Technology and human evolution - the next great leap forward

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Technology and human evolution

the next great leap forward

19 September 2012

Technology has often been the catalyst for evolutionary leaps when it comes to the history of
the human race

whether we are talking about the first tools to create fire and mass farming
many milennia ago or the internet and social networks of today. But
are we ready for the next
steps on the evolutionary scale, where technology becomes almost invisible but
overwhelmingly powerful in our lives?


These advances might include contact lenses that
allow us to look at the internet without touching a computer, b
athroom mirrors with sensors
that evaluate our health as we brush our teeth in the morning, self
driving maglev cars,
elevators to space, pocket DNA
testing machines, three dimensional printers, hologram
televisions, ear implants that translate foreign lan
guages into our own, nano
machines in our
bodies to fight infection and disease as well as companions and workers that can best be
described as artificial intelligence cyborgs.


In fact, Professor Michio Kaku in his book
Physics of the Future: the inventio
ns that will transform our lives
writes in all seriousness
about humans attaining the power of "the gods we once worshipped and feared" by 2100

when almost every object, living or not, could have hidden computers with the potential to be
controlled by hu
man thought alone. "Our tools will not be wands and potions but the science
of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and quantum theory," says


With this in mind,
this week published an article on
Frequency Identification or RFID tag technology

being used in humans. In the piece,
Professor Nada Kakabadse and Professor And
rew Kakabadse speculate about RFID
becoming a "profound technology" due to its small and unobtrusive size, which will allow it to
become indistinguishable from the fabric of everyday life. But, they warn: "But when
technology pierces the skin and invades t
he sovereign state of the human body

it enters a
domain awash with ethical, moral, political and philosophical controversy.


"We know that
RFID technologies promise enormous benefits in areas ranging from security and health
monitoring to business effici
ency. But there is a dark side to the technology; a potential for
abuse. To those with no love of individual freedom and self

it opens up
seductive new vistas for control, manipulation and oppression.


"Who owns the implanted
microchip? Are

the benefits for the implanted individual proportionate to the rights foregone?
Who has access to the information transmitted? Is consent to the implant fully informed? Who
guarantees the individual's rights against violation? How medically safe and techn
secure is the technology? The wider use of RFID implants in humans may be inevitable, but it
should not go unchallenged. A full debate is needed about the ethical and health issues, to
ensure deployment of implants comply with Article 3 of the Unite
d Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. It asserts the right to 'life, liberty and security of person'."


as we move into this
Brave New World
, which is way beyond anything imagined by Aldous
Huxley in his 1931 landmark futurist novel of the sa
me name, society must decide just how
much it is willing to give away in pursuit of the next technological big bang. The rise of the
omnipotent machines must be accompanied by the rise of public awareness and the rise of
regulation. Otherwise, we could be
on a very sinister evolutionary path indeed. It is highly
likely that those first pioneering fire watchers had similar thoughts all those millennia ago; we
must not let our great ancestors down by sleepwalking into a technological nightmare of our
own maki