Friday, June 20th, 2008

Given that I believe in natural selection, I have a theory: I think every sentient species in the universe goes through an awkward phase when the development of medicine causes natural selection to be halted, by allowing the survival of those who would have otherwise died. This changes the governing mechanism of survival from traditional Darwinism into Social Darwinism, where it is survival of the richest (and those in the best society) instead of survival of the fittest. Case in point: Genetically, we’re generally decendents of the richer people who lived in the middle-ages, not the poorer ones; they didn’t survive to reproduce as much.

Said awkward phase goes on, weakning the gene pool, as people who would have died in the old order survive and reproduce in the new order. Birth defects, bad eyesight, and other genetic illnesses propagate at a higher rate due to the people simply not dying.

Finally, all species that develop science must eventually conquer their own DNA or DNA equivalent. At this point, the science of genetics takes over. Once medical services are properly socialized throughout the whole species, defects like imperfect eyesite can be permanently ironed out. And to stop pesky mutations from watering down our DNA again in the future, natural evolution itself could be “almost” permanently halted by introducing error-correction code at a DNA level; first using parity, and later using more sophisticated techniques such as CRC checks. A lot of our DNA code is unused, and we can certainly set it up so that it repairs bad mutations.

Once this happens, natural selection has stopped, and even social darwinism has stopped. Once genetic mastery is achieved, the perfect being can be developed. Caution must be taken to ensure that peopel do not lose genetic diversity; everybody can’t be perfect in the same way or we would become vulnerable as an entire species — one plague could kill us all if we had the same immune system.

But there’s no reason everyone can’t be more or less perfect in his or her own way, and no reason that we can’t make ourselves a much more powerful species than we currently are. This may be the key to space travel and colonizing other planets: Don’t terraform the planets to suit the humans; change the humans to suit the planets. It’s probably far easier. (more…)