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Future of Evolution…

31 Oct

We talk a lot about Darwinistic theory of evolution and how we as humans transformed into the way we have. One thing that puzzles me is the future of evolution, especially for humans. I think, we have come to a conclusion that the current form is the most optimal form, in terms of bodily characteristics. Whenever we talk about evolution, I for one thought only about the smartness part which relates mainly to the evolution of brain. But, shouldnt it be true that, based on our current life style, our bodily characteristics as a whole should change as well ? If so, how abrupt such changes will take place? If it is gradual, starting from random cases, will it be interpreted by the currently trained medical professionals as an evolutionary change or a disease? Couldn’t it be construed that rising rates of diseases resulting in physical abnormality be related to random mutations misfiring as part of an evolutionary process? Given the fact that we suppress such random mutations, is it possible that we are thwarting changes to our evolutionary bodily characteristics? Can we speculate that, such suppressions could be an input to the evolutionary process resulting in no changes to our current form? Or, is it that, we have developed a medical specialisation to safeguard our evolution process as part of evolution to control something that could be detrimental to humans ? As usual, I dont know…;)

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11 Comments

Posted by on October 31, 2007 in From AM-KICKING blog

 

11 responses to “Future of Evolution…

  1. Mad Max

    October 31, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    @ mindframes: not sure about the concept…evolution is natural and not directed right??? am i mistaken??? i get the feeling ur suggesting a directed approach

     
  2. Mad Max

    October 31, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    to add to the first comment…evolution by itself is futuristic…hence “the future of evolution”??????

     
  3. Mindframes

    November 1, 2007 at 4:25 am

    I agree very much with your second comment..:)

    Well, about evolution… Think about what “natural” is? Isnt it an outcome based on the current state? How will an evolutionary outcome manifest itself? That is my fundamental question… My point is that, we mostly associate evolution with smartness and brain…

    In short, I am not making prediction on what should happen as part of evolution. All I question is about interpreting what is already happening…

     
  4. Manohar

    November 1, 2007 at 6:14 am

    @mindframes: I’m not sure if anybody has come to any conclusion that the current form is optimal.

    Also diseases are hardly evolutionary responses… most evolutionary changes are so subtle that changes can only be interpreted over 1000’s of years. Not every genetic change is evolution… a change that can be propogated to progeny consistently can only be construed as an evolutionary change.

     
  5. Mindframes

    November 1, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    @mano: That’s exactly where I am confused. I am not sure how we can categorize evolutionary change… Also, with respect to diseases ( I am not talking about all diseases), how do we know any abnormality of even the subtlest kind is evolutionary or due to other factors?

    If what you say is true, our comments that kids of today are much smarter than when we were kids should not be attributed to evolution… Isnt that right?

     
  6. Manohar

    November 1, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    @mindframes: One doesn’t know if something is evolutionary or not at that point in time. But in general diseases are macro changes… whereas evolution works in finer granularity that becomes macro over years.
    And yes, evolution need not mean getting better— hence the term evolutionary dead end 🙂

    I don’t think kids are smarter than a generation back. They grow in a different world and respond differently- which may awe us. My take 🙂

     
  7. Survivor

    November 1, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    @Mano,
    I don’t think diseases necessarily be macro changes.There are so many gene mutations causing various diseases which are at a micro level.

    About kids,I guess that should be a totally different blog.

     
  8. Mad Max

    November 2, 2007 at 5:42 am

    My two pence worth 🙂

    @ Mano:

    On your point about optimality – Evolution is a path. Optimality implies that there exists one outcome which is relatively superior to all other outcomes. Translating in this context implies that there exists one optimal path. Hence I think what mindframes is referring to is whether the path that evolution is taking is optimal or not? In principle I guess we need to believe that. Why? If not for anything else but lack of counter factual evidence. The problem that we face is that the only path that we know of is the path that we are living through. The other paths are imaginary. It would be nice if we could go back in time through another path and see which was better!Hence the way I look at it, since we dont observe anybody going on other paths, there is no question of optimality.

    On your point about diseases – I dont know what you mean by macro changes. Every process evolves over time. Change is a random process which can be viewed as evolution. A disease too can evolve and as survivor points out it can definitely be at the micro level. New diseases keep popping up now and then and that can be viewed as evolutionary changes. What say u???

    @ Mindframes:

    On your point about kids – I do not agree that kids today are any smarter than they were two decades back. Again it is purely lack of counter factual evidence. Every human being is different. A child today cannot be thrown back in time to see how he/she would have fared in the 1970’s. Hence a strict comparison is impossible. The usual methods of comparison that we follow are based on the principles of matched samples, where different individuals are matched based on their characteristics and we assume that a child with similar characteristics today and in the 1970’s can easily be switched. However that assumption is quite strong and I dont think a perfect comparison can ever be made.

     
  9. Manohar

    November 2, 2007 at 7:54 am

    @survivor: True, gene mutations do cause diseases., but for it to be evolutionary the same mutation should be passable to the next generation. And in some sense I suppose that happens too…

    Good point.

     
  10. Mindframes

    November 2, 2007 at 6:39 pm

    @mad-max: I agree with you and mano on the fact that kids of today are not any smarter than they were a decade or two back… Then, the next question would be, where do we draw the line between innovation and technology to evolution of mankind… Some of the major breakthroughs have happened over the past 100 years. Should we just attribute it to the new scientists having a better foundation/base to experiment OR that the new scientists are smarter?

     
  11. Mad Max

    November 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    @ Mindframes: Here is how I think of this. Genuinely smart people who contribute to the evolution of technology (technology here means any field such as statistics, engineering, economics etc etc) do so with a point of reference. For instance what was new in 1950 is now a well understood theorem today. Hence a new idea is developed now, which will be a well understood theorem tomorrow.

    Breakthroughs happen not just because an individual is smart. It is also because there has been considerable debate and literature by thousands of others who have worked in this field. Hence the credit to the contribution should also go to those researchers who pointed the current researchers in the right direction.

    To be more precise. Suppose a PhD student in the 1980’s did path breaking work today. It is not only because of his individual brilliance but also the brilliance of his peers and teachers. This does not mean that his teachers who belonged to the earlier generation were less smarter.

     

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