New Discovery Key to Supermassive Black Holes
Galaxy Fans - Let Your Clicks Do Some Good

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



I should probably start writing a book about how every person who says there is no God and no afterlife simply is thinking of things in the wrong way...

Rebekah isn't completely full of shit. And this is definitely a time filled with "knowledge", or at the very least the illusion of knowledge, and if what Rebekah said is true about Jesus saying there would be this, then it makes me very curious about how he could know something like that...

Take lsd, mescaline or mushrooms and let your mind be thrown into the vastness that is the universe.

What tripe.

Similarly, those stuck in the intellectual aspect of mind (not limited to, but including science) are ignoring, or possibly cutting themselves off to other reality aspects. And this is the problem of science - everyone experiences and senses consciousness in themselves, but it can't be proved to their peers in the latest journal. The sooner this is fully embraced, the better for our categorization of, and thus, scope of knowledge.

I believe too that "Humans have entered a New Stage of Evolution", but it is drawn from a different sliver of data than Hawking. The above stated problem seems to be a mostly a mental (psycho-spiritual) one. Mental Health is the largest health problem facing developed society ( Why? There is more disease burden from mental disease than from all cancers combined. Why is this not more publicized? Why can science not solve the problems of mental illness (severe disease is certainly helped with pharmacological intervention - but with dramatic side effects)? Why are certain molecules off limits for psychiatric research? Why does the scientific community accept this dogma (with exceptions of course)?

It is obvious that science is missing something - a vital piece of reality information is not being factored into the equation. Someone as smart as Hawking should be able to see that better drugs (gene therapy, etc.) is only a one part of our evolution.

Can someone please Turn this genius ON?


[Prelude to previous post, which was cut for some reason]

The hardline, rationalist view is annoyingly too similar to the religious dogma these days. As the science side knows, but unfailingly forgets to apply to themselves, just because YOU can't see something does not mean it does not exist. Amino acids compiled in various formations and patterns organize matter into physical bodies (lifeforms). The sooner everyone in the world understands this the better. Religious zealots who dismiss the physical manifestation are ignoring part of the NOW reality-space that they exist in.

The venom with which some of you brainiacs attack Rebekah reveals your fears.... the realization that exists deep within you that we actually know NOTHING.

There's a great clip I saw awhile back containing an interview of Richard Dawkins by Ben Stein.

It's 6 mins long, but I think the questions are valid.

Most comments on this post are stupid (including this one...)

If you have a religious point of view and don't wish to illegitimatize yourself entirely, it would be best to not expression your personal metaphysical opinions as 'truth' upon those who aren't even discussing religion. If you have any self-respect, you wouldn't even interject your personal metaphysical beliefs into an article about books and intelligence. It's true ignorance, and you shaming whatever religion you wish to represent.

The elite will never let it happen. They are futurists but they want it only for themselves and they have the power to keep it that way. The rest of us will perish because we do not have the numbers of believers that are willing to resist them by any means necessary. They have us drugged up on everything from fluorine, to mercury to nitrates to prozac. We will not survive. The Zionists and the British elite have declared war on mankind and they will succeed because we thought it was all conspiracy.

Rebekkah is trolling these comments.

Please take care not to notice the troll and ignore their need for attention. The more you argue against them, the more enjoyment they get out of wasting your time.

This has been a message from your friendly neighbourhood Troll-dar.

I hope i evolve into iceman


You probably meant to say "He be your LORD and Savior", not "He be your LORD and Savoir"

The irony is thick.


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.

that's the dumbest thing i've read in a while. truth is subjective? no, that's the point of truth. truth always = fact.

Item on Prof. Hawkings observations on human evolution and comments there upon are intersting to read. What people are forgetting is that the human being is not just a scientific object. It has emotional and rational components and each individual possess wide variations between these two extremes. Universe has certainly not been created by science or man. We are only a part of the original intelligence that gave rise to things physical from something that is physically 'nothing'. What is that? Some call It God while i prefer to call It ' pure or vibration-free consciousness'. All matter and energy are just there because of vibrations in 'nothingness' of pure consciousness. The latter may be termed as differentiated form of the all pervaiding, always existing and non-destructable 'pure consciousness'. It is not open to current science for study as our methodology is restricted to physical existance only.
Today, science has postulated dark matter and energy that forms 96% of our universe and only 4% is our visible matter/energy. We are being constantly getting accelerated in infinite space by 'repulsive'gravity of dark matter and that content is called 'dark energy'. We are unable to study the constituents of dark matter as it is not amiable to any of our physical probes! The mystery lies in the creation of the universe through the generation of 'primordial matter' out of apparently nothing physical. Both dark and visible matter must have come out of that primordial mysterious matter. The candidate for it may well be some neutral quark like structures that latter evolved into visible matter as dark matter got frozen as such due to gradual evolution of our four force/ fields viz., gravity,strong nuclear, electromagnetic and weak nuclear in a sequential manner. The author has published a paper on " Mysteries of the Universe- a perspective" that is available on interest demand through Internet.

Rebekkah - hilarious. You might need to reread your Bible with your blinkers off and understand the symbolism and parables presented within - and then you'll see that there is no God in the sky and it doesn't matter if Jesus actually existed in history or not.

Seriously though, did it ever occur to you that perhaps "God" (i.e. all living things) "creates" by means of evolution?

"Jesus" is representative of the "perfect" human to which we all strive to become, but in fact he was "killed" by "God" because there is no perfection in evolution! It is a constant process!

Diversity is the goal, and not for everyone to be the same -- because it is from this diversity that genetic selection can take place.

"..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..."

Hmm.... sounds like Autobots, tranform!

To the people here shouting that we didn't evolve from apes but shared a common ancestor, i would like to stress you to get it through you thick craniums that humans are still APEs as are gorillas and chimpanzees. So our common ancestor would also have been an APE. Now if hawking had started with "Although It has taken homo sapiens several million years to evolve from the Gorillas/chimpanzees....", then you can start your hue and cry. You Apes.

Xeph you are arrogant enough to state emphatically that Hawking is wrong? We maybe smarter than we used to be but physically less able? Humans on average are significantly larger than they were even just 200 hundred years ago, with size comes strength. Try arguing a different point something pertinent to the discussion.

But i guess he should have used the term "other Apes" or "primitive apes" instead of saying that humans have evolved from apes, since humans have just evolved into another type of ape.We haven't yet become not an ape at least in the biological scientific sense.

You guys mock Rebekah, but how can you be so sure that she is wrong? Science teaches that a giant explosion resulted in this incredible earth perfectly positioned with its complex systems and delicate balance - operating in tight tolerances of a few degrees; perfect conditions for life to inexplicably appear for no reason and through no provable mechanism? That's like saying an explosion at a print shop resulted in Websters Dictionary. That's the best you've got and yet you act as though you have it all figured out? Some theories suggest that we are living in a big computer simulation. Some are convinced that aliens brought us here. Ok, so an invisible man that waved his hand and here we are? Why not. All of the theories of the universe are equally unproven, so why not open our minds to possibility and stop attacking each other. We just might learn something.

Science is the child of philosophy. Philosophy is the child of religion. Think how radical a concept divinity is, and how even more so in its infancy those many centuries ago. The same can be said for the next chapter of humanity's story. As ever there will those decrying something like this as fancy, or even heresy, but eventually they will be proven wrong when it happens. Welcome to the future, it's always frighteningly fantastical.

Then again we might just blow ourselves up first. (MELODRAMA)

Sorry to disappoint you Mr. Hawking, but you are wrong. Unless we write down all in stone like Egyptians, any small cataclysm could erase all things accomplished so far, but it will take more than that to stop human natural evolution. There is no reason to think our actual course of civilization will last more than 2000 years, that’s only a blink of an eye in terms of biological evolution. So you are fundamentally wrong.

Steve Hawing is absolutely right.
Axiom 1) The Human brain resulted from "classic" Darwinian evolution.
Axiom 2) The Human brain is increasingly allowing us to understand and manipulate ourselves and the world in a way that makes our offspring (Be they computers or whatever)far more likely to survive. Therefor...

If Axiom 1) and 2) are true then it should also be true that "Externally transmitted information" as Hawkings puts it, is a direct extension or continuation of classical darwinian evolution (Since this information originates in the human brain or from the creations of the human brain, which in turn evolved in Darwinian fashion.) Or put another way, we have evolved the ability to take control of our evolution.

However since "we" may be on the way to obsolescence it might be more correct to be more general and say that the process of the evolution of life has itself evolved to be consciously rather than "accidentally" directed.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)