problem with thinking we've reached a plateau in our evolution.
Okay, that covers the Death part. Now, we look at suffering as a necessary part of our improvement as a race...
It is a well known fact that if you have an island where resources are plentiful and people's needs are few, then that particular culture will never develop a significant economy, much less develop any appreciable technology. Fire was invented because people were cold. The bow and arrow was invented because people needed to catch food with less effort. Hell, the cotton gin was invented because free slave labor was in noticeable decline. Slashdot gets built up because Hemos doesn't want to work as a grocery clerk for the rest of his life. Human Suffering begets innovation. As the old saying goes, Necessity is the Mother of Invention.
Along these lines, it is impossible for the economy of Star Trek to ever come into existence, where all money is eliminated, and everyone contributes to society for only the joy of self improvement.
I therefore posit the following: the End of Human Evolution/Improvement actually comes if we eliminate Poverty, Suffering, and Mortality. In Complacency, the human race dies off as a whole.

Solomon Chang

Sex Appeal (4, Insightful)

KidSock (150684) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945503)


Sex appeal is the only force left with respect to the evolution of human beings. We're far too smart to be influenced by anything less barring a catastrophic environmental change.

Rubbish (2)

Isldeur (125133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945507)

Rubbish. This is utterly rubbish. Sure, we're not growing a third arm within the lifetime of this person, but evolution is most certainly occuring. It just takes a long time and it's something we would never notice without historical data.

I will tell you one interesting fact though - we have this old house - built around 1829 and the handrails around the landing with the stairs are really low. People back then were generally smaller. There's one thing I can think of.

Now, I asked this question once of someone too. But his answer was just the opposite. He thought we were evolving faster than normal because we could better our own environment to that point ourselves. Medicine, more or less our discoveries, are prolonging our "natural" course of life and life-events right now. That that has changed.

What about the 'civilisation' argument? (2)

Jon Chatow (25684) | more than 12 years ago | (#2945508)

I was under the impression that it was the commonly held theory among anthropologists et al. that the advent of civilisation in a species would bring about the halting of evolution for said species, as the society acts to defend all members thereof, not just the 'fittest' (note how eugenics is regarded as a most disgusting topic for many/most, for example). Or is this something that I'm just completely wrong on? :-)
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