C Van Keister-Inman, T Dreksler, W Dreksler
C Van Keister-Inman, T Dreksler, W Dreksler. The Face Of Super-Humanity. The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology. 2008 Volume 2 Number 2.
My associates and I have just completed a computer program that implemented statistical models based upon comparative humanoid anatomy to predict what we humans will look like when we reach the next link in our evolutionary heritage. This article explains how we accomplished this while also attempting to uncover the causes in our next evolutionary plateau towards super-humanity. These trends were based upon previous progressions and inclinations in construction to statistically predict future morphological structures. This ambitious program used progressive trends to reveal a gradual development in human evolutionary transitions that will be further enhanced and accelerated by the impact of the new genetics and computer technology. Whether these transitions require a quarter of a million years to develop through gradual changes in Natural Selection or a or a few hundred with the impact of computer technology and new genetics, makes little difference as we will continued to evolve.
I celebrate those who know they are born of fire, and those who would rather be a handful of ashes than a pile of dust.--Author
We are standing at the crossroad of our seven million year evolutionary heritage. Approaching a threshold of exponential technological progress and an array of pioneering genetic capabilities, we are confronted with tremendous challenges and choices that will dramatically shape our future direction. These groundbreaking discoveries will not only change the fabric of our world but will change us as well to more unequaled and unparalleled heights in our evolutionary makeup. Unlocking the secrets of DNA has unleashed powers greater than splitting the atom. Genetic research can alter the basic stamp and delivery of our evolutionary character by providing the option of having direct control over our own evolutionary makeup. We want to be in control of our lives; genetic capability will expand that idea to exalted heights.
What will we humans look like in the future? We know that we are continuing to evolve as nothing remains evolutionary distinct for long, not even man. We are transitional figures in the long chain of our evolutionary heritage. We know that someday in the future humans will advance into some higher species and that may supplant us in the process. But what will be this face of super-humanity? What will they look like?
With the advancement of anthropology we know that we humans have had a long, prodigious past and the question of the emergence of super-humanity is a relatively fresh idea, which was previously reserved for idle speculation alone. That man can ponder his own future evolutionary path is profound and speaks well for us as a race of people. An even profounder idea is for us becoming the controlling agent in our genetic machinery that will radically alter our evolutionary character. We have desired for ages to find superhuman beings in outer space, but in the near future we may find them, but they will be us!
Some futurists have envisioned that humans will merge somehow with computers, which will lead to evolutionary progress in the direction of cybernetics and robotics. Is it the destiny of humans to be half human and half cybernetic beings? Or will we retain our fundamental biological character? These types of questions recently have made their ascent into critical understanding, into contemporary anthropology, and into just plain mind boggle. What we will look like in our evolutionary sequence has remained mysterious as it is complex, until now as my colleagues and I have constructed a computer program that will advance our understanding of our superhuman ascension.
The Computer model
Figure 1 is a simple comparison between a Neanderthal skull and a
Some of my colleagues have suggested that predicting future human evolutionary scenarios is like predicting the weather. I suggest that it is more like predicting future automobile styles as the basic architecture of cars varies little from model to model. The basic feature of automobiles consists of four wheels, the framework, chassis, and these basically remain the same as innovations are just added on to the existing framework, which becomes more streamlined in the progression. Humans will remain bipedal and encephalic as evolutionary transitions will not be major overhauls, just subtle transitions to the essential architecture. And even the weather can be predicted with increased accuracy and detail with the advance of greater understanding and the application of refined computer models and applications. Even modern weather predictions are getting more and more sophisticated as well as accurate. The human project is no different. This face of super-humanity will be our newer human model outdating all others, and one that may make us obsolete in that evolutionary boundary.
Figure 2 and 3 are the finished products after the statistical models were entered into a forensics program. This superhuman visage is a generic face that lacks personal expression and character, which can only delivered through individual expression. What that individual may be is debatable. Will he be a redeemer or a saint, or will he emerge from his race to be the conqueror or warlord of all humans? The answer remains hypothetical, but judging from our previous evolutionary history, newer species are seldom sympathetic to the lower ones. I would wager that he will have little patience with our all too humanness.
All living things are in a state of transition. They either evolve and change or become extinct. Nothing is at a standstill or remains evolutionary distinct for long periods. Man, too, is a transitional figure having a relatively short history when compared to the rest of his evolutionary hominid family. Our humanoid family photo album is very thick, but we humans occupy only just a few back pages. We made our entry and dominance into the world during the last Ice Age. We will make another entry with the dawn of the computer age and our knowledge of the complete human DNA blueprint, which will allow us to be the manager of our own genetic makeup. A new dawn is rising for
You are probably saying right now that the superhuman figure looks no different than modern man. You are quite correct as super-humanity in appearance will closely resemble
A closer look at this face of super-humanity will show marked differentiations and subtle changes when compared to skulls of
The only subtle post human feature was the tapered wing pattern manifesting along the Superior Temporal Line. This was more evident in the skull projection than the face projection. This curious feature would arise because of the increase in the temporal lobe capacity. This would be used to reinforce the bone structure in this area. This greater temporal lobe capacity in the skull base did not look pretentious or hideous but a natural. It would give super-humans a more predominant, assuming appearance as if his command was designed more through intelligence applications than animal activities. Overall, it appeared more dominantly human. I gazed at my creation like a father looking at newborn his son. I felt a rapport for the future and for all the future of humanity. I felt my evolutionary heritage in more profound ways than I ever experienced in museums.
Another feature immediately noticeable when looking at this figure is that he has no hair. This was purposeful because the computer program, similar to those used in forensic science, intentionally leaves off the hair. There is little evidence to support that future humans will be chrome domes. We really do not know enough about hair to surmise how much we will have in the future, as we argue today how much hair pre-humans had. At one time pre-human forms were totally covered with hair. We still are in a sense; it have just thinned out so much that it appears invisible. Our ancestors were totally hirsute, but with the introduction of wearing skins and togas we did not have to rely upon hair giving us warmth. But there was another reason bodily hair disappeared: sexual appeal. The dominant male had to be the strongest, the biggest, the most resourceful, the most superior, and the less hairy, which had the strongest sex appeal. In this regard we are no different from other animals, peacocks displaying their feathers or large apes pounding on their chests, or young teenagers displaying their stylish accouterments at their local hangouts.
The purpose of hair on the body was not designed for cosmetics alone and was designed for some biological purpose. It was only within the last 100,000 years or so that we have equated it with sexual attraction. The same goes for skin color and facial qualities. But statistical trends show that we humans are becoming less hairy, but whether or not we will all become chrome domes in the future is debatable. Perhaps even the quality of hair will change from that which we know. It may be more textural than built upon individual fibers.
Future Evolutionary Scenarios
Arthur C. Clarke was the first to envision a new dawn for humanity in his book,
Trans-humanists designate this catalytic event in punctual evolutionary change as “singularity” and deem that it will arise when artificial intelligence awakens. But explaining how computers becoming intelligent can directly affect the human genome, trans-humanists are reticent. It could be argued that the rise of computer intelligence will negate human potential as humans will become more and more dependent upon computers and may even eventually become their servants. Catalytic changes and augmentation in evolution are caused by catastrophes, as we are not certain what process prompts quantum leaps within the genome. Yet any punctual or gradual change in evolution is within the genetic fabric itself, as we are again talking about biology and not mechanics. I applaud the trans-humanists in their effort to raise the spirit of man to newer levels, but let us keep man human instead of being reduced to a computer chip. Man will use computers; he will not become one.
But human curiosity leads us to ask the question of questions about our transition into a higher species. What is the direction of our evolutionary heritage? But those who do speculate about it reside in the outskirts and fringes of professional anthropology: the science fiction writers, the quasi New Age nuts of all kinds, the neo-Nazis masquerading behind different uniforms, and the pseudo-scientists who disguise themselves from real science with mock gestures of all types. All of this adds very little to the collective body of anthropology because there is little or no rational basis to support any of it. And because of this the super-human project sits right beside topics like crop circles and gender bending.
By arming ourselves with the great strides in technology we will make the transition. Trans-humanists call this event, “singularity” and invariably define it through objective terms by merely looking at the nanotechnology and the computers themselves as the mitigating vehicles for making this transition. But singularity can only arise at the hands of singular individuals, the man himself, the singular individual who rises up against the backdrop of mediocrity. He is not determined by his instruments, his projects, and his environmental factors, but determines these and uses them to his advantage. Singularity does not just happen by changing conditions or adding ingredients to the recipe. Singularity happens only through singular individuals who impact the event itself. The catalyst for future evolutionary progress is self directed autonomy and is intelligence itself and not the other way around.
Some have envisioned super-humans to be some form of assembly and fusion between carbon and silicon, between organic intelligence and cybernetic, in some perfect balance between man and machines, specifically computers. Most trans-human thinkers invariably equate intelligence and computers as the next link in human evolution, as man will emerge half human and half computer with the heart of a computer chip. I do not endorse this union that would turn humans into some type
It is totally futile to believe that we are safe from masterminded technology and can prevent this onslaught in an effort to secure our way of life into the next century. But it is too late as the intellectual dynamics are already in place as we continue to co-evolve with all our instrumentalities. There are no sanctuaries for the future in our precarious existence here on Earth. There are no guarantees or certainties in the universe, but that is what makes it so challenging, and so full of potentials, yet frightening for others. The potential is not only open, but is hyperbolic in that it completely breaks through applications that only insured mediocrity. Our first steps towards super-humanity will be just as difficult and revitalizing as our first humanoid steps.
Man will not be replaced or succeeded by cybernetic organisms, machines, or by computers, in some horrific sense depicted by the theme of
Man will augment his genetic capability with the aid of computers and technological advances, but in the process will transcend all machines and computers while making them obsolete. The goal is not to become a computer but to transcend it to a greater level of vitality. Super-humans will make a qualitative jump, not just a quantitative one, into a higher realm of existence. They will also surpass themselves in an original eminence, which will alter every foundation of their existence that will hurl them towards a towering prospect of vision and growth. Super-humans will no longer be a man, nor a computer, but something fundamentally higher by surpassing them both.
Super-humans will have an entire army of cybernetic organism and robots to secure his dominance. This tripartite realm of humanity will fulfill the plan outlined by Plato's
Previously, we deemed that only advanced computer technology could lead to the acceleration of human transitions in the direction of either cybernetic or robotic augmentation. This was one dimensional in that it equated superiority with only intelligence. Super-humanity is not fabricated out of tinker toys and erector sets. Augmentations are mere quantitative changes; real qualitative changes can only occur at the level of DNA itself. A superior mind also requires a superior body to house it. The superhuman is not half machine or robot, but the next evolutionary link in our evolutionary legacy. This is the fundamental error committed by today's trans-humanists who probably first envisioned the idea of super-humanity in
Perhaps one day in the distant future, if our world holds together, humans may evolve to higher levels that may be quite distinct from present day humans. But our next link in that chain will be a subtle shift as super-humans will retain much of our human characteristics. He will be a newer species, highly advanced, and more superior, yet not much different from the prior model as human transitions are slow and gradual. Punctual developments in human morphology occurred when the human population was very small as genetic variation could become widespread within the gene pool within a generation or two. But today human population is in the billions and subtle variations in the genetic pool are less predominant as major changes would create just a ripple in that pond and would have little impact. Because of this some experts have argued that evolution is at a standstill as we will remain genetically distinct. Distinct and extinct are terms closely related for obvious reasons.
Most of the leading anthropologist today do not endorse superhuman scenarios and try to refute it one way or the other. It amazes me how these leading voices deny superhuman ascent for numerous reasons especially because past evolutionary heritage has been an open book of variation and possibilities. Humans have occupied only 1/100 of the hominoid history and to believe that our evolution is a closed book suggests only anthropocentric myopia and folly
Most of anthropologists today reflect Ernst Mayr's belief that humans are at a standstill and are evolutionary distinct. Mayr in his book, “
Mayr endorses this pessimistic approach of human evolution because he probably did his dissertation like most zoologists and anthropologists in the jungle, or perhaps he spent too many hours in his museum just examining his bone collection tucked away in all the secure drawers, instead of looking beyond his own individual enterprise. Specialists can not see the proverbial tree because of the forest. Anthropology broadens itself to encompass the scope of all the sciences as well as philosophy. Anthropology was once reduced to digging up human bones and artifacts, exploring cultural differences, mapping and charting blood types and populations, or simply journeying off into some remote, primitive village. But now armed with the power and the scope of new genetics and nanotechnology, anthropology can make viable predictions towards the future in an effort to explore future trends in human evolution. What better discipline is more suited for this demand? Knowing our origins and how we evolved to our current level provides the intellectual foundation into making viable speculations into future evolutionary leaps in human growth. Previously, little space was devoted to evolutionary trends in human evolution leading to superhuman levels for numerous reasons. The majority of modern anthropologists are modest men who generally avoid controversial subjects while electing to attend committee meetings or venturing on expeditions instead. They are more interested in focusing upon the past delivered in the fossil record in order to piece together man's evolutionary history. But this evolutionary history is incomplete without a viable projection into possible future realms of human advancement.
This anthropological conservatism goes all the way back to Darwin who elected not to publish certain tenets of his beliefs because these would embarrass his wife. Anthropology with its nose in the past deemed future trends in human evolution as topics of idle speculation and those not worthy of professional attention. Even though natural questions such as the direction of evolutionary progress and possible post human development, these kinds of questions were dismissed for various reasons. This is a natural response for professors and professional anthropologists alike who prefer to keep their feet on the ground and stick with the factual and the concrete. Scientific method does not deal with speculation,
We know that progressive transitions in humanoid evolution have occurred in punctual transitions manifesting from catastrophes in the environment that provide a catalyst for accelerated growth. The next level, the nexus will be through computer technology which will serve as the catalyst for accelerated human growth.
Should we become the controlling agents in managing the machinery of our genetic signatures that will lead to advanced human forms, or should we surrender and leave our genetic framework to nature alone? But nature's methods are capricious, and mostly designed for promoting mediocrity, and operate at the level of randomness and probability, and no matter how successful these methods were in the past they secure no guarantee for our continued success. The choice is whether we should consign our genetic heritage to intelligence or leave it to randomness and chance? This is the fundamental question that the emergence of new genetics has brought to the forefront in critical philosophical and scientific circles today. It raises new hopes while at the same time offers new fears. It is a question that can not be delivered in the normal framework, and perhaps is not even a question at all. But its possibility challenges us to awaken from our slumbers and to critically examine who we are, where we are heading, and what we may become in that evolutionary heritage.
We have come a long way in our evolutionary journey. From our earliest footprints fossilized along a Pliocene African riverbed three million years ago, to our first footprints on the moon, our long history is praiseworthy as we should be proud of our accomplishments. We have walked a long way, but the road still leads on up ahead to unimaginable places. We have covered much territory, but our journey has only just begun. Our footsteps will lead us, if we have the courage and capacity to face the challenge, to greater horizons of Promethean heights.
But a greater knowledge of the human genome coupled with a greater understanding of the mechanics of evolution itself will arm us with a superior degree of controlling our own future to unheralded heights, simply by being the master of our own genetic makeup. Managing our genetic fabric will maximize our potential for securing our continued existence in a precarious world, and will also provide a greater instrument in accelerating our continual evolutionary growth necessary to adapt to changing environmental circumstances. If you believe that this can not happen, you should guess again because we have already introduced foreign genes into embryos of cows, pigs, and mice for years. With the introduction of cloning and now to germ-line genetics, it is just a simple step to the next level.
Screening sex cells and using only those that produce more wholesome traits that upgrade life's potentials will be triggered to insure genome strengthening and fortification. This is called Designer DNA and this will be the gradual basis for advanced enhancements. Punctual designs in our evolutionary character call for a catalyst, necessary to accelerate evolutionary trends. This is an area of biological genetics that remains ambiguous at best in ascertaining the cause of these accelerated transitional changes. Biologists have a good grip on the gradual processes of evolution that operate at the level of Natural Selection, but these punctual changes that led to rapid changes in species are a bit of a mystery.
The majority of people believe that this new genetic capability will lead to a nightmare existence where we may surrender our human dignity, and adamantly support governmental restraints imposed upon every form of genetic research. Others herald the idea that human evolution will lead us to unprecedented levels of post-humanism. I believe that it is preferable to manage and control our genetic foundation with intelligence rather than leave it to the random level of nature alone. Having intelligent control of our genetic basis may be paramount in future scenarios to guarantee our continued success in this precarious world. Managing and orchestrating our own genetic makeup offers not only greater success for future challenges, but greater avenues and roads not taken that will lead to post-human realizations. The major fears of genetics our not just addressed to genetics alone, but the fear of the unknown. We want things to remain the same; but they can not as our world is constantly changing. Not only is the world changing, but we are as well.
Yet these ideas of augmenting human potentials to post human heights are, in fact, becoming a reality today with groundbreaking research into the human genetic structure. This knowledge has been instrumental in the medical and forensics fields and has opened newer vistas and experimental designs. These methods demand an ever increasing knowledge that will expand empowering mankind towards managing and augmenting his genetic makeup. This research has provided the instruments and the blueprint and will become the vehicle for promoting that accelerated evolution.
We have the capability to become stronger, healthier, more versatile, and more intelligent human beings. This future is now. This is the message and plan for a newer, modified post-human plan assisted by increases in nanotechnology and artificial intelligence via computers that will support the new genetics. It is our hope and vision not only for a better world of tomorrow, but a better man as well.
Will this deliver mankind to a new dawn of evolution, to the doors of super-humanity where we will eventually realize some newer utopian vision? Or will this power lead to our ultimate demise and destruction? Will exploring the fabric of our own DNA open up Pandora's Box that led to unexpected consequences? Can man really wield the instruments of his own evolution and preprogram his genetic character, or is this merely delightful science fiction? How is this journey possible? What are the mechanisms involved? And once we do reach the next plateau or pinnacle in evolution what will we look like?
There are no simple guidebooks, nothing engraved in marble and stone to deliver us, and no political doctrine that can shield us in the changing arena of scientific based computer technology that has given rise to new genetic capabilities. Modern technology has opened newer windows in human progression and has embarked into areas that were unimaginable only a generation ago. We must not only be intelligent enough to deal with these newer issues, but we must be strong enough to have the courage to face them as well. Whether we like it or not these newer genetic capabilities are being introduced into our world as the machinery is already in place that will transform not only the Earth, but us as well.
One thing did change in anthropology however, in that anthropology became pressured to play a more active and important role in the critical understanding in future trends in human evolution. Now every book concerning the topic of evolution has a final chapter reserved for human prospects for superhuman advancement. Most of them are not encouraging. New platforms and chapters in all areas of human research changed with all the pioneering efforts needed to understand in the human genome with all its dynamic complexity. Genetic mapping opened up newer books for creative design in humans. This knowledge was not privy to previous thinkers and tinkerers. And with the addition of radical new ideas such as positive eugenics, epi-eugenics, artificial intelligence, cybernetics, bionics, coupled with the exponential usage of computers, the human perspective has altered. We know that these new playthings and instrumentalities will dramatically affect our evolution in ways that maybe we can not foresee, and ways that may be, for us quite unimaginable and Earth shattering. This prompted further investigations and consideration because the next link may happen sooner than we imagined. We always thought that major changes in a species required long periods of gradual transitions to manifest themselves, or were made apparent by sudden transitions impacted by major catastrophes. Either way we always imagined a future link in human progression to occur millions of years into the future. But the new genetics has changed all of that; the future is now.
Evolution need not be a one way street of this older variety as even its contextual basis has evolved. The flux and flow of evolution like the currents of a river can be altered, can be changed providing more powerful, creative designs free from dominant restraints of mere Natural Selection that operates through mere randomness and probability in a slow delivery of adaptation. The machinery for evolution need not be as deterministic as we previously deemed and can be given a more creative design. In other words, we can take the helm from Darwin's hands. We can enhance our own genetic designs.
The laws that govern evolution are not the same as the laws of physics. They can be broken, edited, and programmed. We will be able to custom design the fabric of DNA by a more powerful, more effective, and more creative form of engineering, which I call Autonomous Selection. The mechanism of evolution can be altered by human design and given a teleological character something unimaginable to the past generations of biologists. This will also give man a greater potential for survival in a hostile world and will provide the groundwork for accelerated evolution. This method will be the guiding instrument in the creation of a New Man of superior qualities.
Man stands at the crossroads as both roads lead to a fundamentally different type of evolutionary character. One is punctual, the direct result of man augmenting genetic intervention by becoming the agent in managing the direction of evolution and possibly regulating it to a newer vitality. This will be powered with his knowledge of new genetics and the augmentations of nanotechnology. We will become the catalyst in our genetic architecture, which will become more ambitious and enhanced in order to assure continued the adaptive principles that previously were laid down for mere survival tendencies. This will stimulate further advances that will lead to the post human enterprises, the superhuman species.
Also we cannot trust that normal evolutionary patterns no matter how successful they may have been in the past, and no matter how meticulous and enduring they might have been. There is no guarantee that this operation will continue successfully into the future. Nature does not know what is advantageous in genetic evolution as it merely operates at the functional, chemical level, which is a scramble of randomness and probabilities. Nature, left by its own mechanism, is too erratic, too unpredictable, too precarious, too full of compromises and unchecked failures, and simply cares not a hoot for the safety and security of mankind.
Man is a transitional animal, transitional in that he is not the last link in human evolution, nor is his evolutionary morphology complete or distinct. He is also an animal, but one unlike all others in that he can change the circumstances of his life and not be dominated by them. His life is a project. This is why the branch that led directly to
This is the extent of our ambitious project as I feel that we have delivered the child of the future into our world for the first time. For the first time mathematical and computer models have presented a possible representation of super-humanity instead of pure imagination. We hope that this mathematical enterprise will carry over to more ambitious programs utilizing supercomputers. We have laid the first steps in this ultimate challenge. What super-humans will do in this world is another story, but I feel that he will render everything in our world, our philosophy, science, religion, and our way of life, and even us obsolete. But he, too, will only be a transition, a stage, to higher levels. And he too will, perhaps be only superhuman, all too superhuman! Was this a man dreaming about being superhuman, or was this a superhuman dreaming that he was an ape?
Clinton Van Keister-Inman firstname.lastname@example.org Science Department Hillsborough Schools Tampa Bay, Florida, USA.