Submitted by Aaron Arkin.
If you were to list out every species that has ever existed on Earth—from the tiniest mold spore to the largest mammal—biologists estimate that somewhere around 99 percent of those species would currently be extinct. They were, in effect, evolutionary dead ends. Considering the millions of creatures, insects, flora and fauna, still here today, suggests the sheer number of those that are no longer with us must be staggering. That idea suggests that the number of unforeseen events, methods, misguided desires, means, etc. that furthered species demise is also very large; which brings me to mankind and the present time.
Our epoch is unique in that we live in an electronic and computer age with the number of hand-held devices each year coming closer to the total number of Sapiens on Earth. It is said that people have never been so connected or as isolated, or been more depressed, lonely and anxious as now. And, as if that weren’t enough to threaten our species’ march into the future, there have also never been as many injured or killed while paying more attention to their devices than to reality. Everywhere you go people are walking, eating, driving, bicycling, skateboarding, etc., while on their devices.
There was a recent news article about a 13 year-old boy who saved 60 children on his school bus from harm by steering and safely stopping his bus when the driver experienced an acute medical event. In the investigation that followed, it was determined the reason he was the one person who took action was because all the other students on the bus were plugged (including ear-buds) into their electronic devices, and had no clue as to what was happening.
When interviewed after the incident and touted as a hero, our young man appeared less than happy at his notoriety; saying his parents were old-fashioned and would not yet let him have a smart phone. The subtext, I take it, was that on some level he would have preferred to have a smart phone (and possibly be dead or maimed) than to be singled out as the one person on the bus without one. If that’s not an example of evolutionary dead-end thinking, I don’t know what is. Still, in the historical reason-list for species demise, I do give it credit for being unique.
Will we be smart enough to re-evaluate the utility of our devices and our prospects if we don’t make changes in the way we use them? Consider the “Monkey Coconut Trap”. A Monkey Coconut Trap is created by cutting a hole in a Coconut and placing a piece of banana inside. The Monkey then puts its hand in the hole and grabs the piece of fruit. The hole is not big enough to get the monkeys fist out. All the monkey needs to do is let go of the banana, but most don’t and are trapped and caught.
Will we be smart enough to figure a way to let go of or modify the way we interact with our devices? Well, what can you expect from a bunch of primates?