Setting artificial genetic selection/editing aside, what human evolutions might happen?
I think blue eyes will be extinct around 5,000 years or earlier. I imagine Caucasian skin may also disappear around 10,000 years due to racial mixing and/or fairer-skinned people having a rougher time in a hotter, sunnier world.
25,000 years in future? No ideas.The Neanderthals were pretty much absorbed into the genetic mainstream about 28,000 years ago but they were outcompeted for different reasons than I imagine modern humans would be(?)
In ~100 years, we will either be engineering our bodies, or we will transition to another form. Either machine bodies, or bodies made of energy, or something else.
I think evolution via natural selection is almost over for us (in part because once a nation obtains middle income status, people stop having more than 2 kids per woman). Thats like someone in 1500AD predicting what kind of horses we’d ride 5,000 years from now.
Assuming you don’t factor in the advances in technology, sadly human evolution rewards people who procreate more. And people who procreate more tend to have lower levels of intelligence since smarter people weigh the options of procreation and can build functioning societies better. So right now natural selection is selecting for lower intelligence people. That trend would continue. If you ignore technology, we’d probably breed until we were too dumb to maintain technology and have to revert to an agrarian society.
“Machine bodies” is at least a real thing, even if 100 years is wildly ambitious. But “bodies made of energy” is complete gibberish. It is a concept from bad space fantasy and has no meaning whatsoever to real science and real reality.
Explain how. Isn’t evolution based on who procreates more, and who has more children survive to adulthood, and who has more of those children procreate more?
If so, it seems that once a nation achieves a per capita income of about 6-10k that the playing field more or less levels.
Granted there are differences. A place like Hong Kong with 1.2 TFR will not have as many progeny as a nation like Israel. Over the generations that’ll make a difference.
My assumption is that whatever biological limitations we have will be bypassed in the next century or two. So the idea that whoever procreates more in our biological bodies determining our future is going out the window soon.
Yes it is, for the time being. Both within and between nations the fertility rate of the less intelligent, less educated and more dysfunctional tends to be higher.
Which again, probably doesn’t matter much. I am assuming we are a few decades away from bioengineering and machine intelligence that can expand human cognition to the point where innate biological cognition differences seem quaint.
Indeed, my only real regret in life is that I won’t live long enough to see all the neat technologies that are coming our way.
Horrible things will continue to happen and there will be temporary reversals but I’m optimistic that the general trend is for the better.
I also think trying to predict the future is fun but futile, we really have no idea what is around the corner, I certainly didn’t expect to be communicating ideas with people all around the world from the comfort of my living room when I was growing up.
Intermixing of populations would (and will, barring disaster) lead to a darker species overall, but global warming isn’t going to make it sunnier (unless it causes a large decrease in cloud cover.) But for the “barring disaster” part, that assumes thousands of years of continuing fairly casual mass movement through different latitudes and continued modern nutrition, medicine and housing. If there is a collapse of the global civilization, differences in skin pigmentation will persist or re-evolve over thousands of years for the same reasons that they evolved in the first place. Which means back to a tendency towards lighter skin in higher latitudes and darker skin in lower latitudes.
Good point. What I meant would was that there would be fewer extremely light skinned people–I didn’t conciser that there would also be fewer extremely dark skinned people. So less Seal’s teeth but also less Seal.
They will all be wearing color coded pants suits or coveralls that will tell you on a moment’s glance just what their role in this shitty SF movie is. Fashion ended after the Kardashian revolt of 2023.
This posts demonstrates some fundamental misapprehensions about genetics and evolution. First of all, even assuming a more-or-less homogeneous admixture of different haplotype groups, genes in general will not disappear or become “extinct”; the gene variant that permits non-brown irises (HERC2) is recessive, but will remain in the gene pool indefinitely unless selected out, and will be expressed whenever two recessive genes are matched, which for parents who both carry the recessive will be 1:4. There are actually multiple genes involved with determining iris pigmentation which permit significant variation in eye color, and wide variations in eye color can be found in numerous ethinic groups, particularly those in cultures on the Silk Road trade route for obvious reasons.
The lack of melanin production which produces pale skin (“Caucasian” or “Caucasoid” is actually a meaningless and misleading term in the context of describing people with a Northern and Western European ethnic heritage) is a is the result of a number of different genes which have incomplete dominance; that is, the hue of skin color and distribution of is not an on-off toggle but is a function of the activity of melanocytes, and is actually controlled to a significant degree by hormones; as such it is subsceptible to gene regulation and can produce various degrees of pigmentation depending on diet and health. The admixture of different pigmentation genes does result in a typically intermediate coloration between the parents but there can be significant variability even within children who are born to parents of the same ethnic background. A roughly homogenous admixture of ethnicities would produce a range of skin color darker than that of Scandinavians and lighter than that of Nilotic peoples but would not just be a uniform light brown hue. At any rate, given a healthy diet with complete nutrients including Vitamin D complexes and typical urban lifestyle in which construction and clothing provides protection from sunlight damage means that the effects of natural selection on skin coloration are essentially inconsequential; aesthetics and personal preference/bigotry are more likely to be the driving factors.
In terms of human variation, the mutations and gene drift that has created distinct haplotype groupings and the associated ethinic appearances have occurred quite rapidly in evolutionary terms, on the order of just a few hundred generations or less. This is in part due to founder genetics, where a single variation or dominant mutation can drive differences in the population quickly, e.g. red hair. The whole of human genetic variability is actually quite small, and the genetic variability of non-African ethinic groups all together is far less than it is for native African ethnicities even though “whites”, “Asians”, “Amerindians”, et cetera are considered quite distinct in appearance. (You’ll find that Africans, despite being lumped together in the general category of “black” or “Negro”, see a wide variation in appearance of ethnic groups across the continent which is quite apparent to anyone who has spent time or lived in Africa; and among “mixed” descendents of Africans in other cultures there are still wide variations in appearance despite the admixture of various African, European, and other ethnicities.) I don’t think it possible to speculate on future appearance over ten or twenty thousand years even absent of any deliberate selection or modification.
There is no way to set aside the effects of gene modification and directed selection for desired traits, as these will almost certainly play a key role in the future of human evolutionary development. Most of the factors that drove natural selection of physical appearance and functional phenotypes have little role in modern life; being taller or a faster runner does not mean that you will eat better, having narrow hips does not mean women will not be able to bear children using modern medicine, et cetera. One could argue that intelligence is still favored from a reproductive standpoint but even that isn’t guaranteed as fertility is negatively correlated with measures of intelligence (although survival of offspring is positively correlated with intellect). Intelligence has other negative correlations including higher rates of anxiety and depression, and in general there is little concrete evidence that people are becoming more intelligent with industrial civilization notwithstanding the effects of pollutants like tetraethyl lead or residual mercury.
We will likely be engaging in some degree of genetic filtering or enhancement, although I would hesitate to put any particular timeline on it as there are a variety of different technologies to be developed as well as much greater knowledge of the human genome and epigenetic factors that govern gene expression than we have today. Living or working in space, outside of a terrestrial environment, would almost certainly require significant changes right down to the cellular level to accommodate the environments and problems encountered in freefall or on the surface of low gravity worlds. I think any speculation we can make today about what that would look like would be about as accurate as a pre-transistor computer scientist would predict of modern smartphones; we just don’t know what the capabilities will be, or what we might desire in a future transhuman form other than very general statements about greater intelligence, emotional regulation, and physical resiliance.
I think entirely synthetic “machine bodies” are unlikely, not only because it is more flexible to modify the existing human form but also because the “brain in a box” notion of transferring a brain or consciousness to a machine body misses the fact that the brain and central nervous system are a continuua with the rest of the body. There is no part where the CNS stops and the body begins, and a brain that is not getting adequate nervous stimuli and feedback will start to hallucinate it. (In the minds of some, everything we perceive is a “hallucination” insofar as it is a reconstruction that the brain produces by integrating a wide range of disparate sensory information.) And frankly, before technology is sophisticated enough to produce a mechanical simulacrum of sufficient fidelity to behave like a body we’ll probably find that it is easier to modify or synthesize biological-type machines to do work. The future is not aluminum and plastic, but carbon and amino acids.
“Bodies made of pure energy” is a science fiction trope that doesn’t really have any physically realizable form; there isn’t really any way to create a stable self-regulating system that is “pure energy” like heat or light, without some kind of physical substrate. Bodies could be made in wildly variable form although altering the brain and its connections while retaining something that looks and acts like a human consciousness is more complex than people often realize, and would probably dictate a form that looks more or less human notwithstanding the social necessities of maintaining facial expressions, vocalizations, et cetera that are hardwired into our brains by tens of millions of years of primate evolution.
This was addressed at length in Stranger on a Train’s post, but basically, genes are digital, not analog. No matter how much you mixed the ancestry of people a gene for blue eyes remains a gene for blue eyes. It might become less common for two people with such a gene to come together and make a child, but the gene will not be extinct and blue eyes will not entirely disappear from the gene pool.
Likewise for pale skin - or extremely dark skin. (Funny how it’s always expressed as “white” skin disappearing, never “black”…) Human skin color will probably become even more variable than it already is, but the extremes will still occur. Just not as often.
The singularity is a fantasy. Yes, humans will eventually evolve into something else (or go entirely extinct) but it will not be “bodies made of energy”. I think we’ll see more and more cyborgs as prostheses become better, but I seriously doubt there will be a wholesale move to lop off perfectly functional and fine body parts to replace them with machinery.
The less intelligent, educated, and more dysfunctional people might procreate more often, but their offspring also have a higher morbidity and mortality rate as well. That tends to balance out their higher rate of successful pregnancies.
This is just some kind of messianic fantasy, very little different from religious fantasies.
Actually IQs are rising all over the world, not falling. So the evidence doesn’t support your contention.
It’s also a mistaken fantasy, that poor people are stupid. This time it’s an an arrogant Ayn-Randian fantasy. It’s the same kind of over-simplistic social darwinism that led to Nazism. This is not an exaggeration. The same simplistic argument has been made since the 19th century. At that time it was supposed to be the Irish, the Italians, the Chinese who were stupid and having too many children. Today racists say the same thing about people of color. It’s just flat wrong.
Poor people have more children, not because they are stupid, but because, without social services and money to fall back on, that’s the only way they can have any kind of security.
If you give poor people the same opportunities as the rich, and they succeed just as well. Often poor people need to be more creative than the rich just to survive. You usually see that with immigrants from poor countries who come to a wealthy country. Mostly they work hard, do well, and quickly improve their standard of living.
You’re right, I should have looked closer at the recessive vs. extinct aspects of eye color. From what I can gather 40-50% of Americans in 1950 were blue-eyed, today it’s around 17% (worldwide it’s 8%). Most sources attribute the relatively rapid decline in the U.S. in large part due to increased out-group marriage.
From a terminology standpoint, genes do not become “extinct”. Extinction is a process that occurs at the species level. Genes can disappear due to selection, genetic drift, or replacement by preferable mutation, but in an evolutionary static environment (one without strong selective pressures) for genes distributed in a large population, the likelihood of disappearance is small even for mildly adverse genes, e.g. those that do not result in death prior to reproduction.
The idea that recessive genes will disappear is a common misconception and is often promulgated in popular science media, e.g. the disappearing blonde gene or the notion that redheads will become “extinct”, and of course there are many ‘scientific racists’ who fear that the general admixture of ethnicities will result in some kind of dilution of intelligence, morals, et cetera even though there is no factual basis for this claim. Even the genetic markers of Amerindians, who suffered near-extinction pandemics with the arrival of European explorers and settlers, are found widely distributed in current American populations to a measurable degree. Greater admixtures actually preserves genes via their wider distribution instead of being restricted to a small and isolated population that can die out or subject to adverse homozygosity through inbreeding.
I question whether the claim that “40-50% of Americans in 1950 were blue-eyed” but if true it would be the result of distinct populations of immigrant Germanic and Scandinavian heritage which were at most two or three generations away from emmigration. The mutation that allowed for blue eyes appears to have a single origin and is generally recessive so it isn’t suprising that it is not commonly expressed in the population outside of Northern and Western Europe, but it is about as likely to disappear from the human population as cleft chins or attached earlobes. The study of genomics is vastly more complex than is generally indicated in basic life sciences classes, and any factoid you see about how a single gene controls some specific behavior or key aspect of appearance is almost certainly oversimplified and quite often flatly wrong or at least vastly misleading.