Evolution of the homonids

On the evolution of hominids. One species in mind is worthy of a second look. Homo erectus, arguably the most successful of all hominids, went through an evolutionary process that saw an upgrade of the species (leaving the archaic specimens extinct, paving way for the newer models).

This process, took place during the more than two million year life span of the species. During this time, they received (or rather earned) an upgrade in cranial capacity and the larger brains that this signifies, and in the process became better tool users. It took nearly a million years to place a handle on the hand axes they used. In addition homo erectus once matured in a fashion similar to apes, reaching maturity at eight.

This sort of development parallels that of humanity’s evolutionary advancement. Scientists agree that there was an upgrade in humanity’s hardware that allowed for symbolic thought. The disagreement is when this took place, some says as far as seventy thousand years ago while others place this date as recently as twenty thousand years. Whatever the date, this is the advantage that made true learning possible as complexideas could be recorded using symbols. This would first expand language and later allow for written language. This ability to code would later lead to computers.

As written language progressed, it would go through phrases. First were pictographs, pictures representing objects, people, animals, places. Fine for nouns, but verbs can be tedious and modifiers are subjective. (the perception of size, strength, good and evil are left to the interpreter). This natural imperfection would lead to individuals finding ways to standardize terminology, which leads us to the next development.

Ideography is the use of ideas based on visual depictions that are simplified. The use of ideography allows for standardization never before seen, allowing those with less artistic talent the ability to write and be understood.

Next, there is syllabary. This a dead end in human literary development as many societies skip over it, and those that used it (the Minoans and for example, died out). Not all advancements are good in the long run, if it provides an advantage in the current environment then it will survive. The question is will it be useful over time?

Finally, we have the alphabet. As sounds are formed into words, letters each with a sound that can be combined to form a word are utilized. This allows for the recording of information in a more efficient fashion. Only a couple or several dozen symbols need be memorized, once you understand their pronunciation and have grasped the concept of writing them, you can read and write any word that you can accurately pronounce ( that’s why sounding things out is so important). Now that you have this, the language can be revised and updated by anyone clever enough to do so.

While all of this may seem obvious, each of these steps represents hundreds and sometimes thousands of years of advancements. Humanity has experienced the rise and fall of many civilizations, all of whom failed to grasp the changing environment and adapt. For humans, whose vision is their primary sense, written language represents the combination of audio and visual. An event or phenomena can be experienced, transcribed and then carried to another location where those events can be heard. As our primary sense cannot be used for communication, this represents a boon for humanity’s survival.

Writing, now gives us the ability to code. We can right figures down and perform math equations that we couldn’t do in our head. When these leads to computers, this is the last in a step of progressions that leads up to now.

The question to ask is, were there biological differences between the people who advanced and those who didn’t. The answer for the past is uncertain, at least at a measurable level, but for the future it is yes (at least eventually). The same way those erectuses, who didn’t advance to larger cranium went extinct, will those of us who do not learn to use computers go extinct. The computer is the latest in a long list of inventions made possible by the symbolic thought that is the mark and birth of our species, homo sapiens sapiens.

Any thoughts and ideas. As always donations are appreciated.

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