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Science

Think of humans ‘as a little fish out of water’

There’s more than one theory of evolution, most notably Darwinian natural selection. But according to LSU biology professor Prosanta Chakrabarty, we’re still evolving.

We’re not the goal of evolution. Think of us all as young leaves on this ancient and gigantic tree of life — connected by invisible branches not just to each other, but to our extinct relatives and our evolutionary ancestors.

From pond scum to fish to humans

From fish to amphibians to reptiles to primates with big brains, every living thing today is the product of four billion years of evolution. The shared ancestry may appear linear (e.g. monkeys > chimpanzees > humans) but single cell organisms are still evolving to this day.

Meanwhile, ‘primitive’ bacteria and plants will be the ones that survive us all.

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Books Culture Science

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

“We control the world basically because we are the only animals that can cooperate flexibly in very large numbers. And if you examine any large-scale human cooperation, you will always find that it is based on some fiction like the nation, like money, like human rights. These are all things that do not exist objectively, but they exist only in the stories that we tell and that we spread around. This is something very unique to us, perhaps the most unique feature of our species.

You can never, for example, convince a chimpanzee to do something for you by promising that, “Look, after you die, you will go to chimpanzee heaven and there you will receive lots and lots of bananas for your good deeds here on earth, so now do what I tell you to do.”

But humans do believe such stories and this is the basic reason why we control the world whereas chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”

— Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Storytelling, language, memes, all released humans from the prison of biology.

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Science

6 Million Years Of Human Evolution

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The mind released homo sapiens from the constraints of biology.

But apparently it’s not enough: now we want wings. We dare to be superhumans who stick smart chips into our brains and bodies.

Catch the evolution of faces in the last six million years after the jump.

Categories
Business Psychology

An irrational reward system

Greed taints everything. It is a bug in laissez-faire economics.

The insatiable desire to have more compels humans to cheat.

Civilization intends to be wild on its fairest terms. But too many people up top are biologically prone to control natural selection. Those hit hardest become the angriest of mobs.

Economics is human, purely biological; a Darwinian struggle to come out on top in a state of unfettered capitalism.

Coercion is natural, freedom is artificial.

Once the dopamine surge subsides, it triggers the cycle to gamble all over again. In the hunt for feel-good chemicals, we lose all sense of rationality.

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Arts Life & Philosophy Tech

Tracing loops

We can trace a loop with exactitude. Replication is the first step in learning a new process and developing our own style.

The shift from copying to creating something original is a slow one. The objects already out there shape our understanding of how things usually work.

It is the desire to reinterpret a style of art, technology, or weaponry that leads to the next thing.

Developing a unique style is the culmination of making small, subjective tweaks, over time. It takes combinatorial creativity, remixing, and trial and error to develop a style we can call our own.

Reproduction kick starts evolution.

‘Faceloops’ by Matthias Brown AKA Traceloops

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Life & Philosophy Science

Evolution is all chance variation and luck


Without chance variation and experimentation, evolution does not exist. It is through struggle and adaptation we evolve.

“Evolution depends on the existence of high-fidelity copying but not perfect copying, since mutations (copying errors) are the ultimate source of all novelty.”

Daniel Dennett

It’s the imperfections that round out the edges and sustain life. But most of it’s luck. 

Good fortune rewards those who not only get the longer beak but ride out the wave of their mutation in order to advance.

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Life & Philosophy Science

Hardware of the head


The phone is negentropic; it gets better through software. Similarly, the human head carries a brain that improves over time.

Scientists have shown again and again that the mind, like a piece of software, is elastic. We are the sum of a hundred billion neurons that strengthen through knowledge and experience. Our skull evolves within a gooey flesh.

But there has to be a cap on human acuity, surely. At some point, exponents can’t go any further. We can’t get any smarter, nor pinpoint the largest number which is infinity and beyond. Even “Moore’s Law peters out, “as microchip components reach the atomic scale and conventional lithography falters,” says computer scientist Scott Aaronson.

The chances of maxing out our neurons or counting to the last number are just as slim as downloading the entire internet; it’s an impossibility, no matter how much time, cloud space or algorithms try to lead us there.

So we remain, fulfilled but never finished, searching beyond the robot and frazzled by immensity.

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Uncategorized

Darwin’s 1837 diagram of an evolutionary tree starts with “I think…” All it takes is a hunch, a guess, and the will to prove it true.  
Darwin’s 1837 diagram of an evolutionary tree starts with “I think…” All it takes is a hunch, a guess, and the will to prove it true.  

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Randomness, probability and uncertainty

antifragility: being in a position where the unexpected allows improvement, where the potential gains from a surprising event outweigh the potential losses.

Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder asks us to be ready for the unpredictable and see it as opportunity in disguise.

It’s no surprise that when bad things happen to us, our physical, emotional, and spiritual strength evolves. We’re forced to reflect, become more appreciative of the fragility of life, and make improvements where we may have previously accepted mediocrity.

Those that refuse to evolve fall at the wayside and repeat history. The unpredictable provides a valuable lesson: be ready to take advantage of the moment to become something or someone new.

Chances are if you worked for everything before, you’re more likely to rebuild again. A broken bone returns stronger. It’s a Darwinian world, after all.