Published in Hong Kong Magazine in October, 2008
1. General rules of evolution
Like all other species, human beings are developed from evolution. The bio-evolution is characterized by adaptation to environment and progress towards evolution. Using the animal circle as an example in addition to mankind, all evolution can be generalized by two parts, of "body" and "instinct", which is together known as "general evolution".
First, animals must develop their limbs to survive in the environment. In order to ward off the cold, animals grew skin and hair that thickened with the height of latitude that is critical to the climate. Many gymnosperms became extinct with the flourishing of angiosperm. Whis resulted in the successive extinction of animals that ate gymnosperms, for their digestive systems could not adapt to new food. Factors that threatened the existence of rats and insects were numerous, and they might die at any time. In order to keep alive, they developed original reproductive parts that matured earlier, faster and stayed productive to allow survival after mass mortality.
The vigorous reproduction, different digestion, ability to run faster, have stronger body, etc., are exactly evolution for the survival on Earth.
But this is not enough; all kinds of animals, even with bodies that get along with the environment, will still sooner or later be eliminated if they are blunt and vacant like walking corpses. There is an equally important content in animal evolution as body development ---instinct. All animals have instinct; it is the reaction to survival, mating and forage, etc.
Animals' wisdom is not a circumstance to human beings, but their instinctive reaction may not be necessarily slower. Wild geese migrate seasonally over thousands of miles in the vast sky with an accurate sense of direction. Antelopes can acutely be aware of the presence of cheetahs and quickly escape from attacks. We find in life that, without using tools, a smart person cannot even easily catch a lower creature, such as a fly. This is the result of animals' instinctive evolution. Instinct enables animals to get food, avoid risks swiftly and raise offspring smoothly.
In the evolution of adaptation to the environment, animals can survive only by the integration of instinct and corresponding physical conditions.
2. The Imbalance in the Evolution of Human Beings
Human beings are the only creature of wisdom. The basic difference of human organic evolution from that of animals is that it begins from the brain. The brain volume has increased by almost 3 times from the starting point of evolution. During this developing process, mankind has not only experienced "general evolution" (evolution of body and instinct) that is similar to animals, but also another kind of evolution that animals lack, "intelligent evolution". This also includes two parts; one is "creativity", the other is "rationality".
Creativity refers to the ability to understand and change nature, as well as the ability to take the initiative to adapt to the environment. It is embodied in the human mastery of science and technology.
Animals can only acquire food bestowed by nature, but mankind counts on its creativity. Animals depend absolutely on their physical function and adjust the thickness and length of skin and hair seasonally to address the climate change, but mankind copes with this by clothing, housing, air-conditioners, etc. All these are done through human creativity.
Animals are irrational. They feed cubs by instinct. Animals don't eat their same kind, which shows instinct, too. Ration is a unique wisdom developed only by humanity, and an important aspect that fundamentally differs from animals. For example, humanity can make plans for the present and future, all as rational behaviors.
But there is imbalance in human evolution, which is mainly reflected on the much slower speed of rational development than creative evolution.
There are several leaps during the evolution of human creativity. Our ancestors had learned to use primitive tools millions of years ago, especially after the use of fire, which was considered as the first leap. About ten thousand years ago, human beings entered civilization as savages and started the second leap in creativity, which was habitually called agricultural evolution.
The third leap happened in the middle of the 18th century. It is symbolized by the creative application of the steamer, from which people saw the great advancement in productivity brought by machines, the ease and joy that came from the release from burdensome manual labor and irreplaceable contributions by science and technology, as well as the enormous potential fortune hidden in it. Since then, starting with the knowledge of the essence of nature and unearthing all available science and technology to create wealth became the common sense of humanity. This was the inner power that promoted human creativity to a higher level, and people called it industrial revolution.
Since then, the world has been thoroughly transformed. We have studied the smallest space inside atomic nucleus as well as the maximum to the far edge of the universe 13 billion light-years away.
According to the further analysis of the evolution of human creativity, the first leap took several millions of years and the second one lasted for ten thousand years. The third one realized in only over 200 years, which created wealth and changes far more than all the achievements people accomplished during millions of years.
We can see that based on the above that the intervals between the three creative leaps were shortened gradually by a large extent; however, the energy burst forth from every leap was much stronger than the former. This is consistent with the traditional line of the evolution theory. That is, the higher the patterns of biological evolution, the faster it will be.
However, creativity is just a part of the human intelligence evolution. The other part is the "rationality" that controls the creativity. Unfortunately, the very slow development of rationality and rapid progress of creativity presents a sharp contrast.
The creativity of animals is not comparable to that of mankind, but with respect to rationality, many of our attributes remain the same as animals, even lower than them on some levels.
In the simplest case, mankind and animals keep the typical intra-specific competition. Wars and terrorist attacks have never stopped in human history. Cannibalism is the most irrational side of human beings, who are much more creative than we were 2000 ago. But for the aspect of rationality, it is lame to say that we are getting better now.
3. Disasters of Evolution Imbalance
Imbalance indicates the deficiency of human evolution. We are not perfect. How will the imbalance impact human fate?
Analysis starting from the common characteristic of "intra-species competition" shared by human beings and animals showed that the animals tended to perform claw scratching and biting in their violent battles. This might result in casualties although it rarely happened, but mankind can bring battles into full play.
Since human beings began to get rid of their animal features, fights inside the male world were nothing more advanced than biting and scratching. But with the formation of human history, individual struggles developed into wars. Especially since the progress of science and technology, the wars have been upgraded and the killing has been expanded. The level of self-injury has been thoroughly different from all other animals.
Later, because of the higher efficiency of weapons achieved by science and technology and the revolutionary transformation in transportation, communication and media, wars swept through the entire globe. World War I and II resulted in the slaughter of tens of millions, even billions of people. Moreover, such monstrous destructions happened only in a short period.
Then terrorist attacks emerged with the formation of human society. The assassination of political figures and hatred revenge on society has been there since the beginning. The killing means in the age of cold steel was very limited by knife and sword, each time with only one person injured or killed. Normally, the terrorist attacks at that time just led to individual bloodshed.
However, with today's highly developed science and technology, the risks of terrorist attacks have been virtually changed. For example, aircraft characteristics allow attacks during flight, killing millions of lives, and the constantly increasing height of buildings laid ground for terrorists launching explosions with planes. Thus, there are events like airplanes crashing into and explosives blowing up buildings, resulting in thousands of deaths and wounds.
It can be seen that human rationality is limited. The intra-species competition and mutual slaughter is a hidden heritage that may occur in extreme ways, but until now, it has not been properly evolved. At the same time, human creativity has been developed at full swing. The extreme means of primitive people were just limited to wooden sticks and rocks, which were used in not only production and working, but also mutual slaughter, although with weak antipersonnel force in both group or individual attacks. Human groups were living in a society organized by acquisition and migration. Small groups had small fights, which meant small casualties.
Productive standard was rising with the development of technology. Mankind gradually settled down and built villages, tribes and countries, inventing the knife, sword and chariot. Thus, such organizing patterns of human groups radical killing means at the time were all promptly applied to mutual slaughter, and finally wars came into being with its scale constantly being expanded. Terrorist attacks were also closely linked to human society. This clearly shows us that human rationality can not bring its mutual massacre under control, and the creativity makes it even multiply more harshly and enlarge to a greater extent.
The imbalanced evolution brought disasters to mankind, especially terrifying and huge. Since the industrial revolution when various technical means emerged endlessly as the killing means appearing more and more, guns, artillery, warships, submarines, aircrafts, etc., the killing capacity of the mankind has continued to be strengthened. Nuclear weapons and GMO toxins were developed. A big city can be completely ruined using one of them only once. The human rationality has not been evidently evolved, for we can still not control the dog-eat-dog behavior, the means much more powerful than the past ones that were also used in wars and terrorist attacks immediately after invention. Thus, new wars and terrorist attacks backed up by new killing means are, of course, much more brutal and frightening.
Therefore, although the competition between any type of creature is threatening the existence of its own, the level of self-threatening brought by intra-species competition of mankind has been upgraded by hundreds of millions of times due to the imbalanced evolution.
The stronger effect of unbalanced evolution on self-threatening reflects on more than just wars and terrorist attacks. Today's international society pays attention to almost all the crucial problems that seem more serious than any time before. This is the result of unbalanced evolution.
Take environment problems as example. Human beings have been on Earth for tens of thousands of years. Pollution was inevitable at any time, anywhere that people lived, but the natural environment had been in relatively balanced condition until the industrial revolution. However, the situation was totally different after that. The large-scale industrial production promoted by the development of science and technology has brought on the extensive application of petroleum, natural gas, coal and other fossil fuels, which caused the harms of global warming and acid rain.
Some scientific and technological products also brought unexpected damages that are extremely harmful to the natural environment due to their uncertainty, such as Freon to ozone layer and DDT pesticide to biological diversity.
Resources have been taken since the birth of human beings. The production and consumption of resources has been basically keeping in balance until before the industrial revolution. After that, the development of science and technology contributed to a greater capacity of exploitation and application of resources. This is reflected today because nonrenewable resources are close to extinction in one hundred years. Undoubtedly, energy is in the worst situation. Petroleum has been discovered and put into production for only 100 plus years, but over half of the reserves on Earth have been consume. The same thing happened to coal and natural gas, too. When all kinds of energy on Earth that were accumulated through billions of years are devoured by us in two or three hundred years, what will our offspring count on in the future?
As a matter of fact, our increasing capacity and scale of application has made the rich reserve of renewable resources into nonrenewable. Who would be concerned about water dry-up a hundred years ago? The industrial pollution and large amounts of chemical and deleterious substances in modern agriculture and daily life have polluted and failed many water sources. The advancement of biological and medical technology and improper control on reproduction has lead the population around globe to increase by 9 times in over 200 years, creating a huge group of energy consumers. The world short of water right now, and the situation is getting more and more serious.
Thus it can be seen that mankind never tries to restrict the destruction to environment and exploitation of resources. In fact, we put ourselves in a critical situation in an extreme way, but we have not made any progress toward protection and prevention. The fast steps of human creativity have aggravated the power of endangerment and multiply upgraded the level of crisis, thus resulting in the most difficult sustainable development and subsistence.
4. Radical Harms
It is obvious that the rapid progression of human creativity in science and technology has benefited us a lot, especially in the great growth of material wealth. However, science and technology is a double-edge sword. It is profitable and at the same time harmful, with equally strong powers at both good and evil sides. Human beings still have not gotten along to control the direction of development and utility of science and technology. Their creativity is increasing at very fast speeds symbolized by the industrial revolution. Our creativity has been experiencing a sudden overturn that has not only pushed science and technology to new heights time and time again, but increased in the way of fission acceleration that formed blast circumstances. But human rationality has still been asleep. The extreme dangers brought by the unbalanced evolution to human beings, in fact, depends on the final destructive effects of science and technology.
From the radical danger of today's science and technology, a bomb can pull down a big city with millions of people, and bio-toxins from modified genetic technology has even greater power than nuclear weapons. Like the indiscreet use of Freon as a scientific and technological product cause damages in ozone layer, in the unified destructive action under a global context, it will be hard for the ozone holes to be fixed in a hundred years. The real threshold of science and technology was from the industrial revolution over 200 years ago, and it is still developing at a faster speed. The effect of every breakthrough in major fields can be enhanced by millions, even billions of times, just like the application of electricity in communication multiplied the transmission speed of human information by hundreds of millions of times. The computer improved the calculation speed of the brain by tens of millions of times, and the nuclear weapons and GMO toxins raised human capacity of self-destruction by nearly tens of millions of times. It can be asserted that science and technology will ultimately lead to the extinction of mankind in the near future (the profound and comprehensive elaboration of the related content is given in On the Extinction of Mankind.)
The facts told us that if human rationality can still not reasonably curb the pace of science and technology and the proper utility of its achievements, the danger of extinction confronts mankind is not far way. This is the real extreme danger resulting from imbalanced evolution, because there is no disaster worse than the extinction disaster of mankind.
When talking about the truth of science and technology as a double-edged sword, people often elaborate this issue in reverse, and speak of the invention of gunpowder increasing the efficiency of killing. People tended to stress its utility in slope excavation, bridge-building and road-paving. When speaking of the harm by aircrafts and vehicles used in wars, people would place emphasis on the great convenience for travel and transportation. When discussing the damage and devilishness of biological toxins, people would highlight its utility in medical and agricultural production. Even when talking about the great harm the nuclear weapons, people still make much of its important significance to human development. In that case, even if all these conditions could be incorporated into a balanced and equivalent equation, the increased development of science and technology will not only bring about enormous wealth and joy in the future, but also push mankind nearer to extinction. Is this equation tenable?
It must be emphasized that the positive role of science and technology to human beings cannot be denied. With its development and application, our overall existence and happiness would be an arduous problem. According to the deep and all around analysis, and with extensive and full-scale promotion to the whole world, current safe and mature science and technology achievements are enough to guarantee the well-being of all humanity. But global society is marching on regardless of the consequences that human beings may die out altogether, and it is obvious which is more critical. The imbalance of evolution has always been with benefits and loss, but we remain unawakened. The extinction sword will befall us, and everything we have gotten from science and technology will return to zero, along with the doom of mankind. This is the real point of my research of thirty years, and the fundamental conclusion in On the Extinction of Mankind.