The human brain is continuing to evolve, apparently moving towards ever-greater intelligence.
I can't help but wonder what the Fundamentalist -- er, "Intelligent Design" -- contingent has to say about this. As I understand it, creationism holds that human beings are pretty much perfect the way they are, having been created instantaneously by God.
In two related papers published in the journal Science, University of Chicago researchers report that two genes linked to brain size are rapidly evolving in humans.
"Our studies indicate that the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution -- the growth of brain size and complexity -- is likely still going on," says Bruce Lahn, lead researcher for both papers and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Meanwhile, our environment and the skills we need to survive in it are changing faster then we ever imagined. I would expect the human brain, which has done well by us so far, will continue to adapt to those changes."
I'm especially interested in the neurological demands that -- according to Lahn -- come as part of a richer, information-oriented future. When does current human wetware reach its limits? Could a human as we know him/her pass for functional in a society four- or five-hundred years more advanced than our own?
Ironically, I think the future may be a substantially easier place in certain day-to-day respects. For instance, today it's simpler than ever to interface with computers thanks to intuitive, graphical interfaces. Democratized computing and access to electronic media entail dramatically revved-up usability; simply compare today's information ecology, with its ubiquitous wi-fi hotspots, to the era of behemoths like ENIAC.
Perhaps we're in the midst of a species-wide upgrade, soon to be usurped by a redefinition of intelligence itself if something like the "Singularity" comes to pass. Of course, there's also the possibility of a massive intellectual decline along the lines of the Eloi in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine"; the aforementioned Fundamentalists certainly don't bode well.