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Evolution Devolution…

July 27, 2010


As my meaningful exchanges with the ROW (rest of the world) get deeper and more interesting and I got more time to ponder them, a very curious and rather earth-shaking thought came my way. I grabbed it because I’d never seen it before. I’m a bibliophile and had never read it either. Yet, something tells me it has been hidden deep in global consciousness and is now rising to the surface.

It is a “pandora’s box” thought and one that can really jolt a thinking person’s reality.

And that thought was this…

Hum-unkind stopped evolving right about the time the industrial revolution rolled in, a poseidon-esque wave that was self-aware, like all entities, at birth. And as machines have evolved, hum-unkind has devolved.

*pause for reflection*

You see, the theme that was being shown clearly was that people pointed around them at buildings and cars and planes and hospitals and all of hum-unkind’s other “achievements” and claimed to be evolved as a result, or by association.

QED. End of story.

Not in my book. In my book, hum-unkind started de-volving in concert  with the rise/evolution of the industrial revolution. We stopped evolving and machines started evolving.

Our “achievements” are actually the achievements of our “things”, who have managed to evolve through our industry. But we have not evolved.

I hope you can see what I’m saying. A modern passenger plane is an evolutionary leap on the first flying machine. But it does not reflect any real evolution in us. We devolved and laboured so that the passenger plane could evolve.

But as a species, we are now much weaker than our ancestors and machines are far stronger than theirs. Temporally linked too. Indubitably!

You can draw the same parallel in everything that we claim as an “achievement” that somehow reflects “our” evolution. No!

A modern day car is not an evolved human, it is an evolved car.

A space ship is not an evolved human, it is a highly evolved flying machine.

We are not machines. We, humans are weaker now and growing weaker everyday. On a downward slide. Inexorably in the grip of some strong suction spiral. Downward. And I suspect it is machine driven. All of those science fiction stories about machine wars came from  forecasting a trend they could discern even back then (Jules Verne as an example). Logical extrapolation of how hum-unkind’s industry was being put towards the evolution of machines and to their own detriment.

Imagine no power for a week. How about a month? No gasoline for 3 days, globally. No global commerce, absolute freeze, for one day.  Major city, no fresh water supply for 7 days. Major trading corporation, computer system inoperable for 1 day. Global stock-market freeze due to computer system glitch. All of the above are very high-probability scenarios at this time and we are not evolved enough to handle any of them. Neither us nor our machine “achievements”.

The premise is an important one, I feel. If we can look around us, particularly at ourselves, in the mirror, in the mirror of our society, in the mirror inside, we will, or at least many of us will, discern a certain acceleration of decay. Longer is not better, life-wise.

If the premise is correct, then is there anything we can do, as hum-unkind, to change directions? Or is this a cyclical inevitability, like a change of seasons. We must devolve to evolve again.

Even then, there is a deep lesson to be had, if we can stop looking outward and point to our things as signposts of our own evolution. Usually, the exact opposite is true.

The truly wise need nothing to justify their existence, whether beggarly or exalted.

And that is the sythesis-tic resolution of the evolution devolution dichotomy.


And as with-in so with-out.

The more you know yourself, the more you know the world.

In-volute spirals are inherently creative. Evolute spirals are de-creative.

Find a way to in-volute. Get in-volved. Get ex-solved. Clear the registers. Run a disk clean-up.

Re-store. Powerful word. Re-store energy through in-voluting.

It’s a counter-current, but there are ways to tap into it. Like salmon tap into counter-currents to swim upriver. Counter-current, counter-herd, counter-norm.

This is a rich and enriching time to be that way.

Anyone trying the first exercise?



5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2010 1:22 pm

    It is a common misconception that “evolution has stopped” since industrial revolution. But if you have a more genuine understanding of evolution, you would understand that there is no such thing as stopping evolution. Evolution is the species adapting to their environment. If the environment changes a few lucky individuals will have the properties that enables them to survice and procreate more relativly. The environment consists of rocks, atmosphere, water with nutrients and toxins etc. But also of other species, virus and bacteria. Virus and backteria have much shorter generations so they evolve, e.g. adapt, much faster. Which means that the immuno-system of the humans always lags behind.

    What would be needed for evolution to stop?

    1. No evironmental changes
    2. No other species which evolve
    3. More or less, no development.

    Life will continue to evolve as long as it remains on earth. But to evolve does mean that it gets more beautiful, complex and bigger. It could be the exact opposite, it depends on what the environment can support.


    • July 27, 2010 1:56 pm

      Hi Nils,

      We are in agreement as far as what you’ve written. I am additionally making the point that we are definitely de-volving at this time. That each successive generation is essentially “weaker” than the preceding one, but might have better toys or stronger machines to show for it. Which, in my mind, is the evolution of the machine, not of the species that created it.

      • July 27, 2010 2:56 pm

        It is an interesting topic! I don’t think that we are weaker in a way that matters for evolution, i.e. that our dna is “weaker”. I think the latest changes that have occured to us has to do with fighting viral infections which have become more common since we live more densily and meet very many people compared to the stoneage. As for the industrial revolution, I believe that the correct perspective is instead that the industrial development has been so fast so that appears as though evolution stands still, but it is moving. Many children in the west have problems with allergy, asthma and maybe obesity. If the consequences are servere enough, evolution would eventually change this. But probably what is more likely to happen before that is that the industrial society devolves and dissolves as fossil resources get scarcer. I don’t think we are weaker, but I do think our culture is much more reliant on external resources than before, and this is a weakness in the perspective of resilience. Also the monocultures we tend to grow on our fields (also applies to forestry) are less resilient than what used to be there.

  2. ZenDraken permalink
    January 12, 2011 7:02 pm

    Fascinating ideas, but here’s a different way of looking at it:

    We may be weaker as individual organisms, but we are stronger as a larger meta-organism. We are cells in the body of a larger being that is itself growing and evolving. All of humanity, taken together with all of our technology, amounts to a single organism in it’s own right.

    This is analogous to the evolution of single cells into multicellular life. The individual cells of your body are too weak and specialized to live on their own any more, but your body as a whole can last a long time in environments which would quickly kill individual cells.

    Our technology is merely a part of the meta-organism, much like our bones are part of us. The machinery and organization is necessary for the meta-organism to function as a whole, but we as individual ‘cells’ perceive technology as something separate and even alien.

    This is a difficult idea to face when we have our own consciousness and free-will. Does the meta-being have it’s own consciousness and it’s own free-will? If so, it’s desires and motivations are not necessarily accessible to us, and may be as incomprehensible to us as our thoughts are to one of our own neurons. This may be a disturbing thought to a neuron, but there’s nothing it can do about it.

    • January 13, 2011 2:54 am

      Fascinating idea in return ZenD. The overmind, meta-organism.
      Quite a beast though, eh? All smooth in the electronics and messy in the mechanicals.

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