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Evolution drove our development from ape ancestors to humans, but now that modern medicine and technology no preserves those that would have perished in the past, are we still evolving? This book explains why evolution is still changing us, why it always will, and that technology and modern living merely changes the direction of our development—and why this process is speeding up rather than slowing down.
In the future, we must adapt to urban living, to deal with new diseases, to longer lives and later reproduction. In a denser populated world, our brains must learn to cope with human interaction patterns vastly different from those in the small social groups we evolved in. If our future is one with abundant food, as our present is, we must change our physiology and psychology that evolved to store fat for potential future starvation. We must extract less energy from our diet to avoid obesity and the lifestyle diseases it causes. If our future is one where climate changes lead to a scarcity of food, our metabolism must change to prevent deficiency in essential nutrients. As we colonise the oceans and space, we must adapt to environments entirely unlike those of our ancestors, and the ancestral species that came before us.
Eventually, we will have the tools to direct our own evolution through gene-editing technology, and cultural norms will guide our development as intensely as natural selection has done so far. Humanity can speed up our evolution and do in centuries what would take natural evolution millions of years. However, biological evolution is not our only future. Artificial intelligence, build in our image, or human/machine hybrids could be our descendants, setting out to colonise the galaxy, and in one million years spread from one end of the Milky Way to the other.
Whether our evolution is biological or technological, whether we edit our genes or let nature guide our future, in one million years, we will be a different species. What will this descendant of Homo sapience, Homo futurae, look like?