Jul 06 2009
We are living in a unique time in the history of life on earth. After billions of years, we are the first generations of the first species to evolve to understand and consciously control our own evolution. Its kind of like a watch becoming its own watchmaker.
Stephen Hawking just spoke about this in Humans have entered a new stage in evolution:
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.
He is not the first to discover this 600 pound gorilla in the room. Jonas Salk coined the term Conscious Evolution to talk about this in the context of his notions of “metabiology.” Barbara Marx Hubbard has dedicated her life to exploring this as well.
There’s a certain denial going on with this topic. Just as a management meeting will pass a million dollar proposal quickly but haggle over a few dollars on office chairs, society seems to be haggling over the trivial stuff and ignoring the really important things: just how do we deal with conscious evolution to trigger a flourishing civilization, and not just an evolutionary meltdown?