Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/2624
12 Fall 2009 STephen hawking: "humans have entered a new Stage of evolution" MICHAEL ANISSIMOV At a recent talk, eminent scientist Stephen Hawking said that humans are entering, "a new phase, of what might be called self designed evolution, in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA." Showing impatience with biological evolution, he said, "There is no time to wait for Darwinian evolution to make us more intelligent, and better natured." Dr. Hawking previously expressed transhumanist views in his book The Universe in a Nutshell (2001). In his talk, Hawking contrasted the speed of evolutionary and memetic progress, saying, "There has been no detectable change in human DNA, brought about by biological evolution, in the 10,000 years of recorded history. But the amount of knowledge handed on from generation to generation has grown enormously." Considering that it has taken us "several million years to evolve from the apes," and that "the useful information in our DNA, has probably changed by only a few million bits," Hawking estimates that the rate of change of biological evolution in humanity has been only about a bit per year. But the amount of knowledge passed down through written language exceeds this by many orders of magnitude. Hawking said, "The rate at which useful information can be added is millions, if not billions, higher than with DNA." At the end of his talk, Hawking said that DNA-based organisms will eventually evolve into machines, which could "eventually replace DNA-based life, just as DNA may have replaced an earlier form of life."