Science, Tech

Face Of Our Posthuman Progeny

Humans are primates. Our primeval ancestor, whom we share in common with the great apes, lived some 6.8 million years ago.

Sometime after that, an evolutionary divergence occurred, and the simians split off from the line that would, down a long road, give rise to a new genus—Homo—which, in turn, would give rise to humans.

The first species of this hominid group, the Homo habilis, appeared 2.4 million years ago. Homo sapiens, arrived about 200,000 years ago.

In the passage of these epochs, our brain size has increased in volume from 600 cubic-centimeters (in H. habilis) to 1,500 cubic-centimeters (in H. neanderthalensis.) Then, it shrank back a bit to what it’s now, an average of 1,350 cubic centimeters.

We’re still evolving. Only, the catalyst of our future evolution will be technology—not environment, as it’s been in the past. Unless a killer asteroid wipes us out, machines will. Alternatively, we’ll merge with them. In either scenario, the human species, as we know it today, will likely become extinct.

A new, posthuman species will emerge.

Based on a conversation with Alan Kwan, an expert in computational genomics at Washington University, in St. Louis, Missouri, illustrator Nickolay Lamm has graphed the “changing morphology of the human face over the next 100,000 years.”

Present. This is a male and a female of today.

20,000 A.D. The skull is bigger. A yellow ring appears around the pupil due to the presence of a Google Glass-like contact lens, which transmits high-resolution visual data directly to the retina.

60,000 A.D. The skull is still bigger to fit a bigger brain. The skin is darker to better deal with the effects of radiation in space colonies.

100,000 A.D. By now, we begin to look like Margaret Keane’s famous big-eyed kids.

A painting of a doe-eyed kid by Margaret Keane.



1 thought on “Face Of Our Posthuman Progeny”

  1. I believe there is little connection between evolution of the human species as mediated by technology, and the fattening of the human body as a result of spread of global consumption and lifestyle patterns. We will never evolve into koala bears; those of us who do will be kicked out of the so-called survival of the fittest regime. But yes, because of technology getting folded into our everyday lives, our brains will develop in diverse directions that might evolve us into species with bigger heads and eyes:-) Just take a look at the film, “Her”; the hero Theodore Trombley is an example of a human species with gigantic pair of eyeglasses and a looks like Groucho Marx, you know the comedian with the big head and big eyes.

    But my guess is that such evolution won’t be uniform globally; technology won’t touch lives everywhere with the same measure of influence and ubiquitousness. What Mou is talking about is consumerism and popularity of refined, fatty food. That has spread to India and China and we have as a result fatter Indians and fatter Chinese. That’s a devolution, not evolution.


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