23.10.2008 News

Human Race:Evolution or Devolution-my take

23.10.2008 LISTEN

The answer to this question depends, in part on the definition we give to evolution. It's a good feeling to think we are evolving and that somehow we are “better” than our ancestors. We've got all the technology to show for our “advanced” mental abilities.

However, I consider such thinking to be hollow. Our devolution is quite artificial and man-made. The free dictionary defines evolution as “a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”. I would like to think we have really “evolved” but I am afraid we have actually devolved. By the very definition above, to evolve, we must continue to work our bodies completely, making the body and mind do more than they did before. Instead, we have come to rely on technology to do what our minds and bodies used to do. But these are things we have developed to help the disabled people to live and survive within our society, within our world. This may be an improvement for them, but by encouraging perfectly able people to use these technological methods we have actually "disabled" ordinary people.

For example, we rely on vehicles to get us around. Certainly there are many people I know who will use their car to travel less than half a mile. They don't want to walk anymore, and once they stop doing this they lose the ability to do so. No wonder so many perfectly capable people are becoming obese and unfit. They no longer make their bodies or minds do as much as people did in the past, all because mankind developed technological methods to help the physically and mentally disabled to survive and be as much like the rest of the human race as possible!

Computers can be very helpful creations, especially to those people who have a disability, or an ever increasing workload with few people and hours to do it. But I have also watched as major companies and organisations have insisted on "replacing" people with computers, not enlist them to help people with their jobs. In the end, we are becoming a poorer society as far as abilities and capabilities are concerned, and whereas we were told technology would make things quicker, everything is slowing down and takes a lot longer. Why? Because the technology requires such a long list of logical processes to be completed, whereas the human brain and body were once capable of doing these things very quickly with just a simple thought. We have lost our way where technology is concerned.
What makes it worse is the way the computer and calculator are replacing the brain's own ability to do mental arithmetic and other memory feats. Because information is available at our fingertips, via a machine such as a computer or calculator we have become lazy at helping our brain to work things out itself. I understand that at times we need these answers quickly and efficiently, but the opportunity cost here is that we loose the chance to develop our brains for the same tasks.

Yes, it may be that the machine can give us instant access to information, but how much of that information is actually retained by the brain? Very little you will find if you truly ask a school child today. Even adults are becoming lazy in that way, and I won't deny there are times I just opt for the lazy way myself, but I know that in the long run I am losing the ability to remember, to retain memory, to calculate, and carry out a process mentally. This is how we have "devolved".
Looking back at some films from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and see how fit, healthy, and adept people were then. Now, we seem to struggle to do even the simplest thing without a machine to help us in some form.

I have never learned to drive a vehicle and I think perhaps that is one of the most important things I have refused to do. It means I have to either rely on public transport to travel long distances quickly, or else walk quite a long distance to get to where I want to go. Because of this I am capable of getting to my college campus on my own two feet on time for every lecture.
Most people are given the idea that all those who are overweight are automatically unfit and all those who are thin are fit. If only they realized that you can be overweight and fit, and thin and unfit. This notion again, is fallacious.

Mankind has, via the industrial revolution, brought pollution to many of the planet's resources. We need those resources to survive but we are more concerned with inanimate resources than vital survival ones. There are youngsters today who don't know where milk comes from, or bread. Everything to them comes from a carton, a box, or a parcel, and all of these are bought from a shop. How these things got to the shop is a mystery that they are not encouraged to understand.

Yes, Mankind, the human race, is devolving but only because it has forgotten how adaptable, how important it is, to do things personally, to keep our bodies and minds very active, and to carry out physical and mental activities to keep ourselves fit.
Everything in life has a peak to reach before it declines: the human race has reached its point and is now in decline - devolving, due to its own actions, not nature's. Perhaps we can stop this decline, but it requires effort on behalf of everyone, and a limited reliance on technology if we are ever to succeed.

The author is a Ghanaian graduate Student in .
Correspondence email: [email protected]

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