Cyclic improved adaptation to an environment is essential to survival in that environment when an individual competing against others with the ability to improve their performance. Previously — on Probaway, Human progress is accelerating rapidly! which concludes with, Life is better when you participate to the fullest. but the question then becomes, what is best to be attended to and participated in.
Before an individual human woman discovered the habit of artificial selection of mates (by verbal comparisons among her female friends) human improvements were mostly genetic improvements and they were very slow to accumulate but with these women’s directive verbal control of our genetic code we were in a positive feedback cycle and improved rapidly in those qualities which women value and we became what we are today. That ability of artificial selection has recently been applied consciously to crops and animals starting about 1750 with the advent of contests at county fairs and those living things became much more rapidly adapted to human needs.
Adam Smith applied that general concept to his economic theories in 1776 about how humans interact in an open market place and thus which businesses were to prevail and soon Scottish businessmen such as Andrew Carnegie applied Smith’s ideas and became fabulously wealthy. Charles Darwin after some education at Edinburgh university applied Smith’s ideas of exclusion and Thomas Malthus population geometric growth problem and Lyell’s principles of geology which combined method for improvements with the time for them to cycle through to great adaptations. Darwin was helped greatly by Alfred Russel Wallace guiding him with his theory.
The ability to adapt and the cycle rate at which adaptation can take place. When applied to humans it can be questioned, how to accelerate human improvements. It seems that first one must ask what would an improvement be when considering a particular environmental situation. There is little sense for a person living in the tropics spending much thought and energy on developing the adaptations necessary for surviving in the arctic. Nor does it make sense for someone living in abject poverty to develop a refined taste in the purchasing expensive antique cars. We need to develop the talents for adapting to the situation in which we find ourselves and being human with the ability of forethought, those situations in which we may soon find ourselves immersed.
Humans have many situations to which they have adapted that are clearly beyond their animal ability. Humans have been living continuously is outer space for a decade and underwater for a century and deep underground for millenia and even on the operating table without a heart beat for an hour and perhaps that long without brain waves when quite cold. Using a broad definition of human activity they have been active on Mars with the rovers for years; moving about, seeing, sensing temperature and radiations, doing chemical tests, obtaining energy for self power from the environment and behaving responsivly to the environment when problems are anticipated. They are almost alive, except for the ability to reproduce and because they can’t reproduce they can never improve their performance beyond that latent within their present embodiment. However, with human intervention back home they can be improved with a better adaptation to their Martian environment derived from experience. So, in a very limited sense, our Martian robots are alive.
Humans can reproduce and have improved their genetic adaptation to a wide-set of physical environments. However, they also have the power to improve their habitual behavior and they can do that even without being exposed to specific stimuli, which all other living creatures require before adaptation can even begin to take place. People can predict the future and plan for it and even train their children in schools to prepare for a future which no one can foretell. They are given generalized tools for coping with unknown future problems. Probably what pays off economically for their children is not learned in school but are habits unconsciously copied from their parents and their peers who are offspring of their parents social peers.
The way to accelerate personal improvement is to identify the environment into which you will projecting your self and then study and copy the habits of the most successful people in that environment. With that as a simple but general guiding principle you are at least oriented in the right direction. A second general rule would be to cultivate habits which are the next step up the maturity chart from where you presently are comfortable, see, A Maturity Quotient MQ-test to replace IQ-tests. The 1995 Probaway called Paths – to human maturity are charted from infancy to adulthood and on to sagehood, does offer a clear structure and gives ways for identifying levels of maturity from observed and measurable behavior. The Probaway – Habits list might be reviewed as potential things to do for a new environment. Probably you can design a more focused set of new habits for the new environment which you will be entering and develop some mental and physical excersizes which will greatly improve your adaptation. The next thing to consider is to cycle through your improvement schedual as often as possible and make observations as to what works best and do more of that.
Observe your improvements and then improve on them.