The human mind is positively fascinating. With all the factors evolving into place in which humans were able to develop grammatical speech, writing, science and art. In the absence of advanced electronic technology, whole books were once committed to memory as a side effect of the pursuit of entertainment. Of course even today some people still possess the ability to memorize books or numerous songs as a musician and so on. But the distraction of endless stimulation via television, the web, or work has largely rendered this once fairly common trait (at least among those literate peoples of previous ages) extinct. Then there are those more technologically oriented, the cyborgs.
For these people, the tendency is not to fill their mind with the information itself. Rather, they store the information in electronic memory and commit to biological memory the use and pathways of the symbolic interface. For example, a person who writes their schedule on a calendar. However, that’s a relatively low piece of technology. Ancient in fact. How about bookmarking web pages for future access?
Doesn’t it seem as though just within the last few generations, the expectations of what a contemporary person should be able to do is becoming more and more centered around being able to operate various technological devices?
Of course, we’re in a transitional phase of human evolution. Let’s look at this through a memetical lens. A review of human history will have us looking back to when some apes decided to leave the trees and go to ground. These apes began standing on two legs in order to see over the grass for predators. Then for the species that ultimately harnassed fire and it’s obvious benefits, they took a wide turn on the evolutionary path towards humanity.
Cooking food makes it easier to chew, rendering the massive jaw muscles of our distant ancestors unnecessary. As those muscles atrophied, and our ancestors diet became more saturated with fats and cholesterol, the body allocated that building material for the brain. As humans transitioned from scavengers to foraging, the brain becomes nourished in quality nutrients, and less time is needed for seeking out and consuming food. Free time, leads to frivolous curiosity, and curiosity with a propensity to play leads to culture. And culture evolves, bound by biology (which is where I contrast sharply with current memetic theory); but the leash is not at a fixed length necessarily.
More to come…