The concept of evolution is one of the most intriguing scientific concepts. It is a theory that describes the process by which species evolve over time, with new genetic variations favoring adaptation to environmental change.
Many people believe that modern humans have stopped evolving because civilization has supplanted natural selection. However, there are other forces influencing human evolution outside of natural selection.
Humans will be cyborgs
The term ‘cyborg’ is usually attributed to science fiction films, but the idea of combining biological and mechanical parts is not new. In fact, humans have been wilfully augmenting themselves with non-biological parts for decades.
Associate Professor and Roboticist Matthew Joordans from Deakin University explains: ‘Generally speaking, I would say that any augmentation that’s part machine and part human, albeit with human brains, is definitely a cyborg. That could be a grandparent with a pacemaker, or a child with a cochlear implant. There are also people with retinal implants, enabling them to see again.
But how often do we see cyborgs on television, film or in real life? ‘It’s not something that we think about too much in everyday life, but it’s definitely happening’ says Associate Professor Joordans.
‘There are high profile cyborgs out there, like Arne Larson who carried the first pacemaker in the world or Jeroen Perk who implanted an image sensor in his eyeball to see 40 pixels.’
He also mentions Moon Ribas who had a sensor implanted in her elbow, which allows her to feel seismic activity. In this case, it was just a prank, but under our refined definition, she is a cyborg.
Cyborgs are generally portrayed in movies, TV series and comic books as superhuman or incredibly strong, or with artificial senses, computers or weaponry. They are also used in military training.
In a more realistic context, a cyborg is someone who has had medical procedures such as artificial joints or an eye lens replaced with artificial ones. It is possible to graft artificial parts into a person’s body but it is a dangerous and risky procedure.
Although cyborg technology will bring many benefits, it will also pose some challenges. There will be political and social issues to resolve, especially with the emergence of AI (artificial intelligence).
Humans will conquer infectious diseases
Infectious diseases, caused by viruses and bacteria, are among the world’s most significant challenges. They have impacted civilizations, wars, and migrations for millennia. Great epidemics, such as the bubonic plague pandemic in the 14th century or cholera in New York City, have killed millions of people.
Viruses and bacteria have the ability to evolve quickly, adapting to changing conditions. These adaptations are important for their survival. This rapid evolution has helped bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics in a relatively short time, and it is also likely why coronaviruses can become so dangerous and spread from person to person.
Although the human population has grown substantially over the last few centuries, infectious diseases still kill millions of people each year. Many of these deaths are preventable through improved public health measures, such as better sanitation, pasteurization, and vaccines.
However, even these improvements haven’t completely eliminated the threat of infectious diseases from large regions of the world, nor have they eradicated them altogether. For example, polio is still present in some parts of the world.
As we advance toward the future, we will continue to face infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics. Some are new to humanity; others are resurgent old enemies. These contagions are a danger because they are often unexpected, and because they can be hard to diagnose.
One of the greatest hurdles we face is educating the public about these diseases. We must teach everyone about basic infection prevention and control and how to treat the disease if it does occur.
Unfortunately, this information is sometimes misinterpreted or even incorrectly distributed in the media. This is because there are so many misconceptions about how microorganisms spread and how to avoid them.
This ignorance of infection prevention is a major problem that scientists and physicians have to work very hard to combat. It is difficult to convince the public that we are doing the right thing when we can’t explain our methods to them in a way they understand.
Humans will become a single species
There are many ways that humans may evolve in the future, and some scientists believe that our species will become a single species. This is a vision that isn’t completely outlandish, and it could have some real consequences for our planet and the way we live on it.
The human race has spread to every continent and altered the world in many ways. Some of these changes have been beneficial for us and our ecosystems, but others have caused a number of problems.
One of the most troubling is that human civilizations have inadvertently created new extinctions for some other species and habitats. These are called biotic exchanges, and they are irreversible.
As a result, the ecosystems around us have changed dramatically. We have introduced new plants, animals and bacteria that are not native to our planet.
But these invasive species can cause severe environmental damage to other organisms and our own environment. They can disrupt our climate, cause disease and destroy habitats.
Scientists have also pointed out that our planet is already changing. The planet is warming, the oceans are rising and the atmosphere is getting thinner. This is affecting all living organisms on Earth, and it has already begun to change the DNA of human cells.
It’s possible that if human civilization spreads to the other inhabited planets in our solar system, humans could evolve into a new species on each of them. This would help protect the future of our species on Earth.
A few years ago, a study was published in the journal Nature that predicted that people will start to look more and more alike over time. The theory was that this would happen because the human population is now mixing across cultures and ethnic groups.
Some of these changes will be genetic and others will come from lifestyle choices. For example, sitting at a desk for long periods of time causes your body to lean forward, and that can cause neck muscles to weaken. Texting will also mold your arms differently, as you hold a smartphone in front of your face.
Humans will be able to measure a lack of evolution
Molecular mechanisms reshuffle, duplicate, and alter genes in ways that result in genetic variation, the raw material for evolution.
The most common form of evolution is natural selection, where the frequency of alleles (heritable genetic variations) that confer greater fitness to a population tend to increase over time. This type of evolution is thought to be the main driver of modern human evolution, which has led to the development of a wide variety of traits and qualities that are uniquely human.
While evolutionary change is still a slow process, it does happen. The best example is the genetic engineering of bacteria to make synthetic antibiotics that kill disease-causing germs without harming their hosts. It has also produced vaccines for diseases like polio and smallpox, and drugs that reduce the risk of heart disease.
One of the many mysteries about the origin of life is how the cells in our bodies have become so sophisticated that they can modify themselves at will. This has been achieved through a complex cellular mechanism called transcription, which converts information in the DNA code into RNA molecules that are transmitted to a host cell. This can be done by a variety of processes, such as tagging specific regions on the DNA with special coding elements.
A similar tagging system is also used by plants to produce new proteins that are crucial for their growth and survival. Some of these tagging systems are capable of altering the shape of protein molecules. This is a major step in the evolution of life, and explains why many plant species appear to have been around for billions of years despite having evolved only very slowly.
In the future, humans may be able to measure a lack of evolutionary progress with some accuracy. This might be possible through a combination of molecular technology and genetic engineering.
As with any scientific breakthrough, the exact details are still being worked out. But the most likely explanation is that it will involve a combination of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and gene editing.