Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Homo Sapiens Fortunatus

Oliver Curry, a research associate in the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science of the London School of Economics, speculates that human beings may evolve into two separate species based on socio-economic status.

From The Times UK:
The future ascent (and descent) of man
By Mark Henderson, Science Editor
Within 100,000 years the divide between rich and poor could lead to two human sub-species

HUMANITY could evolve into two sub-species within 100,000 years as social divisions produce a genetic underclass, a scientist said yesterday.

The mating preferences of the rich, highly educated and well-nourished could ultimately drive their separation into a genetically distinct group that no longer interbreeds with less fortunate human beings, according to Oliver Curry.

Dr Curry, a research associate in the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science of the London School of Economics, speculated that privileged humans might over tens of thousands of years evolve into a “gracile” subspecies, tall, thin, symmetrical, intelligent and creative. The rest would be shorter and stockier, with asymmetric features and lower intelligence, he said.

Dr Curry’s vision echoes that of H. G. Wells in The Time Machine. He envisaged a race of frail, privileged beings, the Eloi, living in a ruined city and coexisting uneasily with ape-like Morlocks who toil underground and are descended from the downtrodden workers of today.
Read the rest of the article.

Damn, that's just depressing.

Based on the rest of the article, this guy isn't on-board with Ray Kurzweil's Singularity theory. But then, not too many people are. Curry's vision of the future sounds rather unpleasant to me -- maybe I'll be reborn as a rock or some other inanimate thing.

The idea of Homo Sapiens Fortunatus (my term) is rather gross. The idea that we would allow the already disturbing gap between the haves and the have nothings to continue to grow to the point that they evolved into distinct genetic groups is about the most horrific future I can imagine.

We have a moral obligation to do better. I don't know what that might look like, but I know that we can do better than we are right now.


Anonymous said...

Don't worry, I read several blogs by actual evolutionary biologists, and they all agree that Curry, who is an economist, doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. Check out this entry, which gives links to a couple more at the end, and also this one, that focuses on a specific mistake.

william harryman said...

Hey Bill,

Thanks for the links. I'll give them a look.


Anonymous said...

plus there will always be the sperm banks which will switch things up a bit.


Anonymous said...

I read the original paper that this was based on—this seems to be a case of bad reporting. It was just a simple explanation of evolution for a TV show, and instead of using real-life examples to illustrate it, Curry made the mistake of creating some examples of what particular evolutionary forces might do to humans. He explicitly says they're not predictions—just illustrations, but the reporters decided that "pert breasts" made better copy than boring old scientific theory.
Curry didn't seem too happy about how it got skewed.