Now that we are poised at being technically capable of taking over from evolution, where might we take our species?
First off, is our culture even remotely up to the question?
Seeing how well our culture has been handling the responsibilities that came with the powers of fossil carbon energy that God in Her infinite wisdom handed us, I’m leery.
On the one hand our Utah legislature yearly tries to pass a bill that in some way or another discourages evolution from being taught within our school system, while, meanwhile, our Utah State University is working on applying the principles of evolution to design fuel producing bacteria. We already are applying the principles of evolution to the food we eat. And here we are on the cusp of becoming capable of applying the principles of evolution to the very beings we are, while our culture can’t even decide whether it’s even willing to believe those principles.
There’s a tiny bit of a mismatch between our culture and our responsibilities, wouldn’t you say? It’s a bit like handing the car keys to an adolescent.
Here is our adolescent culture that has matured only slightly since the Dark Ages and here are our technical capabilities roaring ahead ready or not into the 21st century.
I wish we could allow our culture some time to catch up a bit, which maybe we could by easing up on the biggest driver of this change, our high fertility. And who urges on our high fertility here in Utah? Our conservative culture that can’t cope with the changes its own behaviors drive. There’s a bit of irony.
That being said, what’s it going to be, humanity?
Should we become more plant like or more animal like? Perhaps we could take some of the virtues of each.
Me, I quite admire plants. I like how they generally don’t go around killing and eating other beings but rather gather their own solar energy. As a person who’s installed solar power myself, I quite admire that. I like how brilliantly plants do so much with so little. No need to dig deep into the earth to mine metals. No need for high temperature processes. They synthesize everything they need from just ordinary stuff lying around and sunlight. It makes what people do look crude by comparison.
Still, I don’t want to be a plant. I don’t want to be tied down. I want mobility.
And anyway, we don’t necessarily need to become photosynthesizers ourselves when we can design photosynthesizers to provide the energy our animal bodies need.
In fact, we could probably do away with most of what today needs to be manufactured. Why manufacture stuff? Don’t manufacture. Grow.
You need a house? Grow a house.
Don’t impose designs upon materials from without. Grow the design from within through being in harmony with the nature of the materials. Build at the molecular level. That, I’m thinking, will be the wave of the future.
It sure would be nice to take human development down a different road from the one we’ve been on, in which humanity has morphed into a deadly cancer on the Earth seemingly hell bent on killing its host with processes that are incompatible with biology.
It sure would be nice to have a way of life where, if Spain defaults on its loans, I don’t lose my meal ticket in Utah because I’m using solar energy and some ordinary stuff lying around in my back yard to grow everything I need.
And, it would be nice to loosen the grip on us that a shrinking number of extremely wealthy and powerful people have through owning the stuff that they make good and sure we remain addicted to in order to live.
A car though? Or an airplane? Could you grow an airplane? A speacecraft? We might still need a bit of manufacturing with mined metals.
Or, who says we have to confine ourselves to carbon? We could go the way of the Transformers and become living molecular machinery using other elements besides carbon.
My son is way into Transformers. I’m intrigued by the possibility that these Transformers could be living among us right now as ordinary objects, and we’d never know.
Another intriguing thing about Transformers I’ve learned from listening to my son describe their adventures at length, there are all the great themes of biological human literature within the Transformer comics. All the great passions, all the great tragedies are there, and the search for redemption.
Not that I’m eager to become a Transformer. I’m merely exploring the possibilities here.
Ready or not, people, unsettling possibilities are coming at us like a – I was going to say freight train, but that is just so a 20th century anachronism – like a Cybertrillion or maybe even Decepticon.