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Thread: When and If We Go Extinct.....

  1. #1 When and If We Go Extinct..... 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Will something akin to human intelligence make a comeback given enough time or will Mother Nature discard it for good?

    Intelligence could be our downfall. Is intelligence the ultimate goal of evolution? Why not an immortal or indestructable lifeform?

    Most scientists might agree that man is the most intelligent creature to have ever evolved on Earth, but on a universal scale we could be a bottom feeder. Our brand of intelligence seems bent on self destruction so I was wondering if our little branch on the evoltionary tree is some day just going to die and intelligence as we know it never again appears on Earth.

    Will nature reattempt intelligence once it has failed the first time? Will it be either eliminated or improved upon as an integral part of a living thing? Nature seems to have a way for eventually giving up on something that doesn't work.


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  3. #2 Re: When and If We Go Extinct..... 
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Will something akin to human intelligence make a comeback given enough time or will Mother Nature discard it for good?

    Intelligence could be our downfall. Is intelligence the ultimate goal of evolution? Why not an immortal or indestructable lifeform?

    Most scientists might agree that man is the most intelligent creature to have ever evolved on Earth, but on a universal scale we could be a bottom feeder. Our brand of intelligence seems bent on self destruction so I was wondering if our little branch on the evoltionary tree is some day just going to die and intelligence as we know it never again appears on Earth.

    Will nature reattempt intelligence once it has failed the first time? Will it be either eliminated or improved upon as an integral part of a living thing? Nature seems to have a way for eventually giving up on something that doesn't work.
    aaah... Nature is the intelligence and we are nature. Why not an immortal life form? Ha, Look in your biology books and try to find a point in time where life has died. We are immortal as far as we know. A cell doesn't die before becoming a sperm or egg cell. We live forever.


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    will Mother Nature discard it for good... Will nature reattempt intelligence
    You appear to think of nature as an intelligent being... along the lines of so-called intelligent design. If that's the case... well, the future is up to her. You may have to go and ask her.

    From my point of view, intelligence (what's actually more important is self-awareness) is a result of evolution. Given enough time and the right conditions, I don't see a reason that would exclude the possibility of intelligent self-awareness emerging in a different species. It's easy to speculate.
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    Another aspect to think about is whether humans are able to become a space faring lifeform (colonizing planets in our or neighboring systems) before a catastrophy/change eliminates us from earth or not. If we colonize other planets our lease on life will be considerably extended and chances are that we may spawn alternate forms of ourselves(in which case homo sapiens could vanish but have grown into different species) or spawn completly different types of organism or self-aware civilization(inorganic/robotic)

    And for all we know, there might be thousands of intelligent life forms scattered across the billions of galaxies in our universe, if any of those become spacefarers in their own region intelligent life also gets a longer lease on existance.

    On the other hand, if you restrict yourself to earth, if we get eliminated soon enough other human-equivalent intelligent species might eventually come around imo(squids?), but theres an eventual time limit because if we stagnate(dont become starfarers) on earth and get extinct right before or by the expansion of the sun it will be a lot harder for complex lifeforms to develop in that environment (and earth continental surface will probably be deserts before this without terraforming anyway and I dont know how many millions of years the earth will continue to generate its magetosphere shield).

    I also think we tend to overestimate our own 'human' intelligence. Most of what we consider the fruit of human intelligence is in fact the fruit of transmitted knowledge, we are not that much more intelligent than cavemen. Put human infants on a lost continent have them adopted by chimps to survive and they would require many generations to reach the sofistication of neolithic cavemen. Its only the small edge in intelligence that we have that stretch over a long time starts to make a big difference that cummulates and grows. :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by icewendigo
    Another aspect to think about is whether humans are able to become a space faring lifeform (colonizing planets in our or neighboring systems) before a catastrophy/change eliminates us from earth or not.
    I think that's unlikely at this point. We already have knowledge and weapons capable of extincting us if we chose to do so and humanity is not exactly united. It's probably only a matter of time before the next 9/11 isn't an airplane, it's a nuclear bomb. What happens then? The measures countries will feel they have to take to protect themselves will escalate, tensions will rise even more, and so on. I could probably be convinced otherwise but at this point destroying ourselves doesn't seem unlikely to me.

    If we colonize other planets our lease on life will be considerably extended and chances are that we may spawn alternate forms of ourselves(in which case homo sapiens could vanish but have grown into different species) or spawn completly different types of organism or self-aware civilization(inorganic/robotic)
    We are really, really far away from being able to create self-sustaining colonies. We have to avoid destroying ourselves, running out of oil with no alternative, asteroid impacts, supervolcanoes, and whatever else first.
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    It would be hard to say. Depends upon the interaction of phenotypic characteristics with ever changing conditions, and the reproductive success.
    Intelligence itself is a continium of sorts. It comes in different "shapes" so to speak. There are many animals that exhibit aspects of intelligence. Some more than others.
    Some Cuttlefish, and the Octopus, Crows, Ravens, and a few types of Parrot, for example.
    Then there relatives of ours, the other apes.
    Then there are the small "club" of creatures that to our testing, exhibit "self awareness". So far, it includes:
    Us, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorrillas, Orangutangs, Elephants, Bottle Nosed Dolphins.
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    tbh, intelligence is vastly overrated (presumably because we have it and in our conceit think that makes us top of the pile) : millions of organisms get by without it fine

    take away the mammals and birds from your list and there's not much left

    in summary i'd say redevelopment of intelligence is quite possible but nowhere near guaranteed
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    surely if it wasnt such an advantage we wouldnt have made it this far
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    It's a tremendous advantage. But it comes at a high price and most animals don't have it simply because they don't need it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neutrino
    It's a tremendous advantage. But it comes at a high price and most animals don't have it simply because they don't need it.
    i seem to remember that the brain typically uses 20% of your energy needs - it's a bit like warm-bloodedness : nice to have but expensive
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Humans "Came from" other species.

    What will "Come from" us?

    Why is it so commonly expected that humans will simply become extinct without leading to another animal type? I'm not saying neccicarily better, but certainly different.

    At the way the world is going with technology though it seems that humans are ending the period where some of our populations were isolated (genetically and literally). so a Divergent species is unlikley. It seems that the Human Species as a whole may move on but who knows, perhaps our modern living has finished standard natural selection. Or has it? In the western world, Genes with an advantage in Food Shortage have gone from favoured (can stay alive on a morsel a week) to disfavoured (become fat due to too much food, die early / unfavourable for sex).

    Humans arn't removing natural selection as much as changing the environment to select different attributes more favourably. The effect of this from an evolutionary standpoint I, and I doubt anyone else, cannot think of either a predicessor to this happening, nor can one project a possible expected long-term effect.

    If intelligence does arise again it will most likley be from a predator species with limited physical characteristics. We are a great example of this. Humans like to eat meat, so hunt... however most other things in the wild run faster, attack harder, and are stronger and tougher than us. We used intelligence to use things like tools and tactics to our advantage, whereas the Cheetah just ran as fast as it could and killed things with it's teeth. Humans spent hours making throwable weapons and then snuck around and threw things at their intended dinner... (or predators or enemys).

    Apparently the skill set for paitence, forethought, long-term preperation and cunning are also usefull for making computers, airplanes, houses and space craft.
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    The question isn't about intelligence or nature. The question is about what is it exatly that separates the two.

    Take for example the computer monitor that you are staring into this very moment. A product of technology right? - Right. And technology is a product of intelligence right? - Right.

    But would you consider the computer monitor to be "Natural"? If not, then why? If technology is not a product of nature.....then why is it happening?
    We have to consider the possibility that all technology, from every satilite orbiting the planet down to the ipod thats cliped to your belt, is just one more step in the evolutionary process.

    It makes one wonder as to what our significance is in the grand scheme of things. Assuming there is a grand scheme. So if the human race does pass on the torch of intellingence I question how our technology will play a part in that.

    If the human species is wiped out - what kind of residual will be left in our wake.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    Take for example the computer monitor that you are staring into this very moment. A product of technology right? - Right. And technology is a product of intelligence right? - Right.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kolt
    But would you consider the computer monitor to be "Natural"? If not, then why? If technology is not a product of nature.....then why is it happening?
    Physics: [15th century. Formed from physic ; translation of Latin physica (plural), from Greek phusika , plural of phusikos “of nature,” from phusis “nature,” from phuein “to make grow.”]
    Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2004. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


    We use physics as a basis of all science branches to study nature and we use mathematics to explain it. We then use these mathematics to distort nature in our own image, creating things such as the computer monitor.

    Is the monitor a product of nature? It must be!...
    Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
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    I was wondering whether it is our own intelligence and perhaps the absence of sufficient wisdom that would lead to our final destruction. I was thinking maybe that all the technological advancements, which are essentially, a result of our intelligence, would actually cause a decrease in our intelligence.
    The general pattern in our seeking of advancing technologically, is to make life easier, and we are rapidly progressing towards the ultimate goal of having an easy life. But as life becomes easier, our need of intelligence would decrease, and we would probably evolve to lose our intelligence since then it would only be an unneeded waste of energy.
    Innovations are children of necessity, but when all necessitiy is eliminated, there would be no need for innovation.

    I think manifestations of the aforementioned idea are already beginning to appear. i've realised (though this of course is a vague realistaion, rather than an accurate statistical survey), that children of this generation aren't as intelligent as their parents were. Many kids have their computers and ipods, and are just happy with that. They don't see a need to make any change, and hence do not have a use for their intelligence.
    There are still problems, however, such as various yet uncurable diseases facing humanity, and challenging our intelligence. But what when we solve all our problems? What when life becomes the easiest and the best it can become? I think this would be an inevitable turning point in the course of existence of the human race.

    All this of course, provided that we're not wiped out from the face of the earth before that lengthy process due to some natural disaster ( i.e global warming) or due to war. Although I doubt that global warming would have that much of a substantial change on the human race, as much as i doubt that it is a result of our intelligence (or rather intelligence with a lack of wisdom). Afterall, the human race has previously survived much worse global climatic changes.

    This topic brings to mind the old science-fiction story by H.G. wells, "The time machine", where a time traveller goes to the future expecting smarter people, but he only finds that the mental and physical capabilities of the human race have diminished as a result of achieving the goal of an easy life. I wonder if any of you have read it?
    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, however, there is.
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    This reminds ME of the movie "Idiocracy:" same idea, only with more pop. brand references. It's quite hilarious, yet terrifying of how probable their scenario seems at times..

    PS: humans create problems at a much faster rate than we solve them. It's highly unlikely that we'll ever reach your proposed "ultimate goal of having an easy life" (is it your personal goal, btw??)
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientist-to-be
    This topic brings to mind the old science-fiction story by H.G. wells, "The time machine", where a time traveller goes to the future expecting smarter people, but he only finds that the mental and physical capabilities of the human race have diminished as a result of achieving the goal of an easy life. I wonder if any of you have read it?
    I have read it, and I think you're misinterpreting the story a little bit. The time traveller finds two subspecies of human - one, happy and cute, but stupid. Another - ugly and cavedwelling, but intelligent, that use the happy and cute ones as herd animals for food. It's not 100% unreasonable - herbivorous prey animals usually aren't that intelligent, as it doesn't take much brain power to find grass. But predators tend to be more intelligent, as they have to figure ways to hunt down other animals.

    Octavia Butler wrote a science fiction series featuring an alien race with an ability to concisely "read" DNA, and understand the traits it coded for. In these books, that alien race believed humans were destined to eventually destroy themselves, and two key characteristics lead them to this conclusion: humans are both intelligent, and hierarchical. Thus we will bend our intelligence towards finding ways to achieve dominance over one another, until we destroy one another.

    I think this is true in some ways. We are a highly social species, and in social species, rank is what's important when it comes to reproductive success. The social environment is also one of the most complex, and highly social animals tend to be more intelligent. Modern humans today may aver that we are above these base impulses, but I think they may influence us more than we'd like to admit. It's very basic to our nature. So I don't think we'll necessarily become stupider just because we've overcome problems like finding food and being safe from the elements. There's still the social aspect of reproductive success that continues today.

    *shrugs* Just my thoughts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paralith
    Quote Originally Posted by scientist-to-be
    This topic brings to mind the old science-fiction story by H.G. wells, "The time machine", where a time traveller goes to the future expecting smarter people, but he only finds that the mental and physical capabilities of the human race have diminished as a result of achieving the goal of an easy life. I wonder if any of you have read it?
    I have read it, and I think you're misinterpreting the story a little bit. The time traveller finds two subspecies of human - one, happy and cute, but stupid. Another - ugly and cavedwelling, but intelligent, that use the happy and cute ones as herd animals for food. It's not 100% unreasonable - herbivorous prey animals usually aren't that intelligent, as it doesn't take much brain power to find grass. But predators tend to be more intelligent, as they have to figure ways to hunt down other animals.

    Octavia Butler wrote a science fiction series featuring an alien race with an ability to concisely "read" DNA, and understand the traits it coded for. In these books, that alien race believed humans were destined to eventually destroy themselves, and two key characteristics lead them to this conclusion: humans are both intelligent, and hierarchical. Thus we will bend our intelligence towards finding ways to achieve dominance over one another, until we destroy one another.

    I think this is true in some ways. We are a highly social species, and in social species, rank is what's important when it comes to reproductive success. The social environment is also one of the most complex, and highly social animals tend to be more intelligent. Modern humans today may aver that we are above these base impulses, but I think they may influence us more than we'd like to admit. It's very basic to our nature. So I don't think we'll necessarily become stupider just because we've overcome problems like finding food and being safe from the elements. There's still the social aspect of reproductive success that continues today.

    *shrugs* Just my thoughts.
    I agree with you about the significance of social aspects in reproductive success. Inter-class marriages are still frowned upon, up to this day. In addition, the rich are getting richer, and the poor, poorer, hence causing the middle class to diminish as well as widening the gap between the upper and the lower classes. Wells speculated that the gap would continue to widen until two completely different subspecies are created (i.e the Eloi and the Morlock). The Eloi lost their intelligence, because they were happy, didn't have much problems, and herbivorous, whereas the morlock, who were the lower social class retained their intelligence because they had to serve the Eloi. In the end, the intelligent subspecies would obviously dominate.
    I understand the influence of social aspects on humans, what I don't understand, however, why you think that this will have anything to do with keeping or losing our intelligence. Can you please explain.

    Finally, I think that it is impossible to predict the future of the human race. Humans are not as predictable as they may seem. That's the difference between us and the other species - that we have a choice. We have the ability to determine our future unlike the other species. For example, we can completely eliminate the problems that would arise from social hierarchy by becoming communists...etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by wombat
    PS: humans create problems at a much faster rate than we solve them. It's highly unlikely that we'll ever reach your proposed "ultimate goal of having an easy life" (is it your personal goal, btw??)
    That's probably true, " the ultimate goal of an easy life" is a hypothetical goal, that we will probably never reach, in my opinion, but that doesn't undermine the fact that we are constantly working towards it, even if we don't realise it.
    No, its not my personal goal, but many people believe that they are serving humanity by making life easier (e.g inventors, researchers...etc.).
    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, however, there is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientist-to-be
    I was wondering whether it is our own intelligence and perhaps the absence of sufficient wisdom that would lead to our final destruction. I was thinking maybe that all the technological advancements, which are essentially, a result of our intelligence, would actually cause a decrease in our intelligence.
    The general pattern in our seeking of advancing technologically, is to make life easier, and we are rapidly progressing towards the ultimate goal of having an easy life. But as life becomes easier, our need of intelligence would decrease, and we would probably evolve to lose our intelligence since then it would only be an unneeded waste of energy.
    Innovations are children of necessity, but when all necessitiy is eliminated, there would be no need for innovation.
    Ha, the goal of an easy life. 'Tis sad. Yes I agree many people have forgoten who and what they are but the ultimate goal is no easy life. I used to ride mountain bikes all my life and recently decided to get a street bike because of how busy i am. It is no easier to ride, the only difference is: I go faster.

    Those who try to make life easy are just wasting their time. I once heard a saying that "boredom makes everything worthless" (and I agree with it). I would say you are closer to the point when speaking of a lack of wisdom. Anyone with a stitch of wisdom should know that pain is merely a meter to show you how far you can go in your current state ("pain" being a metaphorical term).

    Bah, I could rant about this for hours...
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientist-to-be
    Finally, I think that it is impossible to predict the future of the human race. Humans are not as predictable as they may seem. That's the difference between us and the other species - that we have a choice. We have the ability to determine our future unlike the other species. For example, we can completely eliminate the problems that would arise from social hierarchy by becoming communists...etc.
    I'm not saying that I think we can predict the future of the human race - I should probagly have made that more clear. I was just describing a science fiction book, and how I think there may be a little granule of truth at its basis - mostly the importance of intelligence and hierarchical social structure in human nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by scientist-to-be
    I understand the influence of social aspects on humans, what I don't understand, however, why you think that this will have anything to do with keeping or losing our intelligence. Can you please explain.
    A lot of people here are saying that once life is made "easy" by technology, and that having intelligence no longer gives you a significant advantage over the next guy, that we will start to lose our intelligence, because it is a large energy investment that will no longer be necessary. I'm saying that just because life is "easy" - no disease, no danger from natural disasters, etc - doesn't mean that there will be no challenges in our lives in which having intelligence gives us an advantage. The social environment is a complex one, and one that is most certainly not removed by technology. In this complex environment it will continue to be advantageous to have intelligence of some kind - in order to find ways to reach higher levels in the hierarchy, to "dominate" one another. This can go from high levels (countries trying to rule one another) to low levels (students competeing with each other for the best grade in the class - or maybe to be the most popular kid in school). This social aspect of who is higher and who is lower is a basic part of our natures, and probably drives more of our behaviors than we realize.

    Though I suppose that is debatable, considering the lay theory that stupid people reproduce more than smart people. But I would say even among "stupid" people (at the risk of being non-politically correct, here), there are social complexities going on, unlike that which is present for most animals. There is still something that makes some people more desirable mates than others, and there will still be competition for who is the most desirable.

    Natural selection isn't the only selective force, after all. Sexual selection can, in some cases, be even more powerful.
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    Imo, life tends to go from less to more complex, especially with regard to intelligence. So I think if we were to go extinct, the animal who's closest to us in intelligence/brain (that is, the animal with the most association areas) will eventually become the next 'human' generation.
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

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    Quote Originally Posted by M
    You appear to think of nature as an intelligent being... along the lines of so-called intelligent design. If that's the case... well, the future is up to her. You may have to go and ask her.
    I appear to think the same. I have no reason to think, nature is conscious, let alone self conscious. If you take life on earth as one piece, it adapts, it collects experience and reuses it, hell it even creates ways to improve its own intelligence (sex, nervous system, human intelligence). I would call it intelligent design (in a way).
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    Here's my two cents on the subject...

    One thing that is certain is that homo sapien sapiens (which is what we currently are) as a species isn't going to last forever. We as a species will either go extinct, or evolve into something else. How long that is going to take is another question all together.

    Genetically, there has been no significant change in the human species for the past ten thousand years. I did watch a show on Discovery, though, that talked about evolution of the human brain, and about ten thousand years ago there was a variation that mutated which, if people had the right set of genes, would make the brain slightly bigger. Not everybody has this gene (yet), but it shows that humans are still evolving.

    But now that we completely mapped out the human genome, I'm pretty sure that we would be able to evolve ourselves much faster than can occur naturally. Humans several centuries from now would bear little resemblance to modern day humans both genetically and maybe even physiologically.

    Also, we are very close to being able to develop strong AI, that is, Artificial Intelligence that has the capabilities of the human brain. Computers are "evolving" more than 10 million times faster than biological evolution, and it is predicted that as early as 2030 we would have AI that would be more intelligent and have abilities that exceeds both the mental and physical capabilities of humans. Also, there are branches of research that aim to interface the human with computers and that would lead to a different kind of intelligence all together.

    But this raises an important question: if we are able to create, or if there exists an intelligence that exceeds our own, how can we claim to be intelligent? Do we only just think that we are intelligent?

    As for natural causes of our extinction, I think at this point it is very, very unlikely. What most people don't understand is that humans can survive biologically where our modern civilization can't. There are things that can wipe our civilization out ranging from self destruction to natural causes such as asteroid impacts, super-volcanoes, disease, etc... but humans as a species could probably survive, and it is very likely that most of our accumulated knowledge would as well (Our technology and huge population would give us an enormous buffer against an asteroid at this day and age). After all, civilizations have collapsed several times before, such as Romans (they self-destructed) and Mayans (Believed to be by natural causes like drought), for example. It is not that uncommon or unusual for a civilization to collapse, and one can argue that it is inevitable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corona
    But now that we completely mapped out the human genome, I'm pretty sure that we would be able to evolve ourselves much faster than can occur naturally. Humans several centuries from now would bear little resemblance to modern day humans both genetically and maybe even physiologically.
    Well maybe after developing sex, nervous system, human inteligence, maybe the the next step in evolution working on itself is designed mutation or selfreproducing inteligence (sorry for the corny names).
    I will rather not think about the consequences, since they may make our "fast paced" today look like the dark ages and I don't think that I can guess what it'll be like.
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    Quote Originally Posted by n300
    Well maybe after developing sex, nervous system, human inteligence, maybe the the next step in evolution working on itself is designed mutation or selfreproducing inteligence (sorry for the corny names).
    I'm not quite sure what you mean by "designed mutation" and "selfreproducing intelligence." Do you mean something like organisms choosing how they evolve? With the right technology, it's certainly possible in the future of humans. Also, evolution does not "work on itself." Evolution isn't an entity with a goal or direction. It's a phenomenon of changing populations, usually as a result of natural selection - those animals best suited to the environment reproduce more than those who don't, and after time their genes dominate the population. It's simply a matter of what works, not what evolution is "trying" to do.
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    I know that it isn't a conscious effort and that evolution is no entity, it was but a personification . However methods to use genetic information more efficiently (like sex). With the introduction of sexual reproduction a positive trait in an organism could be combined with others. After that evolution could work with combinations rather than just with mutations, which essentially means it improved on itself.
    The other improvements like neural system vere ina different direction, but if a conscious alteration of the human gene is introduced, it will be the third step in the row (mutation >> mutation+combination >> mutation+combination+design).
    ( again I am just personifying evolution to simplify the sentences )
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