I recently saw a speculative design fiction that looked at 150 year old humans by Jaemin Paik, called ‘When We All Live to 150’ , 2012.
It brought on the question of how much modern medicine has changed us as humans, modified our biology, and our society.
The introduction of modern medicine has quite practically extinguished evolution from human race. We have treated the majority of diseases that can promote evolution. The life expectancy of humans has rose extremely significantly from 30 years to 90 years in a span of 200 years.
This use of artificial methods has irrevocable affected us. Not just medicine, but in other ways such artificiality has entered our lives. The artificial technology, food and modern infrastructure has also create a perfectly stable environment that prevents human evolution. We have no predators, lesser diseases, and lesser challenges.
By living in such artificiality, we have lost the equilibrium with nature. As every creature and life form in nature evolves, and grows together with it’s natural challenges, we have managed to not just stop evolution but maybe also reverse it.
Without these artificial interventions and affordances, humans might be completely different and evolved in an entirely different manner in these modern centuries.
In the book, afterman; a zoology of the future, Dixon discusses how an animal’s evolution is affected by the environment it is surrounded in. The evolution occurs when the environment changes , creating the need for change in the creature.
Dixon mentions sometimes species may appear not to change for vast periods, this does not mean they do not evolve , but rather their environment has stability that encourages the constancy.
However natural environments are rarely perfectly stable and without change. They are in a constant state of flux, a fluctuating equilibrium and a self regulating cycle. This naturally encourages evolution.
However, the artificial environment of humans is designed for constancy, for stability and constancy . By creating this artificial environment around us , we have become a extension of it. We ourselves have become artificial, and engineered, as much a product of our innovation as our world.
The food we eat, the medicines we take , the lifestyles we practice, the environment we live in, as irrevocable modified our biology and physic.
We are bionic, and built as much as our infrastructure. However it is less apparent because of our organic make-up. Away from the forces of change in nature, uninfluenced from the shifting equlibrium of nature, this is where our true alienation lies.
By living in artificiality, it has become our reality. And this is the only reality we can exist in now.
How would the natural human have looked without his artificial affordances that shaped him as he is today? Will there be a day where nature has left him behind with its entire evolutionary cycle? Guess we will never know.