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#1 Terring

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 08:22 AM

"Two billion years ago, our ancestors were microbes; half a billion years ago, fish; a hundred million years ago, mice; ten million years ago, arboreal apes; a million years ago, proto-humans puzzling out the taming of fire. Our evolutionary lineage is marked by mastery of change. In out time, the pace is quickening." Carl Sagan

We can imagine how the future may be, but what about us? What kind of people will live in the cities and the colonies of the future? Melon-headed geniuses with exotic mental abilities? Genetic mutants with superior abilities? Advance cyborgs with mechanical implants and quantum computers instead of biological brains? Superior morality people who are beyond good and evil? How the people of tomorrow may evolve? How Homo Superior will be? Will we evolve into super-intelligent creatures of silicon or pure energy, or just atrophy into lazy useless blobs? Is it possible to be replaced by another species? If yes, will we create our own successors without realising it? Humans will still be humans in the future? What is Transhumanism? Is "playing the God" a good idea after all?

 

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Here we can post pictures, news and ideas about the man of tomorrow. I know that this topic may be too sensitive for many people, so please keep it clean.


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#2 KonstantinII

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 03:54 PM

Your idea that humans evolved from monkeys is wrong.


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#3 Steam Supported

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 05:45 PM

Your idea that humans evolved from monkeys is wrong.

Yeah, humans share the same descent as all other primates. Last common ancestor was, if I'm not mistaken, a mouse-like creature.



#4 KonstantinII

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 06:05 PM

 

Your idea that humans evolved from monkeys is wrong.

Yeah, humans share the same descent as all other primates. Last common ancestor was, if I'm not mistaken, a mouse-like creature.

 

That sounds irrational, I mean how could a mouse become a person?


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#5 Terring

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 06:19 AM

Life evolves because of mutations, genetic drift and natural selection. All individuals have hereditary material in the form of genes that are received from their parents, then passed on to their offspring. The offspring differs from the parent in minor random ways. If those differences are helpful, the offspring is more likely to survive and reproduce. This means that more offspring in the next generation will have that helpful difference. In this way, traits that result in organisms being better adapted to their living conditions become more common in descendant populations. These differences accumulate resulting in changes within the population. This process is responsible for the many diverse life forms in the world.
 
For more informations, check Wikipedia and the external links and bibliography.

evolution-tree.jpg

Evolution doesn't have a specific path. As Charles Darwin said, it's not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change. Natural selection and the random mutations can change the global biological map a lot. For example, the dolphins are actually descendants of terrestrial mouse-like mammals, who entered the water roughly 50,000,000 years ago. So... yeah... a mouse could evolve into a person... almost...

I think it's a good idea to begin this topic with a few older predictions about the future man.

If you think you know everything about Superman, think again. When Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel created Superman back in the 1930s, they conceived him as a literally superhuman creature, and probably as neat an encapsulation of the popular idea of the future of man as there could be. In the original version of the story, Superman's Krypton was a world where evolution was millions of years more advanced than on Earth and whose inhabitants were possessed of superhuman abilities as a matter of course. The early Superman's powers didn't include anything magical such as flying or heat vision, but he was an idealised and exaggerated version of desirable human abilities. He was incredibly strong, fast, impervious to anything short of a direct hit from a tank round, incredibly intelligent and could see through solid objects, because his senses were more developed than those of ordinary mortals.
 
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In 1933, anthropologist H. L. Shapiro wrote the article "Man—500,000 Years From Now". in his article, Shapiro said that the man of tomorrow would have a larger brain, rounder and smoother features, a simpler digestive tract (if eating hadn't been made totally obsolete), fewer and smaller teeth, greater height, and only eight toes.
 
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In 1893, H. G. Wells wrote a small article called "The Man of the Year Million", in which he speculated about what the human race of the year 1,000,000 AD would look like. The development of man's technology in the distant future has meant that he relies less and less on his body and more and more on his brain. The technology of the future will produce machines that will take care of all of the chewing and digesting of food, so that the human digestive system will be literally as simple as that of an intestinal parasite that soaks up its food by just sitting in a bath of nutrients. With the transportation systems of the future, legs, torsos, and practically all muscles will become useless and will wither away, until our descendents become huge brains that walk about on their hands.
 
Man+of+the+Year+Million,+Dinner+in+the+Y
 
H+G+Wells,+The+Man+of+the+Year+Million,+
 
But why wait so long? Why we can't just help ourselves to evolve from Homo Sapiens to Homo Superior? Are we supposed to wait around until evolution makes all the job for us? Not necessarily. In the '30s and '40s, Doc Savage was also one of the main inspirations for Superman, though Doc Savage was a fantasy hero with at least a nodding acquaintance with reality. Where Superman started out as a super-evolved being, Doc Savage was a pulp fiction ideal of what man could become through hard work, scientific training, and owning a secret gold mine in Central America. Able to outdo anyone anywhere at anything, he was the epitome of the idea that the way to become the man of the future was by willpower and exercise. From that point of view, everybody can evolve into Homo Superior!
 
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But why evolve into a Homo Superior, when you can build one? If you are familiar with science fiction, you'll have loads of options. You can try vivisection like Dr. Moreau, cosmic rays, radium treatments, gland transplants, serums, hormones, electric charges, drugs and even cybernetic implants. Those implants may add "paranormal" abilities in the people of tomorrow, like telepathy and telekinesis.

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Last but not least... :rofl:

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Remember that the future could be more surrealistic than we thought. According to some futurists, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers by 2045. Is it possible the humans of the future dehumanized after all?

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#6 KonstantinII

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 03:46 PM


 

 

In 1893, H. G. Wells wrote a small article

 

 

Which is mere science fiction. There will no longer be any evolution in the future because technology will be our main asset.

 

 


Remember that the future could be more surrealistic than we thought. According to some futurists, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers by 2045. Is it possible the humans of the future dehumanized after all?

You can't put your soul into a computer. And why would you need to do so anyway?


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#7 SpookyZalost

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 10:15 PM

Bah in my opinion humans will probably devolve in some areas and evolve in others, probably with cybernetic and biological augments along the way, we are nearing a time when we can take control of our evolution, still if the change in normal society over the last 50 or so years is any evidence if we don't reach some sort of break through sooner rather than later, we may end up like our ancestors, smart sure, but back to being cave dwellers.


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#8 Terring

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 03:48 PM

There will no longer be any evolution in the future because technology will be our main asset.

Evolution by natural selection will still exist, but it will be no more a mayor aspect that will determine our future.

You can't put your soul into a computer. And why would you need to do so anyway?

We don't even know what is soul. Is something supernatural and untouchable? Or it's a kind of energy, that we could reproduce in lab? In that case, it could be possible to build new life forms! A group of scientists made a medusoid object that is not alive, but act like a life form. So who knows? As about uploading yourself in a computer, I can think many good reasons to do it.

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#9 Alejandro24

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 06:33 PM

You can't put your soul into a computer. And why would you need to do so anyway?

 

Soul? We are touching the human as another species, which changes and evolves as matter. And soul doesn't evolves into another thing because is created directly from God. Now, as you puts your brain into a machine, your soul still alive, not sure what will be the reaction of God with this, but probably your soul will no suffer changes.


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#10 Cpt Johnny

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 07:07 PM

That sounds irrational, I mean how could a mouse become a person?

 

Humans and rodents share many similar traits not found in other taxa. For example, both human and mice are prone to addiction.

 

Conclusion: humans belong to a tiny branch of supraprimates, a superorder of mammals, the living members of which belong to one of the following groups: rodents, lagomorphs, treeshrews, colugos and primates (including humans).



#11 LexusInfernus

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 03:32 AM

On the future of humanity, I personally find Ray Kurzweil's views rather interesting. 2048, the singularity happens, the creation of 'smart' AI's speeds up the process of technological progress immensely. Humans and technology merge, bodies become things that can be modified extensively, and virtual reality can be pasted on actual reality. And thanks to AI's we can seriously increase our own intelligence as well, by combining the best of our brains with the best of computer brains (flexibility and speed respectively). 

 

But before that we will cure a wide range of diseases, use nano bots for medical purposes, fix our own genes, etc. 


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#12 Terring

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 01:40 PM

Now that's a future I want to live. But something tells me that this kind of evolution require more changes, like in education and in our priorities.

Speaking about merging, why not talking about cyborgs? A cyborg, short for "cybernetic organism", is a life form with both organic and cybernetic parts. The term was coined in 1960, when Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline used it in an article about the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space. D. S. Halacy's Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a "new frontier" that was "not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between 'inner space' to 'outer space' – a bridge between mind and matter."

The term cyborg is often applied to an organism that has enhanced abilities due to technology, though this perhaps oversimplifies the necessity of feedback for regulating the subsystem. The more strict definition of Cyborg is almost always considered as increasing or enhancing normal capabilities by adding new mechanical parts or replacing biological parts with artificial. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, like humans, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism and the term "Cybernetic organism" has been applied to networks, such as road systems, corporations and governments, which have been classed as such. The term can also apply to micro-organisms, which are modified to perform at higher levels than their unmodified counterparts.

Fictional cyborgs are portrayed as a synthesis of organic and synthetic parts, and frequently pose the question of difference between human and machine as one concerned with morality, free will, and empathy. Fictional cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical like the Borg from Star Trek, or as almost indistinguishable from humans like the Terminators from the Terminator films. Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart. For instance, they can have access to the Internet by using only their minds, lift cars and other heavy objects with easy, have new senses and even communicate with each other with telepathy.
 
cybwho.jpg

The idea of cyborg is not something new, like the Machine Man from 1924 illustrates. Writing in Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention magazine, Joseph H. Kraus & H. Winfeld Secor put forward their design for Homo Artificialis. This is an early model cyborg, where a man's organs have been replaced with mechanical substitutes that are hooked in through the carotid artery and jugular vein. As an added touch, the 1924 cyborg is also equipped with an oxygen tank and a supply of concentrated, predigested food for his mechanical digestive tract that takes self-sufficiency just a bit too far.

machine_man_1924.jpg
 
The first cinematic cyborg was probably The Colossus of New York (1958). This movie involved a man who dies and has his brain involuntarily installed in a robot body. Our cyborg hero seems to adjust to his condition relatively well, but it turns out that being a disembodied brain means being without a soul and hence makes poor judgments. The Colossus soon decides to help the world solve its nagging little problems, by toddling over to the United Nations building and mowing down innocent bystanders with his death rays.
 
colossus_poster.jpg

Back to reality. The General Electric Hardiman was the first serious attempt to build a powered exoskeleton, that could multiply the strength of the operator enough to allow him to lift 1500 lbs easily. General Electric had high hopes for Hardiman, envisioning it being used aboard aircraft carriers for bomb loading, underwater construction, in nuclear power plants, and in outer space. But by 1970, only one arm was actually made to work. It could lift only 750 lbs and responded according to specs, but the thing weighed in at three quarters of a ton and any attempt to get its legs to work resulted in a fit of mechanical St. Vitus Dance. Too much for too few...
 
hardiman2.jpg

So cyborgs belongs to science fiction and futuristic concepts, right? Not exactly. Are cybernetics something from the future... or already a reality?
 
In 2002, a British scientist called Kevin Warwick, had an array of 100 electrodes fired into his nervous system in order to link his nervous system into the Internet. With this in place, he successfully carried out a series of experiments, including extending his nervous system over the Internet to control a robotic hand.
 
In 2004, a British and completely color-blind artist called Neil Harbisson, started wearing an eyeborg on his head in order to hear colors. His prosthetic device was included within his 2004 passport photograph, which has been claimed to confirm his cyborg status.
 
In 2010, Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas create the Cyborg Foundation became the world's first international organization dedicated to help humans become cyborgs.
 
And let us not forget anybody who use robotic prosthetics to restore lost or damaged functions, organs, and limbs.

And there are more...
 
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For now, we can find tons of cyborgs only in movies, T.V. shows and video games. From Dr. Who's Cybermen and the $6,000,000 Man, to Robocop and Tiberian Sun's cyborgs.
 
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CNCFS_Cyborg_Reaper_Concept_Art.jpg
 

 

But since I love cyborgs, I'll be back with more concepts and pictures :thumb:


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#13 LexusInfernus

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 02:33 PM

Eh, if you like Cyborgs, you should definitely play Quake 4. It even has a bit where you get turned into one (also one of the most sickening things Ive seen in games). 

 

One thing Ive always wondered. Say that humans merge with machines, and we improve our brains by adding computer chips to them. A logical consequence would be that our thinking would increase significantly in speed, since computer chips are so much faster than our brains. How would we stay sane? We can have years worth's of thoughts in a matter of minutes. And if you use your thoughts as a way to also measure time, it would completely screw that sense of time over as well. 


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#14 KonstantinII

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:06 PM

In my future city, all mechanical implants into the human body are prohibited if they are for non-medical reasons, but people who have lost an arm in an accident can have a robotic one.


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#15 LexusInfernus

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 05:01 PM

What does it matter if you hold a computer in your hands or if you directly build one into your body? Why the distinction? 


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#16 Terring

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 04:19 PM

Eh, if you like Cyborgs, you should definitely play Quake 4. It even has a bit where you get turned into one (also one of the most sickening things Ive seen in games). 

Thank you for the suggestion. To be honest however, I'm not a big fan of games with so much blood and gore...
 
A logical consequence would be that our thinking would increase significantly in speed, since computer chips are so much faster than our brains. How would we stay sane? We can have years worth's of thoughts in a matter of minutes. And if you use your thoughts as a way to also measure time, it would completely screw that sense of time over as well.

I don't even know if it's even possible to imagine a society with fast thinking people. Maybe they'll eventually get bored like hell and seek for more thoughts and ideas to new horizons, like cyberspace and outer space. Or maybe they'll terminate themselves because they don't have something new to think. I just have no idea...

In my future city, all mechanical implants into the human body are prohibited if they are for non-medical reasons, but people who have lost an arm in an accident can have a robotic one.

Your city, your rules. In my cities, Sims are free to choose their life style. If they want to evolve into von Neuman machines or even abandon the real world and spend the rest of their life in cyberspace, they're free to do it.
 
 
Time for a few concepts with cyborgs.
 
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Inspector-Gadget-Cartoon-Wallpaper.jpg
 
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Cyborg_variant_2_by_mojette.jpg
 
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MANUALLY_ASSISTED_SEA_CYBORG_by_Keithwor
 
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Let me close with 2 cybernatic songs

Kraftwerk - The Man Machine



Klaus Schulze - Synphara (from the album Cyborg)


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#17 KonstantinII

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 05:53 PM

^^Some of those concepts look very disturbing.

You might add the terminator in there.

 

Robots will always be only tools that people can hold.


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#18 Terring

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:50 AM

Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future is a speculative book written by Scottish geologist Dougal. The theme of the book is a hypothetical exploration of the possibilities of the future evolution of humans.

 

Manafterman.jpg

For 200 years, modern humans morphed the genetics of other humans, in order to create genetically-altered creatures. The aquamorphs and aquatics are marine humans, with gills instead of lungs. The vacuumorph has been engineered for life in the vacuum of space. Its skin and eyes carry shields of skin, to keep its body stable even without pressure. Civilization eventually collapses, with a few select humans escaping to colonize space. The humans that manufactured these species degrade to simple farmers and following a magnetic reversal, were driven to extinction. Other humans, the Hitek, become almost totally dependent on cybernetic technology. With magnetic reversal imminent, those cyborgs built genetically altered humans to occupy niches. Genetically-altered humans include a temperate woodland species, a prairie species, a jungle species, and a tundra-dwelling species.

Since then, the genetically-altered humans must face a new phenomenon. They can no longer be genetically tweaked in a lab, so all modifications must naturally evolve. Many new forms resulted from natural selection. The result is surrealistic. Colonial humans with a single reproductive parent, otter-like fishing humans, sloth-like humans, saber-toothed predatory humans, and even parasitic humans developed through natural changes.

2ff.gif
 

Here are a few pictures of future men, probably the less "horrible"...

 

CP3L.png

 

Hitek1.jpg


"If you try to please everypony, you often times end up pleasing nopony, especially yourself. When somepony offers to do you a favor, like making you a beautiful dress, you shouldn't be overly critical of something generously given to you. In other words, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth"
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#19 KonstantinII

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 02:06 PM

Ok now that is really creepy and unrealistic. Very disturbing at best. Evolution just doesn't work that way. In the future people will be people, just smarter ones like Mr.Spock, and not animals. The human body is the most perfect form in nature. It is pretty bad to implant machinery or genetically modify. Genetic modification is really evil. It's one of the bad things about western civilization. And those pictures are science fiction as they contain no knowledge or science whatsoever kinda like war of the worlds. Typical hollywood style movie monsters.


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#20 LexusInfernus

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 04:17 AM

Indeed, why would we bother with genetically altering people like that? Especially when normal technology can do the job so much better? Why create someone who can live in a vacuum if its much easier to fill the vacuum with something? 

 

Books like that are more fiction than anything else. 


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#21 Terring

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:29 AM

How long will take humans to evolve? What will we evolve into?

Generally speaking, when talking about the evolution of our species, there are two modes of thought. Some people go on and on about how we will transition into super human-humans that have brains the size of small cars, amazing psychic capabilities, and Superman-like physical prowess. Others claim that humans are no longer evolving physically—that technology has put an end to the brutal logic of natural selection and that evolution is now (essentially) dead.

So, what’s the real answer?

As always, it is found somewhere in the middle. Undoubtedly, we are still changing. A 2009 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that, by 2409, women will be .7 inches shorter (2 cm) and 2 pounds heavier (1 kg). Of course, the scientists in charge of the study note that such small changes could be negated by something as simple as a change in diet. Does that mean that we might not change or evolve?

No, not at all. It just means that it is exceedingly hard to predict what those changes will be or when they will occur. You see, evolution is a very slow—painfully slow—process. So, despite evidence that human evolution still functions, it’s anyone’s guess where it will lead us. Artificial selection (such as genetic manipulation or eugenics) could effective destroy natural selection and allow us to modify ourselves…to determine our own course. Along these same lines, a lethal pandemic or other natural disaster (like a world ending asteroid) could suddenly make natural selection the prime determinant. Ultimately, in order to predict what future humans will look like, we need to be able to predict the future (something we can’t do, alas).

But let’s speculate about what could happen (note: I am not advocating any position or trying to make moral commentary about what should be done. This is a thought experiment about what could happen):

Hypothesis 1: Evolution essentially dies–

If populations aren’t isolated, crossbreeding makes it much less likely for significant mutations to take hold. And many argue that this is exactly where we are now. People travel all across the globe reproducing with people from different cultures. This means that specific genetic mutations are not cultivated and reproduced, but tamed and controlled.

Hypothesis 2: We will continue to evolve according to specific culturally driven trait selections–

We still have the ability to select who we mate with, and our choice is largely determined by cultural factors. For example, we value high intelligence, toned physique, large breasts etc. If these desirable traits remain somewhat constant, it is possible that they will lead human evolution. We will become smarter and more physically fit. Along these same lines, we already have the ability to monitor the fetus while it is still in the womb (noting desirable and undesirable traits alike). Individuals could decide to abort offspring with unwanted traits, or use genetic manipulation to ensure desired qualities. In both of these cases, traits that are culturally valuable are propagated.

Hypothesis 3: Evolution will become electronic–

It is possible that we will transcend our biological bodies and incorporate technology into out biological systems. People who see this as the fate of humanity assert that we will become “transhuman.” We may become cyborgs—part human and part machine. We may even scan our brains and transfer ourselves entirely into machines. Nick Bostrom, director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, states, “such beings would be able to travel at the speed of light as an information pattern, download themselves into robots for the occasional stroll through the real world, think faster when running on advanced operating systems, and cut their food budget down to zero.”

Hypothesis 4: Alien planets determine evolution–

If we ever make it off Earth, we are going to have to adapt to a totally new environment. This new world may have a different gravity, which could result in a decrease in muscle mass. Many alien worlds are hotter or colder than our own, and they receive different amounts of radiation from their stars. As such, the amount of melanin in our skin may alter, and this could change our skin color or give us super powers!! (I kid. Too much radiation wouldn’t give us super powers, just skin cancer or some other terrible thing).

Either way, most agree that a major change will be needed in order for humans to truly evolve. And we likely won’t even notice these changes as they occur. John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, notes that, “Despite up to 30,000 years of partial isolation among populations in places such as Australia and Papua New Guinea, human speciation did not occur….if you think about it, a small group of people went on a one-way voyage to [the Americas] 14,000 years ago, and then when new people [Europeans] showed up 500 years ago, they were still the same species.”

The only way to truly discover the answer to this question is to freeze yourself and wake up in a few thousand years, or even a few hundred thousand years (that’s how long evolution can take, unless you are a bacteria or something…which we are not).

Source: http://www.fromquark...we-evolve-into/


"If you try to please everypony, you often times end up pleasing nopony, especially yourself. When somepony offers to do you a favor, like making you a beautiful dress, you shouldn't be overly critical of something generously given to you. In other words, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth"
Twilight Sparkle


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#22 Terring

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Posted 01 January 2014 - 05:25 AM

A beautiful passage I found some years ago. Maybe the people of the future will be cosmic gardeners, instead of greedy killers. Source: Orion's Arm
 

 

Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2003 13:42:47 +0200
From: Anders Sandberg
Subject: A vision
(originally posted on the ExI list)

(Just something I wrote in the early northern morning, inspired by the fierce growth of the surrounding vegetation and some discussions about the need for values to meet green conservatism.)

A Vision

I have a vision of the future.

Within a fairly short time we will have the technological tools to manipulate matter at the molecular scale, making both manufacturing and recycling nearly perfect. Advances in artificial intelligence will enable more or less smart devices to act on their own, allowing teams of robots to build vast structures as desired or process enormous amounts of information in order to design solutions to many problems. We will have the tools to redesign ourselves and our environment according to our visions.

Soon the solar system will change beyond recognition. Surrounding the Earth space habitats with their own artificial ecospheres will orbit in vast bands. Within each there is room for millions of people to shape their own culture. Similar, but even vaster habitats are being wrought by the material of the asteroid belt and the cometary nuclei. Slowly a sphere is being formed by millions of habitats, solar power collectors and other devices around the sun drinking its life-giving energy and radiating communications of all kinds. In the end most of the solar output will be used by life rather than dissipate into the cold of space.

On Mars eagles soar above the Valles Marineris and dolphins explore the new Borealis Sea as ecopoiesis and terraforming makes it inhabitable. What started out as a apocalypse of comets guided to crash into the planet and self-replicating nanomachines producing greenhouse gases, breaking down carbonate rocks and freeing water first made the planet warm and wet enough for life . mostly genetically modified algae and lichens . to survive on their own. Gradually the life transformed the environment into something more and more terrestrial species could inhabit. Mars will never become a copy of Earth; the lower gravity, the red rocks, the uneven seasons, colder and dryer climate and the two moons will make sure of that. Over the eons life will adapt more fully to Mars until what started out as transplanted species will have become entirely new species that are truly native.

On Mercury an ecosystem of machines is thriving. Self-replicating machines mine the rocky surface, extracting metals and semiconductors they use to build solar collectors. Deliberately designed to evolve they are inventing an ecology of glittering artificial life in shapes unimaginable to human planning. Some solutions are as creative and unexpected as wood . a wonderful material with many desirable properties, but nothing that any engineer could deliberately think up . and serve as inspiration for the rest of the solar system.

In the seas of Europa adapted deep-sea lifeforms are slowly colonising the volcanic vents on the bottom of the sea. Most of them are variants of the ecologies around terrestrial volcanic vents, but strange new algae designed to make use of the weak light and heat now live beneath the thick ice. On Earth they have survived in their nearly unchanging ecological niche for hundreds of millions of years; on Europa their niche will likely persist for billions of years.

In the tar-like seas of ethane on Titan new forms of life designed from scratch are evolving. Instead of water they use hydrocarbons, and instead of photosynthesis they gather nutrients raining down from the clouds and the forces of the vast tidal flows.

And around the gas planets vast projects are underway to build ships that will bring the seeds of the solar system outwards to other stars. Fuelled by energy from the enormous solar collectors and mass from the gas atmospheres, they hold the collected information of the life of the solar system . genomes, human culture, the blueprints for new habitats. Are they crewed? Some might be filled with humans or human descendants, others by our artificial descendants or simple replication systems. Once they reach another system they will settle on a suitable asteroid and use it to build a larger base with room for greater minds, who in turn will use their stored knowledge and equipment to built yet larger and more versatile homes. Just as a tiny seed can unfold a few small leaves and roots that gives it the energy and nutrients needed to grow more leaves, more roots and strive towards the sun, the solar system seeds will bootstrap themselves into ever greater and diverse forms once they reach their destination and finally become adult civilisations.

Lets zoom outwards in time and space. From the perspective of the galaxy the yellow dwarf star on the outskirts of the Orion arm has never been unusual. But first it sends out a burst of strangely ordered radio signals. Soon afterwards it begins to change as if the solar system around it was turning into a globe more carefully using its energy for something. Nearly instantly . a few scant millennia . other stars in the vicinity begins to change in a variety of ways. A wavefront is expanding outwards turning empty solar systems and raw matter into something new and complex: habitats for life. In some cases this might be the terraforming of planets or the construction of habitats in space. In other cases entire planets are dismantled to build enormous concentric shells of energy collection, computing nodes and cooling systems that enable vast computer networks to house information ecologies far more complex than the biological one that once grew on the first planet. Here and there entire stars are disassembled to provide for longer lasting sources of warmth than they would naturally be. As the wavefront passes the galaxy changes, becomes a home to life and thought and not just to mass and energy.

And after it has transformed the milky way the wave continues outwards . to the Magellanic clouds, to Andromeda and the other galaxies in the local cluster, taking the vast jump to the Virgo cluster, embracing the local supercluster and beyond. This is my vision of the future: a future where life embraces and fills the universe.

One might argue that what I have described is not the triumph of life but the triumph of human culture and technology. But what is human culture and technology but an expression of life? The human species is just another species doing what it can to survive. In our case we stumbled on the unusual ecological niche of making tools to help us and eventually build our own ecological niches, something which was aided by (or perhaps caused by, causing or co-evolving with) our vast communications and thinking abilities. There are many species that use simple tools to survive better, or construct environments that please them . insect larvae assembling gravel coatings, birds picking caterpillars with sticks, corals constructing reefs. Are they in any respect different from our clothing, hammers and cities? A city is not just an artefact but also an ecosystem: countless other species have moved in and survive there thanks to the actions of the keystone species Homo sapiens. Given enough time natural evolution would likely produce adaptations to city life among the plants and animals just as bizarre and beautiful as the one seen on coral reefs and in tropical jungles. It is only because our cities are so young and not intended to be ecosystems (and because we do not pay attention) they appear impoverished and sterile.

It is true that humans will play a key role in this vision. But it is not primarily a story about the hegemony of humanity over the natural world. It is true that this vision has room for all varieties of human futures and ambitions, from quiet contemplation to vastening into godlike posthuman states. While the humans might consider themselves the rulers, they are unwittingly serving life by expanding its niches to new places, places where life would never have been able to go naturally. Evolution can never reach a local optimum separated from current species by a sufficiently broad desert of non-viable species; no matter what it cannot evolve the molecular machinery to build diamond skeletons, spaceflight or survival on Mercury. This is something that requires what is currently uniquely human, foresight and technology. Intelligence is necessary for the long-term survival and expansion of life. By expanding outwards (for whatever reasons) humanity brings with itself other species. Some as food and companions, some as freeriders and parasites and likely, when crossing great gulfs, many .just in case. to make sure no diversity is lost. Some might be visionaries wanting to save or expand life for its own sake, but the beauty is that not all humans need to be. A vision that required all humans to act as one would remain just a beautiful vision; a vision merely requiring that humans continue to do what it always has done is far more likely.

Pessimists among us might complain that in the past we humans have often destroyed the environment of life, and that this is also something that is likely to continue. But most of this destruction has been due to ignorance and limited resources: when you are half starving you do not care that your next meal is an endangered keystone species. It is thanks to the affluence and efficiency of modern technology we can reduce our ecological footprints and undo some of the damage. If one believes that mankind is always the destroyer, then my vision is not possible. But given that assumption no other positive vision of the future is possible, not even sustainability on the Earth. On the other hand, if one assumes humanity can take care of its biosphere (however imperfectly), then there is no hindrance to spreading that biosphere outwards and hoping for the best.

As I see it the word life should not be interpreted narrowly and parochially as our particular kind of water-protein organisation but as complex self-replicating and evolving systems as a whole. The machine ecology of Mercury, the methane ecology of Titan and the software living within the vast computing networks are all examples of generalised life. We will not just expand the niches of traditional life but also create new kinds of life . as experiments, as art, as adaptations. And these forms of life are equally worth our reverence and appreciation as the traditional wet kind. There is no fundamental difference between created and born life, except possibly that the former has a morally responsible .parent..

Some readers no doubt find my vision distasteful just because it replaces the natural with the artificial. There are those who argue that terraforming a planet is a crime against its natural environment. But when plants begin to colonise a newly formed volcanic island, is that a crime? Hardly, and it is seen as natural. Would it be a crime to deliberately scatter seeds on the island? It might have less of the appeal of surprise a natural scattering would have engendered in a human observer, but from the perspective of the plants and rocks there is no difference. Scattering seeds across the universe is the same thing on a vast scale. Perhaps most important, life remakes itself. A typical tool when left to itself will not change (except for some decay). Life reproduces and evolves, exploring new possibilities almost by definition. Even a strictly manufactured living environment will become something else given enough time. It will become born rather than made, but it could not exist without the initial manufacture. Humanity is both steward of life and a player in its emergence.

One might argue that this is just a .quantity is quality. vision, that the number of living things do not matter. Why convert teratonnes or matter into plants, animals and humans when only a few would be necessary? But the same argument suggests that we would be just as well off with a single patch of vegetation in an otherwise empty gravel desert as an entire meadow. One reason the meadow is better than the patch is that it can sustain more species and more complexity than the patch; it can be a part of the interplay between biomes. It is also more stable to damage and is needed to sustain large animals like horses. But it is also necessary to allow more uniqueness. As I see it life has an inherent worth compared to the matter and energy of the universe. It has the potential of growth, change and awareness disorganised rock and plasma lack. Due to its evolutionary and individual past each organism is contingent . it was shaped due to its genes and surroundings in an unique way that will never occur again. Each of us, each blade of grass or bacteria, is a kind of one-of-a-kind snowflake. I hope the universe will be filled with a snowstorm of these.

What about other life in the universe? In this ecological vision there is not just room for it, it is something to be sought out, cherished and spread just as we will spread our own kind. Life is life.

What about the alternative to my vision? Imagine the following .sustainable. vision: mankind contents itself to the Earth, remaining static either deliberately or by quietly dying out. Life continues on Earth, while the bodies of the solar system revolve as nothing has happened. Species come and go on Earth, while the sun slowly but inexorably increases in luminosity. In a few hundred million years the increasing heat overcomes the homeostasis of the biosphere and it largely dies out, leaving a Venus-like world of heavy smog and gravel. In a few billion years the sun grows into a red giant and engulfs the inner system. What is eventually left is either a frozen husk of slag orbiting a white dwarf or just a hint of extra lithium in the spectrum of the planetary nebula around it.

Is this vision desirable? It is the .natural. chain of events that will result if humanity does not change things. There is room within it for billions of species and thousands of grand civilisations. But it ends ignominiously and it is fundamentally limited.

On a larger scale there might be biospheres emerging all the time around distant stars: small stalks of grass growing in the dark soil of the Milky Way. But without intelligence supporting them they all shrivel and die before any chance of seeding. Each biosphere, filled with uniqueness and potential, will vanish without a trace, without even one conscious observer.

The desire to protect the natural is a desire to protect the contingent and valuable from the ravages of entropy . or just conservatism devaluing human ambition and creativity. Unfortunately the two are often confused. This vision is all about protecting and nurturing nature at its largest by means of vast human ambition. The triumph of the denigration of the artificial and deliberate would be not just the abandonment of humanity but also the eventual betrayal of the only chance life has to continue growing.

It has been said that growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. This is true, but it is also the ideology of the orchid. Without constant attempts to sprout seeds everywhere the orchid would die out. Even if it did survive at a guaranteed constant number it would not have any incentive to evolve. It is the constant struggle to produce more orchids that have made orchids evolve their bulbs and air-roots, their amazing flowers to entice insects and vast variety of ecological niches. It is thanks to growth and evolution that we achieve beauty.

I propose that we will turn the universe into a garden.


"If you try to please everypony, you often times end up pleasing nopony, especially yourself. When somepony offers to do you a favor, like making you a beautiful dress, you shouldn't be overly critical of something generously given to you. In other words, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth"
Twilight Sparkle


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"The wisest men follow their own direction" Euripides


#23 Terring

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 01:18 PM

More people from tomorrow pictures. Bless or curse?

 

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"If you try to please everypony, you often times end up pleasing nopony, especially yourself. When somepony offers to do you a favor, like making you a beautiful dress, you shouldn't be overly critical of something generously given to you. In other words, you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth"
Twilight Sparkle


9470289599_fc468492fc_o.jpg
9470289497_d9c79b51b1_o.jpg

Terring's Terrible Lots - Barsoom Project

"The wisest men follow their own direction" Euripides


#24 A Nonny Moose

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 02:10 PM

You will be assimilated.


 

 

Beware: Emancipated user.  No Windoze for me.
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#25 Cool_Z

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 02:35 PM

409729homeimage.png


Life's just finding ways of not dying...

#26 heat33330

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 03:30 PM

LOL! Unfortunately, that seems to be true in a few cases.  :lol:  



#27 Wiimeiser

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:04 PM

Here's some future man:

wb5o.jpg

xxm8.jpg

js4q.jpg

[umifp.jpg[/URL]

ghix.jpg

yji2.jpg

v0b7.jpg

Right? Right?

 

EDIT: Ohai, Marisa, stealing precious things I see...



#28 OcramSeattle

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 11:42 PM

Nanobots in my blood stream, high tech prosthetics (if I need any amputations), and possibly being turned into an AI when I die (possibly with access to MMO games) are the farthest extents I might go to become one with machines. If we are talking about fiction, then I would like to transfer my intelligence into a clone (possibly slightly altered for better physical attributes and ability for brain to be overwritten by my older one), probably around 8-12 years old (because of brain plasticity and longer lifespan). I am an epicurean now but would love to live a second lifespan as a hedonistic bodybuilder.


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#29 A Nonny Moose

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 09:13 AM

Considering all the current sets of allergies in our progeny, have we come to the point where we are unfit to survive?  Are we about to expire of overcrowding?  It is not unusual for organisms to die of this.  Evolution is, perhaps, getting ready to cough up a new homo superior strain?


 

 

Beware: Emancipated user.  No Windoze for me.
The teacher opens the door but the student must enter himself. - Ancient Chinese Saying
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#30 Cool_Z

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Posted 06 February 2014 - 01:57 PM

We are actually evolving backwards from quite a long time.

 

The security in life our society has built makes us need less wit and brain to be able to reproduce. Our ancestors were maybe less educated but much more ingenious.


Life's just finding ways of not dying...




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