Are we on the verge of a future human evolution, one that isn’t, at least in it’s very core, “the survival of the fittest”, but rather “the evolution of the richer”?
Think about it: For much of the time throughout the human evolution we lived in societies arranged in castes, based on “virtual” barriers, such as bloodlines and wealth. On those times, one’s status within a society would be dependent on those two items.
Nowadays, at least in the so called Western World, we are very fortunate to live within societies where legally and morally everyone’s perceived as equal, and where, in principle, education, work and health is guaranteed through the State social services (except in the USA). It’s really not surprising to see that the Forbes Most Rich in the World list is mainly composed by self-made men and not people whose wealth and influence was inherited.
But how does this relate to ‘the’ next nature? Currently scientists, bioengineers, medics etc.., are studying and developing technology and alike in order to break free from the limits that nature imposed into us. Like in the music of the French duo Daft Punk: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. A leap in our own physical and thinking limitations. Only a scarce bunch of people with enough money will be able to buy such a technology and improve themselves to the point that they no longer resemble a human but they become something of a post-human entity.
These post-humans would be able to achieve things that are impossible to the rest of the people, having what in my eyes would be an unfair advantage in the whole spectrum of a society, in businesses and politics, deepening the already steep barrier between the rich and the poor, eventually preparing the ground for a new kind of caste society, a kind of society that humanity has never seen before.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Photo by Diogo Correia
Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!
This is a really interesting article. I am currently studying sculpture in London, and this is one of the areas that really interests me, and which I base most of my current work on. Where you were saying "...will we still give value to Knowledge? etc..?" is a very interesting point, and I was thinking furthermore that when these technologies become more widely available, there could well be a decline in their fashionability and maybe the more "natural" human may be more desirable. Also, when technologies like these become available, I don't see that the poorer will be competing entirely with the rich, as with money doesn't come the innate desire for prosthesis or in fact intelligence, I'm sure only a minority (at least at first) will want these prostheses... that is unless of course these enhancements become a fashionable fad, then every rich mindless "Paris Hilton-ite" will want one... then imagine what the world would be like! Also, the richer and arguably more privileged people have always had bodily extensions before the poorer, there is no real difference between an implanted mind chip and a current day computer, or phone, or even looking as far back as mechanical calculators or in fact any tool that was purchased with something at any time in the past. We are innately cyborgs.
"Nowadays, at least in the so called Western World, we are very fortunate to live within societies where legally and morally everyone’s perceived as equal, and where, in principle, education, work and health is guaranteed through the State social services (except in the USA)." Well, where I live, the government is saying that there is one race that should rank higher above all. So, indeed westerners are more fortunate in that area.
All human beings are natural, but some might slowly become more natural than others.
"As I see it, the fact that ‘evolution’ is a known concept for man unmistakably has implications on the functioning of evolution." - Couldn't agree with you more! Several philosophers dedicate their study to the matter of evolution, probably discussing and finding the answers and adversities in hypothetical utopian-evolutionary futures and excluding one's and another's even before they happen for various reasons. - "However, I am skeptical of the idea that the rich can simply buy themselves a better evolutionary future. " - Again my point wasn't an "evolutionary future". I don't believe these people would be buying and improving themselves for the sake of their offspring. No, they would do that for themselves and their survival within a certain society. - Forget things like "genetic future" or anything that implies a differentiation/break-apart within the human specie. The point I was trying to get across and to discuss was how these upcoming biotechnologies within the next 100 years might affect the way we organize our societies. What may change because of that? From the moment knowledge-chips are widely available, will we still give value to Knowledge? etc..? This was the type of questions I was hoping to raise. :\
As I see it, the fact that 'evolution' is a known concept for man unmistakably has implications on the functioning of evolution. However, I am skeptical of the idea that the rich can simply buy themselves a better evolutionary future. The difficulty is this: You would have to know what to buy first, but evolution is not that simple. What you thinks is an asset for surviving today, might tomorrow be a cause of extinction. Those trans-humans might one day wake up and realize they are burdened with hopelessly flawed and outdated body extensions.
This post reminds me of the movie Gattaca (1997) in which a genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/
It was never about genetic differentiation! That's at least what I tried to meant with the whole text and the reason for Orwell's quote :p
I wasn't really talking about evolution, in terms of a differentiation of the specie at the genetic level. - The point I was trying to make wasn't about a genetic evolution but rather an evolution at the society level. A Society where the richer acquire 'extensions' of their body, and through them, cement their status and position within a society. - They live longer, they think faster, they do X&Y that a standard human cannot compete with.Imagine you were doing exams to enter the University. Guy X, is the son of an important executive, his father had him implanted a memory chip: he can memorize, compute and recall several data to a degree impossible to a human being. You, a son of a middle-class family, didn't had this memory chip implanted into you, YET, you have to compete with this guy to the same place, and no matter how much you study, you will never be as good as him. Unless, of course, you have this chip implanted in yourself as well, but since this exquisite piece of technology is so expensive that is restricted to a very, very selected group of people, which your middle-class family doesn't makes part of..
nice theory, but inherently flawed. the 'lower' economic strata of society still reproduce at a much higher rate and make up a staggering majority of our species. that, and acquiring traits that help a single individual but not his progeny is not considered evolution. rich people may live a more comfortable lifestyle, but that is not necessarily an evolutionary advantage as they are reliant on the poor and middle-class for that status. it does little to help them spread their genetic influence. even if future medicine freed us from death, genes that live forever yet do not multiply are useless. due to the tendency for people to breed in their own economic class and the outright size of the lower class, this will always be higher for the modest of wealth. nature has yet to recognize a gimmicky invention like money in her grandest of schemes. in all the social turnovers our civilization has experienced in the past, the upper class has always shown to be the quickest to become extinct.