Throughout history, humanity has invariably assumed itself to have a special place in the universe, either by divine provenience or by the apparent uniqueness and superiority of its sentient intelligence. For a while, humanity even believed itself to be at the centre of the universe, only to be cruelly told that Copernicus’ observations refuted this claim. Later, Darwin would add insult to injury by the very suggestion that humanity was only another species of ape subject to natural selection. Despite such profound challenges to the accepted order of things, humanity entered the 20th century confident, at least, in the assurance of the stability of an eternal universe, only to then see it evaporate in the explosive fallout from the ‘Big Bang’ .
So where is all this blasphemy leading?
The title ‘Human Evolution’ carries the implicit suggestion of evolution being driven by natural selection, although the underlying dominance of this process as always been challenged by human developments. At first, these developments were simply associated with the increased benefits of a hierarchically structured society, which offered greater survival protection and an improved quality of life for many. However, we also need to highlight the many ‘paradigm shifts’ associated with technology within this process, e.g. written language, mathematics, printing press, steam engine, industrial revolution, electricity and last, but not least, computing leading towards AI. As such, it might now be predicted that the future of human evolution will not be decided by natural selection, but rather man-made developments, although it is unclear that humanity, as we currently understand it, will be the ultimate beneficiary of future technology developments. When ‘The Paradigm Shifts towards AI’ was first published back in 2004, it was assumed that weak AI might not be realised for another 50-100 years, because human-coded logic did not really count as AI and there was not an obvious path to cognitive computing other than ever faster hardware. However, just 14 years later in 2017, cognitive computing and advances in computer processing, e.g. neuromorphics, would appear to suggest that weak AI is almost a reality, which might then profoundly change the future of human evolutionary development.
In this context, the picture above is an update of the 'man creates machine' idea towards the possibility of a 'machine creates machine' paradigm. It has also been argued, on the basis of the hybrid AI model, that while various forms of humanity may exist into the far-future, they may have to coexist with other forms of sentient intelligence that are not necessarily human in any respect. In the discussion entitled ‘The Future Model’ , six potential scenarios were outlined, e.g. same old-same old, collapse, repeated collapse, extinction, sustainable survival, humanity++ , and while all are still possible, it was suggested that humanity would not actively choose any of the first five scenarios, on the basis that ‘ survival was no longer enough’ and therefore humanity would, possibly by default, follow the path towards the humanity++ scenario. However, such predictions are far from certain as the future of humanity could still be in jeopardy from both natural and man-made disasters, although the following axiom is still held to be true as all evolution is simply a matter of time.
"Evolution is an on-going process.
As such, humanity is a transitional result."