The noted television popular science educator Bill Nye has a new book in which he looks at the evidence for evolution: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.
Popular Science is running an excerpt of his book, in which he looks at the future of human evolution: “Is the human species still evolving?”.
I give a great many talks or lectures at universities and for general audiences. I enjoy performing, the part where I’m doing the talking and all, but my favorite part of any evening is when audience members come up to microphones and ask me questions. One of the most common themes is what people call “The Singularity.” This is a supposed imminent time (2029, in some versions of the story) when computers will become as sophisticated as human brains. From there, it is proposed, machines will be able to outcompete humans at just about everything. There will be superior car-parking algorithms, disaster-relief coordination, legal briefs, rocket science, great thinking in general. Taking it to the next logical step, this artificial intelligence will have to be managed carefully, because after all, any of these future brain machines will outthink and outmaneuver us at every practical turn.
The chapter excerpt doesn’t include any of the actual evidence of ongoing human evolution. Anthropologists and demographers have uncovered quite a lot of evidence about ongoing evolution in the last 50 years, and geneticists over the last 15 years have documented an immense store of information about evolution across the last few thousand years. Readers who want to find out more about this can check out my recent article in Scientific American, which has the online headline, “No, humans have not stopped evolving”. And a free link on the theme of recent human evolution is my 2007 post, “Why human evolution accelerated”, discussing our genetic work on the topic.