Something else that I read about yesterday was an article written by David Quammen, [Contagious cancer: The evolution of a killer via Harper’s Magazine], which really got me thinking. It brought up some dormant thoughts that I used to toss around about Darwinism and the effect that our civilization has had on this process. Evolution is a funny thing; what I find particularly ponder-worthy revolves around the two basic elements necessary for the process that Darwin laid out: genetic diversity among the individuals of a population and competition among those individuals for limited resources. With these elements present, the door is left open for natural selection, which says that the “more fit” individuals of the species will thrive, and reproduce. I have always stood by the fact that we, as humans, have stunted the process of evolution among our species while the rest of the world continues to evolve and grow. How? Allow me to explain…

There is indeed genetic diversity among humans, and there are definitely limited resources; however we have eliminated the need to compete for these resources. We as a society strive towards actually replenishing our resources, which is not in and of itself the reason that the unrelenting, cold hand of natural selection has loosened its grip on our species. Combined with the idea of helping those in need, those too sick to carry on, or those that cannot support themselves eliminates the cruel course of evolution. Do not get me wrong, I wholly support helping the human race and giving every individual the right to a long and happy life. I am not saying that helping those in need is wrong or advocating against it; I am simply saying that in doing so we have stopped the process of natural selection, thereby stunting our species’ evolution.

I was further spurred by [this blurb via H.B.O] that somehow takes the idea of a contagious cancer from the Quammen article and relates it to the Flood Infection in Halo (I told you that I am a sucker for anything related to Halo, no matter how remote). And I completely see the connection. If you read into the article you’ll learn how the Tasmanian Devil has developed a cancer that is contagious due to the tumors’ “crumbling like feta cheese”, and falling into open wounds of other devils during their apparently frequent “face biting” habits. This description reminds me of the carrier form of the Flood (pictured at right). Perhaps after a few more iterations of this form of cancer, when you knock these waddling, infected Tasmanian Devils over the tumors growing all over their faces will explode into a cloud of spores, which will undoubtedly try to find their way into your body via an open wound. Or perhaps the spores will also have evolved to no longer need an open pathway into your system, but will instead develop tiny tentacles and the ability to penetrate your skin and inject it’s mutated and offensive DNA into your own, not unlike the Flood’s infection form (pictured left). Hmm. Let’s hope that the army’s exoskeletons become more enclosed and more like the Spartan’s Mjolnir armor (with replenishing energy shield and all).

So we are not genetically evolving, but we are indeed mentally evolving. The advancements that science has made recently in the robotic world are stunning. The exoskeletons and bionic limbs that have been developed are amazing, especially when used for those that have lost the use of their legs, or even their arms. We have progressed A.I. and Voice recognition technologies by leaps and bounds. Our robots are now capable of doing almost anything imaginable, from swimming underwater like a snake, to climbing walls, to almost perfect bipedal movements, to carrying heavy loads and resisting all attempts to fall over. While the video of ASIMO running is unintentionally hilarious, that last one needs special attention; here’s Lockheed’s Mule robot in case you’ve never seen it… although a bit of advice I would suggest turning your speakers off because it makes a horrible whirring/buzzing noise that will surely be the sound heard as these robots rise up and take over the world:

Now, all that’s left to do is create a bipedal robot that has the same “can’t knock me over” attitude as the Mule, and the ability to swim underwater like the snake, then make sure to program it so that it knows how to destroy these infection forms so that none may escape. Perhaps then we’ll have a chance once we undoubtedly, as a society, allow this infectious cancer to evolve. Of course there’s always the backup plan of seven Halo constructs and a few shield worlds here and there…