This evening’s conversation with eight people devolved to one of my more bizarre hobby subjects. Does humanity as a species have a purpose toward which it is striving or is it like all the other species, just maximizing its reproductive success and thus maximizing its biological footprint on the planet? If we project ourselves into deep time, but time which the astronomers say will probably be available to Earth as a habitable planet, a million years in the future, what will have become of humanity? We as physically interbreedable creatures could probably breed successfully with our ancestors of a million years ago. We did breed successfully with Neanderthals from whom we had been separated for about half that time. That is in my 23andme genetic code and that of many other people of European ancestry. But where we will be as a species in a million years is potentially very different because of possibilities that CRISPR genetic controls offer to us. We may have progeny by then and probably far sooner that we presently would not be able to identify on casual inspection as human-derived.
That being the probability, the question posited in the title becomes more reasonable to be considered. What goal can humanity strive toward? Should we aim to preserve our humanity as we presently exist as some prime directive? Or, should we strive for some “higher goals” such as super-intelligence, or developing super-athletes of all sorts of different abilities, or perhaps human-enabled extraterrestrial beings adapted to long-term space travel so we could colonize very distant planets? All those are possible goals that our DNA could be driven toward. It might even be considered a natural outcome of human evolution to create such modifications of ourselves so that we could “self-actualize” at a much more expanded level of what it means to be human.
Or, possibly, we could consider our real goal to be a transitional species creating a whole new concept of what it means to be a living being. We as a species are approaching the ability to create silicon-based self-reproductive life forms. That is, to create non-DNA beings that can use some form of available energy to reproduce themselves. Perhaps it would involve using organic single-cell organisms to create components and then other organisms to assemble them into more fully functioning creatures. If these types of non-organic beings could be created and evolved through our technology to a state where they could reproduce themselves without our assistance out in a free condition in our world, then they could evolve through natural selection to something quite grand. That is, they could evolve into infinitely colorful grey goo.
Why would we possibly wish to do something which would supersede humans and be of a type of life that is truly immortal? Simple arrogance!
These new beings would consider us as their creators, and WE would become their Gods. Think of that, we would be as Gods for the rest of time itself.