Humans: the top of the evolutionary tree?


Why do I take such a negative view of humankind? For me this is self-evident. What humans have done to each other (wars, slavery, control, etc) and to our home (climate change, animal extinctions, deforestation, etc) it is hard to believe that humans are truly the top of the evolutionary tree. Especially if one considers all the other species that have been here far longer than humans and have demonstrated how life-kind can live in harmony with plant-kind.

Humans are also incredible wasteful. The amount of garbage we produce. How wasteful our food supply chain is - just think about how much food is thrown out each day. Obesity is a human condition, no animal will naturally become obese. In fact, animals only become fat when humans intervene.

I don’t doubt that humankind has “intelligence”. However, for me, that doesn’t make us the top of the evolutionary tree. Unless the aim of evolution is to destroy the planet in the shortest possible time. Evolution is about extending the species into the future and continuing to be around in a few million years (see the birds, insects and sharks).

How worthless money really is - an astroid worth so much that each of us would get $1billion. Yet we continue this silly western world where money is all that matters.

It also points out how incapable we really are. We are unable to get into space and pick up this astroid. Which also demonstrate how we are definitely not the top of the evolutionary tree. Or lets put it this way, it’s still a long way to the top if you want to evolve - pun intended.

this also has to do with spirituality and to know that it’s ok not to be at the top. a lot of what spirituality has to offer is about enjoying life in the now and not in the future nor past. focusing on one thing and not getting distracted by the small things in life.

Based on this Aeon article - Thanks for all the fish.

–> but the same can be said for humans lack something which makes them (from the perspective of an alien race) incompatible with inter-galactic communication. for one thing we humans miss is true altruistic and social feelings.

Based on das raetsel unserer intelligenz

This docu presents the absolute arrogance of science. First off claiming that “intelligence” can be measured is ridiculous and dangerous. IQ tests are just that: tests. If you study for a test, you do better. And dangerous because it’s categorising people into boxes and that is never good.

Then it goes on to find the “source” of intelligence, i.e. which mechanisms and identities in the brain are responsible for intelligence and one step on, which genes are responsible for intelligence.

It then describes and an experiment where scientist implanted human Astrocyte into mice. These astrocyte then took over in the mice brains and the mice became more “intelligence”. Besides the arrogance, there is also a real question of morality here. But in the name of science, everything is possible.

Perhaps to verify these results, we should implant Astrocytes from dolphins in our own brains. Perhaps some good would come of that.

Either way, the irony is that our brains are shrinking. That can’t be. An explanation must be found. Our brains are more efficient. QED.

Ironically science first deny the connection between brain size and intelligence but then worry that our brains are getting smaller. Our ancestors had bigger brains. Full stop.

Then there was the reaction time test. Apparently our reaction times are 50milliseconds slower than our ancestors from 150 years. But that is just coincidence.

So are we the only life in the universe? There are many opinions to this question. However, what is the context? What is life? Is life considered to be a bacteria, virus, two cells and a membrane (pun intended) or “intelligent” life? Regardless, lets just take the question on face value: yes or no.

What if we take the answer to be yes. This would of course add to our arrogance of saying that we’re something special. However, if we are the only intelligent life in the universe (obviously we’re not the only life since there are plenty of animals that are also life). Also one can definitely argue that we’re not the only “intelligent” life since dolphins, birds and ants all exhibit “intelligence”. This might well be highly specialised but it is still intelligence. (Example here is that birds can fly, we can’t. That would make them more intelligent when it comes to flying.)

Either way, won’t it then be our purpose to maintain this life? To ensure that we can maintain and ensure our future? How come we don’t do that? We seem to be very good at destroying each other. So it becomes a double arrogance of a) we’re something special since we’re the only life form in the universe and b) we do nothing to protect this.

If the answer is no, where is everyone else? The next question is why do we assume that other life forms wish to have contact with us? Or why would other life forms what to explore the universe to find us? So here is another arrogance of humankind: we’re so special that obviously other life forms would want to make contact with us.

Well perhaps the truth is that we are the universal geek/nerd that the cool kids don’t want to be bothered with.

We certainly don’t have the technology to contact any advance life form. We can’t even communicate with the animals here on the earth. These animals have a lot of DNA in common with us and we can’t even communicate with them. Crazy to think that we would a) be able to recognise the communication attempts of other life forms and b) be able to communicate with them.

Just to put this into perspective. Imagine an advance life form that uses machine code (i.e. the stuff that computers use to run our programs, our infrastructure, our lives) to communicate. Machine code is highly optimised to run on a machine. We have no hope of understanding it without a lot of context, i.e. which CPU, which hardware, etc. As programmers, we code in high level languages that we understand. These are then translated to be executable by machines. These translations are done by programs that we have written but probably don’t understand anymore.

Another example. Take the digital representation of a word document (or a pdf or even text or GIF or any image file) and without any context of what it is, try to decode it. Think about what people in 100 years will do with our digital memory? Without the corresponding programs, these data formats are encrypted crap.

So we have come to situation where we can’t understand our own communication mediums. Now how are we expected to detect other, non-human, forms of communications? Aliens don’t use ASCII to communicate.

So what now?

If one believe the silicon valley types, then we’re on the way to replacing ourselves with automated machines. Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its promise of human paradise on earth - since the machines will do all the work for us. However it is a dangerous game building machines that are as “intelligent” as we. Since this can quickly lead to machines being more intelligent than humans.