Are Humans Evolving or Devolving?

We think we are evolving, advancing, progressing.  Are we evolving or are we actually devolving?

As I walk through big cities and enter giant skyscrapers, to work with the good people contemplating very advanced and complex business functions, I can’t help but wonder…”Is this really as advanced as it seems?”  Could it be that all this advancement is actually creating rigidity for our survival as humans, putting our survival more at risk?

Let’s check out some of the keys to advancement in society, and I’ll let you decide if they are helping or hurting us.

Automating human interaction.  Much of what we do today is about automating manual processes.  Automation can drastically reduce errors, save time and allow humans to use their interactions for something more meaningful than completing a transaction.  The question is, are we using the freed up time for richer interactions or are we slowly moving to a world devoid of human interaction?

I was noticing that tipping can now happen offline for businesses like Starbucks and Uber. There’s no doubt that it’s convenient, but we’ve lost something in the meaning of a “gratuity.”  A gratuity is an exchange of gratitude. How much gratitude am I expressing when I click an app long after I’ve exited the store or the Uber car?

Specializing survival.  It started with farming.  Yuval Noah Harari writes about this is Sapiens. Humans started using collective power for survival.  You grow the food, I’ll sell the food, someone else can package the food, someone else can make farm equipment, and so on.  What happened eventually is that no one single human can survive on their own. It’s only gotten worse. What do you do for a living and how does it contribute to human survival?  I developed computer systems so that people could buy things online, and then I did some systems for pharma companies to market to physicians. Hardly a winning candidate for Survivor.  

This specialization creates a rigidity and dependency that is subject to topple like a domino in the face of disaster. Think about the effect of power outages. We’ve put our survival in the hands of a utility that didn’t even exist 120 years ago. We see this same phenomenon with farming, there’s a great example with bananas. Bananas were all but wiped out in the 1950 when disease spread through the entire species. When we lose diversity, we create rigidity and that lose the resiliency that you get with diversity.

The “Growth” Fallacy.  The goal of most modern companies is “growth”.  More revenue, more customers, more profit. If you can’t show growth, you are failing.  But what does all this growth really get us? Do trees need to grow? Ok bad example, but the point is, what are we doing to ourselves by always trying to grow?  What if instead our goal was to improve our quality of life? Keep your revenue the same, keep your profit the same but create a better life for your customers and employees.  What might that be like?

The “Lifesaving” Fallacy.  As a society, we tend to hate death.  We try to save lives, eradicate diseases, move up the food chain, and when someone does die there are all sorts of outrage and legal action.  We’re overpopulating the planet, mother nature is fighting back, and we don’t let anyone die. What if we accepted death as part of our lives?  Are we really evolving by keeping people alive or are we devolving?

How have you seen evolution turn to devolution? Let us know!