Nice post, Henry.
For many years now, the primary stumbling block to evolution of big brains
has been pelvic size. We have defeated that with c-sections. Once in a
dozen years or so, a bunch of kids are born wired in ways that we shall
likely never understand, but they do awsome feats of mental gymnastics, far
beyond anything I can personally imagine. It seems to me that the seeds are
there for the evolution of some truely awsome individuals. But, would you
want to live with them? Does intellectual prowess enhancment (IPE) induce
'improved' germ cell lines? (Think: Nobel Sperm Bank). Maybe not directly,
but the 'nature' vs. 'nurture' thing isn't settled yet. Better parenting
does make its contribution, and perhaps IPE positively impacts parenting
skills. Who knows?
What ever happened to chivalry? Males walking on the street side of
females, holding doors, and so forth. Gone, but not completely, even though
the primary reasons for those behaviors have been reduced or eliminated by
other behavioral changes in society.
Can we push humans to evolve? Depends, IMHO, on how you look at things.
Gene manipulation would certainly make a contribution, but not in the
Darwinian sense. C-Sections or much wider pelvis development (gene
manipulation?) would certainly allow for the delivery of snappers with much
larger brains (improved germ lines?). Social behaviors of the rest of
society will make it difficult to parent such kids.
An open question? Do we really need to push humans to evolve, or do we just
render what we already have more suitable to the tasks emerging before us? I
tap: "Let's augment what we have." If germlines improve (whatever that
means) anyway, so be it. Read Huxley lately?
From: Henry van Eyken <email@example.com>
> Allow me struggle through this a little with Eric's questions before me
> having to move on to other things.
> About human systems "naturally" evolving and "pushed to evolve," some
> Evolutionary psychology holds that underneath new culture lies old
> psychology. Humankind has adapted to changes in culture (see first word of
> this sentence) and artifacts. I don't think there is much quarrel about
> Next part, "pushed to evolve" or stimulating evolution. When we send out
> children off to school, aren't we stimulating them to evolve? Isn't it the
> school experience in addition to natural maturation giving them a
> outlook on life, behave differently, more quickly and more self-assuredly
> adapting themselves to societal life, and in some way gaining some control
> over their relationship between self and family and friends and larger
> social circles? Aren't school and work, visits to new places, and meeting
> new people experiences that add value to the human system in the sense
> it can perform better? ren't education and experience giving us better
> in hand and in head? In a way, aren't human systems to a large extend tool
> systems as well? (Maybe we are contemplating a bit too sharp a dichotomy
> between human system and tool system. When we "get hold of ourself," we
> a human system acting on the very self as a tool system. Company's
> are largely paid for because of their "tool status." When I took my dose
> Economics 101, I resented labor being treated as part of a
> Creating a "working dichotomy" between human system and tool system seems
> me very useful when looking at human beings enhancing their talents with
> computers. At this point, I feel compelled to first think of the human
> psyche as part emotional, part rational. I further understand that
> signals to the brain may follow two rather distinct kinds of pathways: one
> via our emotional center, another bypassing it. Cognition has an emotional
> component. Fine-grained cognition will have grains in them with different
> blends of the rational and the emotional. That's the nature of the beast.
> Hence, when we seek to augment with computers, this realization calls for
> extra care because the human organism may revolt at facing the truth.
> logic can be devastating.
> There is little doubt in my mind that we can augment the rational aspect
> humans so as to stimulate it to perform at higher levels of the cognitive
> domain. Or maybe I should say that it will "waste" less time on the lower
> levels (doing longhand division, for example) and thereby become more
> productive. Doug's Air Force" proposal of 1962 has computers stimulating
> mind in faster, more productive action by replacing a slow proces of
> internally creating a picture by having computers concretize it for them -
> showing them the effects on a display terminal. The evolution is not so
> in the human system as it is in how the human system performs. That is an
> evolution that, methinks, can be stimulated by purposeful design. (If you
> have the patience and time, may I refer you to
> http://www.fleabyte.org/testbed/augment.html where, without knowing even
> name Engelbart, I essayed on just a little part of all the things Doug has
> been saying. And this sort of thinking is why I feel at ease with him.)
> One more word here. Doug's purposeful design is not one that takes big
> by making big leaps. No Big-Brother Masterplan putting everyone at risk.
> notion is to tread carefully, but decisively with as continuous a feedback
> as possible so as to avoid breaking the dishes.
> Back to Eric's questions:
> 1. Q. Will the human system go on as before unchanged?
> A. Quick answer: that old psychology remains unchanged, but as a working
> agent adapts to forever changing LAM/H for survival. (LAM/H is Doug's
> synopsis for language, artifacts, methods in the human system.)
> 2. Q. Will the human system evolve naturally in the new environment?
> A. That old psychology will only over those long periods that are part and
> parcel of natural evolution. Don't expect any change here over the next
> century or so. But the way the psychology lets us behave will, and fast
> (think of "crazes," for example, or oppressive regimes for another; the
> effect of masses' conduct on individual behavior and convictions).
> Q. Eric continues the question with "If so, the evolution that will take
> place is worth mentioning in a companion piece, but it is not an integral
> part of the system that is being proposed."
> A. Going back to my point that the human system is partly also within his
> tool system, that makes it an integral part.
> 3. Q. Is the proposal seriously attempting to change human systems
> simultaneously with a change in technology?
> A. I believe the question is less of "attempting to" than "expecting of."
> Then the answer would be "yes."
> Sorry, Eric, my philosophy is darn uncultured, but, I like to believe,
> a cut above clax bovis.
> Eric Armstrong wrote:
> > It has the same difficulty as the colloquium,
> > in my view -- it covers way too much ground to
> > be a practical recommendation for anything.
> > When it begins talking about the "human system",
> > in particular, it reflects the colloquium. Like,
> > the colloquium, the specific impact on the
> > "human system" is never adduced. Three possibilites
> > spring to mind:
> > * Will the human system go on as before
> > unchanged? If so, it scarcely needs
> > mentioning.
> > * Will the human system evolve naturally
> > in the new environment? If so, the
> > evolution that will take place is worth
> > mentioning in a companion piece, but it
> > is not an integral part of the system
> > that is being proposed. The only significant
> > relationship to the human system (as far
> > as it leads to acceptance) is what *benefit*
> > will the system have on the human system.
> > * Is the proposal seriously attempting to
> > change human systems simultaneously with
> > a change in technology? If so, what is
> > going to be different, and why is there
> > any reason to believe that the effort
> > will be successful? (I suspect that any
> > such effort is fore-doomed. I'm willing
> > to be convinced otherwise, but have yet
> > to see a convincing argument.)
> > Analogy: What we really need is a
> > transportation system that allows your
> > personal auto to become part of a "train".
> > That allows efficient, hands-off travel
> > while preserving the benefit of autonmous
> > travel at your destination. But that
> > requires everyone to change everything,
> > all at once, and it just ain't gonna happen
> > in this lifetime...
> > Toffler pointed out that new technologies first
> > replace the preexisting models. Only later are
> > they expanded into new territories. It seems
> > clear to me that a system which provides immediate
> > benefits comes into use. The co-evolution that
> > occurs in system functionality and human use then
> > produces even greater benefits.
> > But to speak of the "human system" as anything
> > other than a naturally evolving system is to
> > defeat the project before it gets started.
> > If the evolutionary hypothesis is accepted, then
> > the only significant aspect of the system is how
> > it will make your life better today -- before you
> > change anything at all about the human systems
> > you are used to.
> > Again, I believe the document you've constructed
> > accurately reflects the issues as they have been
> > formulated to date. I just believe that the
> > particular formulation we've all seen has always
> > been, and will continue to be, an "impossible sell".
> > Believe it or don't, use it or toss it.
> > Them's my thoughts.
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