The theory of biological evolution, the radical theory that changed the way humans looked at themselves and solved lot of our philosophical struggles, is one of the obvious facts of life. Despite its ground-breaking revelations, the theory is still struggling to get itself accepted by the large public outside scientific communities and intellectuals. The reason is nothing but the fact that it challenges the basic belief systems, that are millennia old, of what we are and how we came to existence. As we, the currently alive organisms, are the latest of those ever lived on earth in its history, this is an effort to identify what is next and thereby designing the future and our role in building it.
The macro-organism, the man-machine hybrid society
We now know that all organisms evolved from simple cell like organisms millions or billions of years back, though we are in a process of understanding how the earliest of them came in to existence. From single celled organisms(Prokaryote), life evolved in to multi-celled organisms(Eukaryotes) leading to our(humans) very own form. We are nothing but millions of living cells bound together by their products (like proteins) . And we along with other social animals have developed a higher dimensional synergistic entities called societies. Social entities include ant colonies, animal herds, flocks of birds, human families, cities…
In the same line if we can extend, we can see a bigger organism forming. A macro-organism of global scale. Many call it gaia, biosphere, noosphere etc. As most organisms matures(growth process is peaked or stabilized) , it reproduces. So how is this gaia/noosphere/biosphere is reproducing? Answer may be “by planetary seeding”. The humanity, the cells of the macro-organism, bounded by the pressures of the shrinking resources have long started looking for them outside our planet. The ever increasing interest in space missions and research is clear evidence for this. So noosphere/gaia/biosphere, although complex with in itself, will act like a eukaryote splitting in to two as we will find a habitable environment in other planets or stellar systems. Latest researches hints life could have been reached from outside our planet through meteorites or comets(panspermia theory). Rockets and spaceships are like pollen/sperm carrying seeds away from the parent.
Silicon based life forms?
As evolution is through changes in all directions, another notable phenomenon is the development of brain and the ability to use tools. These features are not limited to humans. In fact numerous animals show some levels of intelligence and tool using abilities- crows, dolphins, chimpanzees, octopuses and other Cephalopods etc. One of the remarkable tool invented by human collective intelligence is the computers and the Internet. This is amazingly analogous to the neural networks of animal brains. And the fractal expansion of the simpler to complex evolving process is happening in the Internet and world wide web as well. We are probably in a process of creating a complex man-machine hybrid society that complements each others functions. The spawn of artificial intelligence is most likely will be in this hybrid society as a collective intelligence rather than the conventional notion of a single machine surpassing human intelligence. Though both are simultaneously possible.
The basic element powering the computers and other electronics is the element Silicon. As we know that Carbon is the basic element of the foundation of all living organisms on earth, the rise of Silicon and an artificial intelligence like the one humans are creating on earth in the form of Internet and world wide web is a striking shift in the evolutionary process of a Carbon based life form learning about the evolutionary process and uses the lessons and spawning a silicon based life form further in the chain. This is not exactly like the concept of Silicon Biochemisty
Here is an interesting talk about the human evolution :