Comments on Juan Enriquez’s TED talk on “Homo Evolutis”
There are some amazing advancements in genetics and robotics presented by Juan Enriquez in his talk at TED earlier this year in February. You can watch and listen to his talk here:
While the technological advancements are amazing and may certainly overshadow our economic woes I respectfully disagree with his conclusion that we are becoming a new species he called “Homo Evolutis.” I would say that we already have been “Homo Evolutis” for a very long time. The moment that we began to cultivate and domesticate our own food is when we took charge of our destiny and became Homo Evolutis. The only problem is that recently we haven’t really been doing a good job at it and if we don’t change we just might become Homo Extinctus.
While it’s amazing that we may soon be able to replace our teeth with real teeth and other parts of ourselves, I don’t think it will lead to us being better or more evolved in any way, shape or form. In fact, in spite of incredible leaps in technology in the past, not much has really changed in terms humanity’s wisdom, dreams and aspirations. We can still use technology for destructive purposes and a new genetic and robotic technology will not improve our judgment to do so. Indeed, for all it’s benefits it will also bring us much closer to visions of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” or a high-tech version of Hitler’s “Master Race.”
Instead, I suggest that human evolution occurs directly as the result of our relationship with what we eat and, in turn, the evolution of our food is directly connected with the changing natural environment. Unlike our ancestors who ate foods that were a direct expression of their local environments we, being so technically advanced, recently have been eating a diet of foods that have little or no relation to our immediate environment. The result is human “devolution” known as widespread diseases, including cancer, heart disease, AIDS and so many more. And given the dialectical nature of the universe and our actions, we then strive to come up symptomatic remedies for this devolution including genetic implants and robotic replacements without addressing the real cause.
And what is the real cause? I suggest that the real cause is that we have lost our direct connection with the natural world and in our arrogance continue to seek to conquer her and manipulate her for our own selfish needs. Yet, unassumingly she moves forward on her own, regardless of the fascinations of our own inventions and the self-poisoning of ourselves and our environment.
I agree with Juan Enriquez that our modern technology is astounding and miraculous but I disagree that it will be so influential that it will reboot humanity and cause us to become “Homo Evolutis”. Let us not get too enamored and arrogant about our own accomplishments. We did that before with the industrial revolution and it has only left us with a poisoned planet. We forgot the wisdom of mother nature herself. Evolution is not an isolated occurrence but is a trans-formative process that involves the whole of the universe in its entirety.
I am supportive of humanity’s technological curiosities and inventions. Indeed, it is natural for us to be so creative and inventive. However, the only way that we will ever come close to evolving ourselves as a species is by reconnecting with nature and the universe and that means returning to a diet that is in harmony with our natural environment. Unlike animals, who do not control their own food, as Homo Evolutis, we do and with our creative abilities can return ourselves to be in harmony with the greater forces of nature ( or not). Once we collectively do that and consistently become “one” with nature then perhaps, we will gain the wisdom necessary to avoid choosing a path of destruction and then evolve into what Michio Kushi called, “Homo Spiritos.” Perhaps…we shall see…
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