[ 16/6/20 ]
As others have noted, evolution is not about advancement, it is about differential rates of survival in different contexts.
Right now, in terms of genetics, most people are surviving past reproductive age in the developed world, so the gene frequency changes are not being driven by differential death rates but by differential birth rates. I will leave you to follow that line of thought for yourself.
Genetic evolution is slow.
Mimetic evolution is far faster.
We have all seen in the last few weeks how a single well publicised event (a policeman killing a civilian by kneeling on their neck until they died) can cause mass change in social behaviour and attention.
That nobody present intervened demonstrates that human life has a very low value in American society today. It showed in practice that human life is way down the order of priorities for almost everyone, in practice, in reality, in real situations. Despite the USA claiming to have “life and liberty” as primary values – the evidence is clearly otherwise.
That level of cognitive dissonance is difficult for most people.
Under stress, we all resort to simple models, that is hard coded into our neuro-physiology by hundreds of millions of years of evolution.
So what is evolving rapidly if not genes?
What are memes?
Memes are to information and behaviour what genes are to atoms and bodies – units of transmissible and recombinable information.
For every level of complexity one sees in the complex of life in genes, from atoms through to ecosystems; one can see equivalent levels present in the world of memes.
As we can see on social media platforms like facebook, twitter, instagram etc, memes can move and recombine and replace others very quickly.
In many cases, people now have very little agency in control of their own behaviour, as most of the probability functions contributing to that behaviour have now been analysed and are being directed by AI algorithms with very simple outcomes they are targeted to achieve – time on site being the major one driving advertising revenue. So those algorithms have now analysed the biases of individuals sufficiently well to be able to curate material to them that will capture their attention and keep them on site.
The larger scale outcome of that is people are being driven to extremes by this incentive structure – it is removing the ability of groups to communicate with each other, as most people are now so far removed from reality that they are essentially living in virtual reality that they are sure and true and that everyone else is wrong.
Me – I live with uncertainty in everything, and some probabilities that are very reliable in most contexts.
So in this sense, the incentives of the market place are moving the mimetic structures towards irrecoverable failure modalities that unless more people start waking up and acting, threaten the survival of all of us.
In a very real sense, it is now memes driving the survival of genes.
Evolution is alive and well, and progressing at a pace that very few people have much idea of at all, and we are all at risk because of that fact.