Have we, as a species, domesticated ourselves? Does it make sense to reclaim parts of our wild side?
I have been feeling uncomfortable. As I continue the journey from my blissful ignorance to a misty partial understanding of some things I am feeling like a chap in The Matrix who has an inkling that the world isn’t quite as they may have thought it to be.
Of course, in this case, it isn’t that I believe that I am really in a dream state helping to power the robot overlords. However, I do wonder if I am part of a human farm of another context.
I used to be so smug. 2014. Science. Technology. Aren’t we all that. The bees knees you could say. Sure we had massive issues in the world and global warming could be the latest thing to destroy us, but we have such smart people! We always survive.
Even when aliens rain down on us, humans (normally) prevail. Even if we are out matched…. we have spirit! Ingenuity! Kirk will make it happen.
Of course nature doesn’t care. More species are extinct than we can see today. It isn’t even close (~50MN species out of ~1-4BN). And if you go into the world of bacteria? Yowsers.
There are people, ideas, and creations that I think are very special to me. This doesn’t mean that the universe thinks that humans are special.
While we as humans may not be as evolving at an increased speed, the fact that we are a great swiss army knife of a species means that we have been able to build tools to leverage the environment. Through medicine and surgery and agriculture massive changes have come about in a minuscule evolutionary window. It is truly hard to fathom the scale. So much has changed for us in a sliver of time.
The era of agriculture
I wonder how we will look back at agriculture and the side effects. Until recently I may have only thought it a good thing. We got to build a scale of food production that could (maybe?) feed the world. It enabled us to settle and spend more of our time on non “finding food to survive” activities. So much good came of all of this.
However, did it also not start the process of domestication. While we enjoy being proud domesticators of beasts and plants a like, is it maybe us that have been domesticated too? We often joke that:
“Are we at the top of the food chain or was it the corn that won!”
You could replace “corn” in that line for various other items (various bacteria for example!)
The industrial food machine is awful, we know that. Food in general is changing and we are all seeing the effects. It isn’t that we sacrifice everything else and we prosper. In fact, we have a huge increase in obesity, mental illness, and degenerative diseases. We are a complex system, and so is the planet. Our doctors are not given all of the tools to heal and instead are only able to be reactive, with the ability to solve an emergency situation, but we aren’t setup to fix the problem before it even came about.
Oh, it’s worth it. We are fat and happy! We can hang out and watch TV vs. run after our food. Turn that around on the animals though. We have found that captivity doesn’t do wonders for our animals and we are creating our own captivity. When you compare a wild cow on the pasture vs. one stuck in the complex, what do you think? Do you think “lucky guy… he gets to be out of the rain!”
We have created our own limits, but I wonder if this can all end up OK. Many poor side effects came about due to the globalization of the agriculture-d conquerors. Fast forward to today and we have some tools that are truly magic. If we can find the balance between finding our wild ways, and keeping pushing with knowledge, then we can find a good path. If we can do it swiftly, maybe we can find a path that gets us onto other planets one day.
As an engineer I always despise a single point of failure. It could be one teacher in a classroom, or one planet for us to live on. We need to scale out, for the sake of our species (we can argue if that matters 😉
If we pull it all off, maybe then all of this waste and some of the mistaken ways may have been the path taken that gets us to evolve to the next point.
We can build systems and solutions that enable us the time to create and push our species forward. We can balance science and technology to provide, without us going to extremes and ending with destruction.
Man, that would be wild.