Sunday, October 25, 2009

Humans Of The Future

My guess is that the most obvious genetically rooted physical difference between humans today and humans 400 years hence will be their relative racial homogeneity. 12 or so generations in the modern world gives plenty of time for human beings to mix themselves up pretty well. Of course, there's no telling what effect futuristic genetic technologies could have. Maybe weird fads will catch on and people will want their kids to have prehensile tails or something. Assuming that the technology works, that doesn't strike me as a bad thing. I could use a prehensile tail, though I might need to buy new pants.

The Peter McAllister character cited in the article seems more like some dude who got a contract to write a provocative book (about how humans today are way less physically capable than those of millennia past) than any kind of expert. Google doesn't give me any sign that he has a Ph.D or an academic post or anything. Considering the impact of unsteady nutrition, parasites, and other problems of the premodern world, I'd be surprised if they were able to keep up with us.


corvus said...

I suppose it's possible that we will see greater racial homogeneity in the future. On the other hand (just to be contrarian [sorry]) perhaps this will one of those cross-currents type of social changes. For example, right now we seem to be growing both more liberal and more conservative as a country, because the two axis of political thought are both getting beefed up. People are fleeing to extremes.

Likewise, as social mores are opened up, sexual attraction, and thus reproductive partnership, will become more and more based on sexual fetish. People won't marry for money or social mores, but appearance. While this will probably mean a lot of people of different strokes hooking up, scrawny guys who like big girls, tall guys who like short girls, Indian guys who like cornflake girls (ahem), there will probably be an equal number of people who like people just like themselves. Wane pale brunettes into wane pale brunettes (think goths), big dudes into big girls, that kind of thing. And that will cause a cross current in selection. Maybe, then we all end up like dogs. A whole bunch of mutts and a bunch of weird looking animals off to the sides.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Well, the thing is that people start out totally unmixed. Milennia of geographic separation have kept Chinese and blacks, Indians and Irish apart, and over that time they've gotten really different physical characteristics. You're not going to intensify their differences more without another thousand years of keeping them all on separate villages.

But you put them together, and the vast majority of mating moves available push them towards mixing of some kind or other. Even if 9 generations mate with people like them and 3 generations mate with different looking people, you end up with a much more mixed-looking pool than you did at first.

Glenn Fayard said...

*brains in robots*

clap, clap, clap clap clap

*brains in robots*

clap, clap, clap clap clap