The Internet is Already Altering Human Evolution

| Particle Debris

As Internet technologies rapidly morph and develop, the human interaction with the Internet has to change as well. At first, that means the adoption of certain technologies. In the early days, it was browsers and email, then personal habits and work strategies, then apps and tablets, and then, perhaps, intelligent agents to help us leverage or interaction with all the software thrown at us. It's already happening.

We can no longer cling to old human habits if we live on the Internet. Habits and tools have to change. Each new development, apps, mobile payments, location services and social networks, bring their own set of challenges on how to interact.

Just as companies like Google and Apple bring to us new services, we also have to adopt new tools to help us deal with them. Holding back isn't an option. Now, more than ever, the tools we select and the activities we engage in will not only determine our success, but also end up affecting our children, indeed the course of human evolution. An easy example is Google maps. People who exploit a satellite network, a terrestrial network of wireless and smartphones seldom get lost. Does that make them smarter than the previous generation? Of course it does -- if judged solely by an external observation of behavior.

For more, see the section below, at the end of this week's news debris; "In Search of..."

Tech News Debris

Is it possible that our technologies are changing so fast that even Apple can't keep up? And that Microsoft is doomed? The next few entries explore that theme.

Dan Lyons, at ReadWrite.com has some interesting observations about the current state of Android. Here's a taste: "In Silicon Valley the conventional wisdom still seems to be that the only people who use Android phones are people who are too cheap or too poor to buy an iPhone. There's a myth in the Valley that Android phones are bargain basement devices, and that people who use them aren't very tech savvy and don't really do anything with them. It's all pure FUD."

From what I saw, using Android 4.1 on a Google Nexus 10, I can confirm that is is indeed a nice, different but nice, mobile OS. Here are Mr. Lyons' thoughts on how "Android Now 'Outshines iOS In Almost Every Aspect'."

Given that Apple has its work cut out for it with iOS, Steve Ranger at ZDNet had some intriguing thoughts as well: "iPhone and innovation: Is hardware the only place Apple can go to keep up the buzz?"

With all that, it's fun and instructive to go back and see how Apple launched the iPhone. "How Apple Sold the iPhone, 6 Years Ago Today." Apple was light years out in front back then, so it's sobering to see how the rest of the industry has caught up. Part of that may be just sheer money to spend. And here's something even scarier: the Chinese Grey Market in cheap Android tablets. Whether that will help or hurt Apple in the long run is, in my mind, open to debate.

We all know that Microsoft has been having its share of problems with the Surface and Windows 8. This next article has a cheesy title, but contains some good observations about the state of the company. "7 Predictions for Microsoft in 2013." In fact, "Is Microsoft Geting Desperate?"

Perhaps if Microsoft tries to fool itself and believes it's own hype, things will get better. "Oh, come on, Microsoft: 60 million copies of Windows 8?" But wait. There's more. The iPhone, all by itself, is chewing up Microsoft. "Apple's Complete Domination Over Windows In Three Charts."

Microsoft thought it had the luxury (fooling itself again) to wait and do a tablet right -- for the rest of the century. There's plenty of time, they thought. However, it looks like the company is paying the price now for waiting three years to get into the tablet business. "Sorry Microsoft, I am breaking up with the Surface."

I'll end the Microsoft stuff with John Kirk's very good summary article on how the Microsoft monopoly may be burning. Mr. Kirk always has good stuff, and I recommend this one highly. "Where’s The Windows 8 “Buzz”?"

Let's face it. People are social animals, and they often like to get out and shop. But the conventional wisdom is that brick and mortar bookstores are dead -- at least as promoted by people who have an interest in having customers believe that. But wait... maybe there's hope."Books Coming Back to Bricks?"

There may come a time when the mobile payments system and identity management systems start to collide. Here's a good piece by Galen Gruman on "The dangers of a single identity."

Some have suggested (including me) that Apple will come out with its own HDTV someday. And, in Apple style, it would be a 4K TV. But as observers have noted, "Why 4K UHD Television is nothing but a CES wet dream." But, hey, the TV makers have to have something to crow about, now that home 3D is dead.

Thank goodness.

Perhaps the real sleeper technology, one that will be of more practical use, is the consumerization of OLED technology for HDTVs. "Feast Your Eyes on the Epic Panasonic 4K OLED TV."

And if you feel you're not quite up to speed on UHD, 4K, and OLED, here's a very readable and charming introduction to it all by Lauren Goode. "Talking TVs With an Imaginary Consumer at CES."

In Search of...

What's the next step in search engines? Google's Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil is building your "Cybernetic Friend." Think of it as an intelligent companion.

Do you get the feeling that once a certain level of technology is reached, it bootstraps itself so fast that we, in turn, need our own tools to help us keep up? Otherwise, one is in for this kind of experience.

To that end, it may be that we need to focus on tools that help us, in turn, adapt to all that change - even if those tools turn out to be intelligent entities, an idea proposed by David Brin. (Novel, shown left.) In the near term, however, Tom Goetz suggests, by virtue of the article he references, that we're already 20 IQ points up on our parents just from the app tools we select. "Are we Artificially Intelligent?"

It may be that by selecting a certain subset of activities and tools, one is better situated to keep up with, indeed, exploit current technology and achieve success. For some additional inspiration, on the side, for this half-baked idea, see "Indistinguishable from Magic" by Jason Snell.

Finally, this may not seem related, but it is because it represents a sea change in our evolution -- as we pass behavior on to kids. Have you often thought about how to handle potential problems posed by an iPhone in the hands of your kids? This mom set out a very formal and reasonable set of standard for her kid. It's inspiring reading. "Mom's iPhone code of conduct for son goes viral."

How's that for a week of dramatic change?

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2 Comments

iJack

I see.  So, “The Internet is Already Altering Human Evolution” isn’t actually true, but just an attention-grabber.  No need, John.  This is TMO, not the NY Post.

Human evolution takes hundreds, if not thousands of years.  The Internet will evolve into something unrecognizable and unthought of before that happens.

Lee Dronick

Great graphic John, I like how the telephones evolved.

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