"What is certainly true, as far as we can tell, is that a little change in the Earth's dynamic can have repercussions beyond our imagining"

Bill Bryson- A Short History of Nearly Everything

 

Evolution

 

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We cannot successfully manage the planet. The most delusional concept held by human beings is that we can.

It attests to the great ignorance of humans, that we even contemplate somehow we can do a better job than evolution.

I guess it could be well argued that what humans are doing is simply following the rule of evolution, which is that

  • all cards are on the table;
  • no consequences are  out of bounds; and
  • there is no purpose other than process.

The challenge for humans is to use their limited intellect to understand this concept and the consequences that flow.

Evolution has no predetermined obligations to deliver a beneficial outcome to our species.

Up to ten thousand years ago, humans had limited influence over the function of other organisms on this planet and we mealy operated within the constrained environment in which we lived.

Under the influence of evolution though we evolved an ability to manipulate our environment and under what seems a common universal phenomenon, this processes was exponential not linear.

However it is the characteristic of exponentialality that time frame are short.

We have only to look at the number of humans which inhabited the planet just ten thousand years ago to see the exponential growth of our numbers and impacts on the planets environment as a consequence.

A significant number of humans at present would if, only subliminally, understand that the rate of change is happening at an ever increasing speed.

Changes that once took millennia now occur within a century. Changes that once took a generation now occur within a decade. Changes that once took a decade now occur within a year and changes that occurred within a year now occur within a day.

Rate of change however is not uniform across every aspect of human environment and it does range in value from almost 0 zero in some arenas to almost 100 in others.

As an example of an area of minuscule change consider brick laying. Not only has this activity hardly changed during my lifetime of almost 70 years but it has changed little from my grandfather's day.

The process is still done by human hand and largely with string line, a piece of flat material, rectangular piece of clay and a bed of gluey material. While progress has occurred in the piece of flat material, manufacture of the bricks and in the composition of the glue not so in the process of laying.

At the 100 end of the spectrum sits computers science.

In the time it takes from when the sun rises today to when it sets, there will be a change in our knowledge, capability and performance outcome in computing science.

Somewhere on the planet today some programmer will add new code, some technician will modify structural component and some systems analysis will expand the capability of the interrelationship between these components.

Change in every sphere of our life sits somewhere in between these two yardsticks.

One of the most curious and interesting aspect to consider about human is the fact that the overwhelming number, never contemplate upon the consequence of this phenomenon.

We simply are very poor as a species in visualising future consequences from current action.

In terms of evolution and the development of our DNA this is entirely consistent with a creature who had no need for this ability because the environmental changes in which our DNA evolved was not one in which a there was high probability of the consequences of sudden change and the agents that could bring about sudden change, such as the impacts of large meteorite, had no solution therefore no necessary requirement for the development of a DNA strategy to deal with that phenomena.

Our species is probably unique and I used that word in its real derivation, that we are most likely the first species of this planet to be able to organise our own extinction.

It certainly is normal for species to be the agents for extinction of other species and I would suspect it would have happened countless times in the last 4 billion years of understood history of the planet.

I doubt though if any other species has organised its own extinction as successfully as human are currently in the process of doing.

There will be many of you who will read this statement and consider it  to be an overly pessimistic prognosis and perhaps hold a belief that even though we may go through a torrid point of correction (like many systems do) within the foreseeable future and certainly by the year 2114 that we will self correct the circumstances that we have put in place, which if left unchecked, will result in the demise of the human species.

I don't think I'm a fatalist or a pessimists when I make such dire  predictions it's just that I see  no characteristic within the DNA of our species that provide for the opportunity or potential necessary to achieve this correction outcome.

My reason for this comes from my understanding of computer programming which in my opinion there is no greater micro example of the process of evolution.

It start with a basic set of codes and as you progress it expands not only in the code themselves but new languages designed to perform specific tasks more efficiently.

You only have to look at the last hundred years of computer science to see what I mean. I haven't actually counted up all the computer languages that are available in 2014 by know there are considerably more than those were available in 1950 and I would confidently predict that there will be significantly more by the year 2050.

The most important thing a computer languages teachers us about DNA is the fundamental premise, which provides, that an underlying construct of a computer language/DNA dictate capability of future potentialities and unless the language/DNA when constructed, contained the capability to rapidly morph into a totally different way of functioning then there is no capability, down the road, to produce that outcome.

It might be tempting to cite recombinant DNA as the savour but it seems to me that no DNA available to us from the tens of million of the other species on this planet is likely to have the required codes either and if there is then I doubt we have the time left or the social constructs to allow it to be found and meshed in the time available.

If in this I am mistaken then there is indeed room for optimism to be had but if in this I am correct then it is only a matter of when not if, we are no more.

 

 

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