Humans in a million years

4th June 2024 | Human Nature, Life on Earth, People
HUMANS IN A MILLION YEARS

Introduction

Although it is widely recognized that in a million years the Earth and its continents will look much the same as they do now, and that the sun will still be operating as usual, humans are likely to be quite different and likely even unrecognizable compared to today’s version.

And their lives, of course, will be completely different.

How would we change?

If the planet is highly populated it is likely that we would be smaller, needing less energy than we do now. Also it is quite likely that we would carry high-tech implants that monitor and correct health deficiencies. Nanobots would be all the rage!

We may even morph into a hybrid species of biological and artificial beings! 

Currently we have the technology to change the genes of an embryo. It is very controversial and no one’s sure what will happen next. However, such technology may be dictated by environmental survival, rather than just the wishes of the parents. Will we still be eating meat, for example? Will there be a technology that sways us towards the types of foods we consume for the benefit of the planet?

Is it likely we will become more alike each other to the point where we need a brain implant to remember names?

What does Science Fiction think?

Science fiction authors thrive on the prospects of future humans becoming different.

H. G. Wells was one of the first to realize that humans could evolve into something very alien. In his 1883 essay, Man in the year million, he envisioned what’s now become a cliche: big-brained, tiny-bodied creatures. Later, he speculated that humans could also split into two or more new species. In essence he stated that we could either go extinct, turn into several species, or completely change.

We have technology that could greatly increase the probability of any of them.

Future technologies such as human enhancement (using drugs, microchips, genetics or other technology), brain emulation (uploading our brains to computers), or artificial intelligence, may produce forms of new species not seen in today’s biology. Such ‘advancements’ leave most people cold, but so does the stupidity of wars and aggression.

Conclusion

A million years is a long time, perhaps not on Earth’s timescales, but certainly on humankind’s. Man will need to subdue his negative tendencies and learn to co-exist peacefully for those million years, if he is to survive them at all. Technology can help with this, but not if it is not shared. It can also be the seed of destruction in the wrong hands.

The jury is out.

References and future reading and viewing

https://www.livescience.com/59115-year-million-series-explores-future-of-humanity.html

https://www.bbcearth.com/news/what-will-humans-look-like-in-a-million-years

https://theconversation.com/cyborgs-v-holdout-humans-what-the-world-might-be-like-if-our-species-survives-for-a-million-years-195051

H. G. Wells’s “The Man of the Year Million” on JSTOR