Saturday , March 2 2024

Interview: Don Simborg, Author of ‘What Comes After Homo Sapiens? When and How Our Species Will Evolve into Another Species’

I recently reviewed What Comes After Homo Sapiens? When and How Our Species Will Evolve into Another Species (DWS Publishing, Sept. 5, 2017), on this site. Its author, Don Simborg, predicts that we’re not going to be alone in the future. When he dove into the wild frontier of medical and scientific research on AI and genetic engineering, he was astonished — and impressed — at what saw. We got the chance to discuss his remarkable take on evolution, and what he believes is clearly ahead for humankind.

How did you become interested in exploring how Homo sapiens could evolve?

I have been an avid reader of evolutionary biology that focuses on our history as a species. However, when it comes to projecting that history into the future, science clashes with technology. There are no experts who easily cross the many chasms of knowledge between these areas. With my background in both science and technology, I decided to take on the challenge to research bridges to those chasms.

You structure your book in the form of asking, and then refuting, what are the likely ways the next species will arise. Why did you take that approach? 

When I started my research, I didn’t know where it would lead. I considered four different possible paths to our next species and researched each of them. In that process, I came to the conclusion several of them were unlikely and that the combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and genetic engineering would likely overtake all other possibilities in our future evolution. I could have just written about that, but decided for completeness and credibility that it would be important to explain why I ruled out the others.

How do you anticipate technological advances will play a role in the transition from Homo sapiens to what you call “Homo nouveau?”

The fact genetic engineering could play a role in our future evolution is an obvious possibility that needs to be explored. What’s less obvious is the role electronic evolution might play, if any. My background in computer technology connected me to much of the literature on AI and computer-based decision-making. Curiosity led me to investigate further whether and how this might play some role in evolution, which is detailed in the book.

Do you believe that we’re opening a Pandora’s box by tampering with the human genome? 

Yes. Homo nouveau is one example.

How far into the future do you foresee Homo nouveau emerging?

My best guess is two or three centuries — a blink of an evolutionary eye.

What might this mean for our species?

That’s difficult to predict. Homo nouveau, as I envision it, is not an existential threat to Homo sapiens — at least in the early phases of their coexistence. What could happen over time, however, is that further divergence of the two species could inevitably lead to conflict. A greater threat to Homo sapiens, quite independent of Homo nouveau, is the possible emergence of an Artificial Superintelligence, which might make the question of Homo nouveau moot.

Learn more about Dr. Simborg and his new book at the author’s website.

About Patricia Gale

Patricia Gale has written and ghostwritten hundreds of blogs and articles that have appeared on sites such as Psychology Today, Forbes, and Huffington Post, and in countless national newspapers and magazines. Her "beat" is health, business, career, self-help, parenting, and relationships.

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