Human evolution is often talked about like something that came to a halt centuries ago, but we’re always evolving, if not in a genetic sense exactly, at least in an environmental or situational sense. For example, over the last century, we’ve collectively grown taller, larger, and our lifespans have nearly doubled. Evidence suggests that this type of progress will continue to occur.
Below are 12 changes that you can expect to undergo if you somehow manage to make it to 2118.
As our bodies evolve to reduce the impact that results from falls and other injuries, neuroscientists believe we might follow the example of the shark and develop more cartilage in our skeletons. This could be of value as rigid and inflexible bones won’t be essential to humans.
2. We’ll Be Taller
Just as we have gotten fatter, humans have generally gotten taller in the last century, and this seems likely to continue. A century ago, American men were an average of 5 feet 7 inches, and they’re now an average of 5 feet 10 inches. If this growth rate continues for another 100 years, we could all end up looking like basketball players.
3. We’ll Have Harder-Working Lungs
According to Juan Enriquez, Harvard researcher and managing director of Excel Venture Management, we’re all going to need lungs and muscles that take in more oxygen, which would be extremely valuable in low-oxygen environments such as Mars. This might mean evolving over time or through genetic redesign.
We are having to process far more data today than even a couple of years ago, and the workload seems likely to only increase. Enriquez believes that this influx of data might be triggering different responses from different people. He says that “we’re trying to process so much stuff that some people get synesthetic and just have huge pipes that remember everything. Other people get hyper-sensitive to the amount of information. Other people react with various psychological conditions or reactions to this information."
5. Our Memories Will Be Downloadable
Enriquez says that “it’s not completely inconceivable that someday you’ll be able to download your own memories, maybe into a new body. Maybe you’ll be able to upload other people’s memories as well.” Experiments are already being conducted on mice at MIT.
6. We’ll Merge with Machines
Futurist Ian Pearson suggests that we can expect to see our brains wired to computers to help make our minds work faster in a matter of decades. He says that “we can expect this as soon as 2050 for many people. By 2075, most people in the developed world will use machine augmentation of some sort for their brains and, by the end of the century, pretty much everyone will.”
According to Enriquez, genetic manipulation would allow for the eradication of genetic diseases such as Huntington’s, and Cystic Fibrosis.
8. We’ll Have Improved Sight and Hearing
Just as genetic diseases will become less common, so too will sensory loss, such as blindness and deafness, since leaps in technological improvements could all but eradicate such impairments.
Enriquez says, “Remember the evolution of hearing aids, right? I mean your grandparents had those great big cones, and then your parents had those odd boxes that would squawk at odd times during dinner, and now we have those little buds that nobody sees. And the same thing is happening in eyes. There is a group in Germany that’s beginning to engineer eyes so that people who are blind can begin to see light and dark. And then they’ll be able to see shape, then they’ll be able to see color, and then they’ll be able to see in definition. One day, they’ll be able to see as well as you or I can, and soon after that, they’ll be able to see in ultraviolet.”
9. We’ll Have More Allergies
All these genetic improvements could have the opposite result – as our conditions improve and we’re less often exposed to bugs, bacteria, and infection, we might develop allergies to formerly harmless substances.
Dean Burnett, author of “The Idiot Brain”, says that “our immune systems are primed to do that but they’re kind of bored. Instead, they respond to innocuous allergies and we lose exposure to things that strengthen our immunity. We could end up with weaker immune systems, but we might live in a society that doesn’t need them.”
Just looking at the trend lines of the last 100 years seems to make this seem the likely directions that humans are heading. “Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the last 33 years,” researchers wrote in “The Lancet” in 2014. At the current rate, it’s fair to assume that we might keep getting bigger unless some serious changes are made.
11. We’ll Get Comfortable with Scorching Temperatures
As global warming continues, we’ll have to find ways to adapt. According to climatologist Matthew Huber, “there is a wide zone over which people can adjust their behavior to withstand very warm conditions – as temperatures increase, humans will just learn to adapt.”
12. We’ll Look Younger
Thanks to the progress made in age-reversal technology, it will get a lot easier to reverse the negative effects of aging and keep ourselves looking younger than what we actually are. A person who is in their 50s or 60s will look like they’re actually in their 30s or 40s.