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"Humans are Designing their Evolution" --Stephen Hawking


Astronaut-spacewalk-460x276

In the past decade, we’ve examined our Solar System’s orbit through the Milky Way to ask whether there may be clues to periodic mass extinctions on our planet. We've launched missions seeking out habitable Alien Earths and the existence of dark energy and have migrated from wondering if there's life on Mars to searching out and studying myriads of exo planets in the Milky Way and infinite galaxies beyond.

Physicist Stephen Hawking believes 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.

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.


The Daily Galaxy via http://www.centauri-dreams.org/

Comments

From my book "The Plain Truth About God!"

Learning might play an important role amongst the lower animals, but it is always a one-generational / one-dimensional lesson.
We are the only animal that takes this accumulated knowledge of all previous generations and then uses this as a foundation to expand and build.
This was the very first step, in the mists of our distant past, which started to set us apart from what we now refer to as the “lower animals.” The dominate influence of heredity on evolution is that given a reasonably stable environment, the focus is on the status-quo.
People, on the other hand, may use their inherited brains to make their own shelters and weapons, and even their own environment. Learning and traditions acquire a new order of importance.
We can say that as far as we are concerned, cultural evolution has overtaken the importance of genetic evolution. The progressive step that made humanity different from the great apes is that we no longer need any outside pressure to bring about change.
At some time in the past we ceased to adapt to the world at large in the conventional way and became self-propelled, generating our own internal pressure. We not only adapt to change, but in our own way we “make” change occur.

The possibility that we may alter the course of our evolution by using the untapped potential of our DNA is more proof that God doesn't exist

Could that be the new byline for the wheelchair company that Hawking bought controlling interest in?

Aren't we doing the exact opposite? Exterminating ourselves by our own actions through global warming?

I'd be more impressed by our wealth of knowledge and ability to control our evolution if they were making humanity wiser, kinder or more reasonable. They're not. We still kill indiscriminately, are mostly selfish, accept that more than two thirds of the world lives in wretched poverty and children starve, tolerate all kinds of corruption, cruelty and greed in the name of progress, national security or politics, and treat our homeground (earth) like filth, something even animals wouldn't do. Sorry, Mr Hawkings. Information does not wisdom make. It does not increase our ability to think logically or to make good decisions, and it certainly does not make us kinder. Unless we change our thinking and our attitude to each other, to the planet and to life in general, our brilliant 'evolution' will create a wealthy, healthy elite eating up the last of our dwindling resources and the rest of humanity struggling to survive on almost nothing. Great future for some of us! And if things get to bad, why, we can just take our perfect selves and our mass of information to another planet and do the same things there! Time to wake up, I think, and do something real.

As stefen haukings said human race begun 10000 years ago.Since then our DNA has ben evolving? I think our DNA is limiting our capabilitys. We can achive higher levels by breaking that limit.

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