Stephen Hawking: "Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution"
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July 03, 2009

Stephen Hawking: "Humans Have Entered a New Stage of Evolution"

Microsoft_surface_touchscreen_table1 Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes, the useful information in our DNA, has probably changed by only a few million bits. So the rate of biological evolution in humans, Stephen Hawking points out in his Life in the Universe lecture,  is about a bit a year.

"By contrast," Hawking says, "there are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA."

This means Hawking says that we have entered a new phase of evolution. "At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information."

But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred.

"I think it is legitimate to take a broader view, and include externally transmitted information, as well as DNA, in the evolution of the human race," Hawking said.

In the last ten thousand years the human species has  been in what Hawking calls, "an external transmission phase," where the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has not changed significantly. "But the external record, in books, and other long lasting forms of storage," Hawking says, "has grown enormously. Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes."

The time scale for evolution, in the external transmission period, has collapsed to about 50 years, or less.

Stephen-hawking Meanwhile, Hawking observes, our human brains "with which we process this information have evolved only on the Darwinian time scale, of hundreds of thousands of years. This is beginning to cause problems. In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library. By which time, many more books would have been written."

But we are now entering a new phase, of what Hawking calls "self designed evolution," in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA. "At first," he continues "these changes will be confined to the repair of genetic defects, like cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy. These are controlled by single genes, and so are fairly easy to identify, and correct. Other qualities, such as intelligence, are probably controlled by a large number of genes. It will be much more difficult to find them, and work out the relations between them. Nevertheless, I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression."

If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets. But this will be done, Hawking believes, with intelligent machines based on mechanical and electronic components, rather than macromolecules, which could eventually replace DNA based life, just as DNA may have replaced an earlier form of life.

Casey Kazan

Related Galaxy posts:

The 10,000 Year Explosion: Has Human Civilization Turbo Charged Evolution?
Homo Sapiens -The "Time Travelers" -A Galaxy Classic
“Hyper-Speed” Evolution Discovered
Bringing Ancient Human Viruses Back to Life: A Jurassic Park or Salvation?

Immense Journey

Source: http://www.rationalvedanta.net/node/131


Comments

Hawking says: "Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes."

Great, maybe now society will pay more attention to the theory of Memetics - the evolutionary model applied to replicatable information where "memes" are the data version of "genes" -- that Richard Dawkins came up with back in 1976.

http://bit.ly/XrYND

Memes were disproved years ago (has something to do with you needing FACTS to anchor TRUTH around) - when everything is a meme you undo everything, including science.

Sounded like he is talking about plasmids. Bioshock! Learn from games people!! Gene splicing = bad.

I'd just like to point out that Hawking is wrong when he says that we aren't changing much genetically these days. We are currently in a period of accelerated evolution. Our habitat has changed dramatically over the past few thousand years, moving from nomadic tribes to towns to cities. We're smarter than we used to be, and less physically able. We also have smaller teeth than we did just a few thousand years ago.

Memes have been disproved, with a meme of truth? Truth is subjective, events are not. Facts are events wrapped in perception. Truth is a meme that there is meaning to events.

There isnt, except which what you subscribe to. Memes are a very useful tool in understanding the transmission of information.

If you have a way to disprove memes are a useful tool, please post it instead of saying something which just makes a better case for memes existing.

What I'd like to know is how anyone knows what life was like thousands of years ago? Everything is simply a theory and therefore, cannot be proven. All we do is sit around and say "what if" instead of actually doing something right now to make things better. It's time to look at things like government systems, healthcare reform and other related issues. This is the reason we die. It is the way of the world that causes disease and two of the key players are speculation and disagreement.

If truth is subjective, how does someone prove the truth of memes being a useful tool or not?

What he's talking about in layman's terms (speaking to the dumbed down U.S. population here) is downloading your brain into a computer. That will be the next evolution of mankind. A lot of people are afraid of this becoming a reality. I welcome it.

Whether you believe in the concensus physical and biological sciences or your roots are of a more spiritual nature, you should agree that we human beings are fundamentally "information". The genetic data which was our foundation and the epigenetic (non-DNA affecting) environmental data which has formed us into the person we are can be modeled by a computer system. Yes it's the Matrix for real, and it's coming within most of our lifetimes. Prepare to live within our collective imagination.

>


Hello, I'm a Mac..
And I'M a PC..

:)

Marc Umbricht, what you're saying is partly true, but the rate of our evolution has not accelerated. For example, someone who is born weak is not less likely to survive and pass on his genes. Genetic drift is still around but natural selection is alot less important now.

We didn't "evolve from apes" - we had a common ancestor.

Fucking stupid way to start an story about evolution.

Fail.

Hawkings is just repeating what Ray Kurzweil has been writing about and saying for years. It is not an original thought.

This article starts off making a completely false statement: "Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the apes...." No evolutionary biologist believes we evolved from apes, but rather we share a common ancestor... big difference! Whoops!

I am not and no one is evolutionized. We are each one fearfully and wonderfully created. I have to stand my ground here and I pray for the saving of many souls. If we began as say from a single organism; why are some black, or white, or whatever race one may lay claims to. Why do some of have green eyes, or blue or brown? Where have the many different personalities evolved from? Elohim the creator said I Am that I Am. I knew each one of those I created before the foundations of the world came into being. Look at the state of our world and read a Bible ask the Jesus will open your spiritual eyes to wisdom He is no respector of persons. Whether you think me another zealous crackpot or not I cannot change the minds of those refusing to recieve what I am about to say, but if I do not try God would hold me accountable. I have often talked to Jesus and He to me. I have walked across the parking lot here at my apartments in broad daylight with an Angel.I have looked into the face of Satan and battled his many demons. This is the reality and if only God would allow everyone to see what He has shown me about what is headed our way I know that only cries for mercy would fill the Heavens. Go somewhere and get alone with Him, give Him your heart and ask that He be your LORD and Savoir. I am not concerned with how dark you think your sin might be as not many have been as vast as mine. His mercy and the blood He shed is more than enough. Things are jumping off like never before and it is my fervent prayer that all will find the narrow gate. Jesus said in the times close to the end that there would be much knowledge and no understanding. Call me the crackpot if you must, but I know that I know the truth and I did not evolve from anything other than one filthy with sin to righteousness through Christ Jesus. I have been to both Heaven and laid in the depths of hell. They are both very real places. He is: and it is because He is what He is that everything else is as it is.

REBEKAH:

This is not the place nor the time to be using religion for a LOGICAL argument.

Can we give Juan Enriquez (the person from which Hawking stole this idea) the proper recognition.

http://www.ted.com/talks/juan_enriquez_shares_mindboggling_new_science.html

Fast forward to 18:08

intelligent machines based on mechanical and electronic components, rather than macromolecules, which could eventually replace DNA based life _ WTF? is that? i enjoyed the rest of the article,.. but i don't think machines will replace DNA,... but yeah definitely, we can accelerate and modify evolution, give people denser skin, bones and muscles, make it so we can re-generate,.. you know, like roaches, so they could walk away from car accidents, and maybe even plane crashes. they could make it so that we get energy from the sun, and we could hear like owls, and see like eagles. we could be designed to be really light, like a Bird, and we could give people angel wings and they could fly, all that's possible if we could completely understand and manipulate DNA in a safe way

Geoff H:

We lives our lives the way we want. If we all were simply the same and didn't argue or disagree what would be the point? I mean maybe there would be a point, but we would not know till we became that species. However, we are not that species as we are social, we are opinionated, and above all we are curious. That's what science is for. For those of us who really want answers to seek them out. The rest of us can figure out world piece, watch a movie or whatever. If there is anything to be done about violence and death it's going to be changing peoples perceptions of others, and people simply having civil disagreements that don't end in killing. If anything science and discovery will lead to better medicines.

EDDIE - If we began as say from a single organism; why are some black, or white, or whatever race one may lay claims to. Why do some of have green eyes, or blue or brown?----

You're Stagnant ignorance is a stain on society

why don't you're god pop his head out into reality and tell everybody that it's bad to masturbate?

Some people have blue eyes because they are acendants of vikings or scandanavians there is a particular gene that represents Eye color and it has been identified for like a hundred years they have an entire science built on something that you don't agree with, evolution is the the scientific law of biology, evolution makes sense of the most complex of realities when applied. if you are a god lover, coming to fight the satanist evolutionists then you're fighting a battle similar to fish battling development of the jungle

Stephen Hawking is bitter at God and harnesses a grave unforgiving anger inside of him.

Sorry, memes have not 'been disproved years ago'. Time to get a clue.

Stephen Hawking doesn't harbor bitterness toward your god because. He has no need for your god and doesn't believe it exists. No one can harbor bitterness for an entity that doesn't exist.

Rebekah makes me laugh. Heartily. The ignorance is breathtaking.

> "By contrast," Hawking says, "there are about 50,000 new books published in the English language each year, containing of the order of a hundred billion bits of information. Of course, the great majority of this information is garbage, and no use to any form of life. But, even so, the rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA." <

how much of the written word is original? most literature whether fiction or non-fiction is repetitive and a rehash of preceding works. no one has a original voice or idea anymore. its all been said.

Rebekkah, the sooner you realize there is no God, no Heaven, and no afterlife, the sooner you will see that THIS existence is the one shot you've got. Make the most of this one and quit letting your human nature force you to believe that someday when all is said and done Santa Christ will come and give you all your rewards for having been a good little girl. Get to living, because death is always drawing nearer.


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