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Thread: Neo-Human

  1. #1
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    Neo-Human

    G'day everyone,

    I've spent the last week or so reading the threads on this site and was compelled to sign up so I get in on the heated discussions, so for the majority who I don't know, hello

    Now to the point of this thread. My girlfriend lent me this great DVD I watched the other night called "Waking Life", I think some of you have seen it. And I watched the scene with Eamonn Healy discussing cultural evolution. Admittedly a lot of it didn't sink in until I began pouring over scripts on the net:

    http://strivinglife.com/words/post/W...e-Lessons.aspx

    But my interpretation of what he was discussing, in it's simplest form, was a comparison between the traits of physical and cultural evolution. His argument being that as physical evolution has drastically increased in speed:

    Single celled organism - 2 billion years
    Primitive Man (Humanoid) - 6 million years
    And man as we know it through the past 100,000 years

    So would the development of our cultural behavior until such a point that we would see cultural evolution taking place in a humans lifetime, or even in a generation. Because this development would take place in such short periods of time it would be an evolution less subject to societal pressures and beliefs. This consequently would create a "neo-human", whose behavior and consciousness was unique to them in ways that can only be theorized.

    Healy then went on to optimistically discuss the possibility of a new era, one of "justice", and "loyalty" amongst humans but what else are the potential ramifications of this theory of cultural evolution? Could we potentially see a negative impact on society? Or perhaps the evolution of both positive and negative traits, essentially creating the world we live in now? Or would it be something completely unexpected?

    Or as a final possibility have I completely missed the point of his argument? Can I get my 10 minutes refunded?

    Slater

  2. #2
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    Re: Neo-Human

    Something has got to change and every generation might not be too often. In my lifetime I have seen the invention of Color TV, the internet, space exploration, nuclear power plants, etc. - the list is quite long. The only way we could evolve into what we are now is to go backwards first (which we may be doing). The neo-human may be nothing more than a vegetable, but there is always hope.
    Last edited by Snoop; February 23rd, 2008 at 04:54 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Neo-Human

    Slater - G'day from this POM (Prisoner Of Millbank - written on the backs of the prison uniforms of those about to be deported to your fair, biting and stinging mainly barren land).

    I reckon that there could well develop in time, what we might refer to as 'super-humans' in both cognitive and to an extent physical ability. There is a school of thought that perceives a branching into two main sub-species, one short and physically puny with a large head and great cognitive processing ability, and the other taller and more physical with less intellectual processing capability. I tend to pour cold water over this idea, since cross-breeding would dilute the pureness of any particular development in evolution, other than a fairly generalised one.

    ps. Snoop - As for 'going backwards', there are many true words that were first spoken in jest!
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  4. #4
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    Re: Neo-Human

    I'd have to agree you Fruit, it would seem almost inevitable that a "neo-human" could not remain "pure". Never the less I was curious to see if this had been discussed before and what conclusions people might have drawn. I guess it's the kind of discussion that can't be argued with evidence as it's mostly hypothesizing variables which would account for the isolation of neo-humans allowing their new characters to develop. In any other circumstance it would seem, as you said, unlikely to occur.

  5. #5
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    Re: Neo-Human

    Have you considered the possibilities of genetic engineering? Once that becomes possible, then the direction of Human Evolution becomes limited only by the imagination and the pocket book.

    I can see corporations paying for someone ot be genetically altered to work for them for X period of time...

    Or similar venues...
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

  6. #6
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    Re: Neo-Human

    Quote Originally Posted by Slater
    But my interpretation of what he was discussing, in it's simplest form, was a comparison between the traits of physical and cultural evolution. His argument being that as physical evolution has drastically increased in speed:

    Single celled organism - 2 billion years
    Primitive Man (Humanoid) - 6 million years
    And man as we know it through the past 100,000 years
    I disagree with that conclusion. The reason being, that in my view at least, evolution starts with mutation, which starts at the molecular level. Molecular changes translate into the greater physiological changes that we can see with the naked eye.

    From this standpoint, there really hasn't been that much change at all in 100,000 years or more. Humans share the same basic body plan and gene repertoire as any other mammal. Sure, there have been changes like increased brain size, the development of walking upright, but in comparison to changes like the development of new organs or metabolic pathways, there hasn't been that much.

    And you go back even farther, you run into the Cambrian Explosion, in which we see with in a very short time span the development of far more diversity than really any other point in evolutionary history.

    So I disagree with the idea that evolution has been accelerating over all these millenium. Rather I'm partial to Gould's idea of punctuated equalibrium, the idea that evolution goes through spurts.
    So would the development of our cultural behavior until such a point that we would see cultural evolution taking place in a humans lifetime, or even in a generation. Because this development would take place in such short periods of time it would be an evolution less subject to societal pressures and beliefs. This consequently would create a "neo-human", whose behavior and consciousness was unique to them in ways that can only be theorized.
    How have we not seen culture evolve in our lifespan? Actually before that, lets take a step back and ask a more basic question. Is cultural evolution equivalent to physical evolution? In other words, does it operate under the same mechanisms as physical evolution.

    I don't think it does. Certainly it changes, but with physical evolution you have a discreet mode of inheritance and a selective force that can be measured in a fashion. I don't think you could say that either one is true of human culture. Culture does not come in discreet packages. Culture itself is not discreet in anyway. its a generalization for a collection of ideas and practices which can be quite different from one another. And the process of change is very much influenced by the wishes and desires of individuals.

    So I really don't think that we can make an accurate comparison between the two. You can talk about how the universe evolves, but its not directly comparable to physical evolution, even though it has an influence on physical evolution. And while physical and social evolution influence each other, they are not directly comparable.

    That being said, compare American culture from the 40s to that of the 60s to that of today. How is that not cultural evolution, and for that matter, cultural evolution in the lifespan of a 70 or 80 year old individual? I think you have an even more drastic contrast if you were to compare China circa 1940s with China today. They literally went through a cultural revolution that puts ours to shame.

    Finally, how exactly would a rapidly evolving culture be free from societal pressures and beleifs?

    How is it even possible to have such an evolution? Culture, by definition, encompasses society and includes the beliefs of that society. You cant separate them.
    Healy then went on to optimistically discuss the possibility of a new era, one of "justice", and "loyalty" amongst humans but what else are the potential ramifications of this theory of cultural evolution? Could we potentially see a negative impact on society? Or perhaps the evolution of both positive and negative traits, essentially creating the world we live in now? Or would it be something completely unexpected?
    Beyond a more rapidly evolving culture, what other changes does he propose will happen that will enable something like this to occur?
    I typically cite original research papers and reviews that are available only to a personal or institutional subscriptional. If you wish a PDF copy of the papers I cite, send me a request.

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    Re: Neo-Human

    Chadn, that was one thing I found that contradicted Heely's belief. I didn't understand how genetic mutation (assuming that Darwins theory of evolution is the most plausible form of evolution) could essentially increase in speed as it seems to be a random or chance event. He also drew a comparison between the physical evolution traits and the cultural evolution traits as follows:

    'Now, what you've seen here is the evolution of populations, not so much the evolution of individuals. And in addition, if you look at the time scales that are involved here -- two billion years for life, six million years for the hominid, 100,000 years for mankind as we know it -- you're beginning to see the telescoping nature of the evolutionary paradigm. And then when you get to agricultural, when you get to scientific revolution and industrial revolution, you're looking at 10,000 years, 400 years, 150 years.'

    I didn't really understand the relevance of this comparison, but thought I'd enter it on the site to see if anyone else had discussed this, or had a greater depth of knowledge relating to it than I did. Several sites gave links to this wikipedia page saying it was very closely linked to what Heely believes and studies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technol...erating_change

    Currently I don't plan on reading through it myself, but if you're looking for more detail on this theory, that would be the page to check out.

 

 

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