Friday evening, travelling on a commuter train, I realized that planet Earth is inhabited by one more species than I had previously thought. I noticed that about one-third of the passengers on the train was human earthlings, in the known mode of clocking off on a hard day’s night – some dozing, some asleep, a few chatting. It seemed as if the other two-thirds formed a distinct species on their own, only because of narrow differences in limbs, organs and gestures. At a glimpse, they were earthlings, but no, they all had an additional organ affixed to their palm, flat, embraced by thumb and fingers. Also, their other hand’s fingers and thumb were busy with a fast and filigree exercise on this aforementioned organ. Most characteristic: their posture and gesture, heads bowing to and all senses entirely focused on that organ. Later, I researched and learnt the name of that species: the user.
Did technology even influence evolution? And if so, in which direction? If man and society will improve, to which extent by the bettering of technology? What are the long-term prospects of further biological selection for evolution, given the much faster speed of technological advance? Forgive me this late night train of thoughts running through biologism and into science fiction, based on observations of phenomena, ignoring rules of interdisciplinary discourse, confusing cause and effect, even worse, committing the fallacy of non-human organ additions with the analogy of species emergence unheard of since the Porcupine Man had been misconstrued by the medical police in the 18th century. To judge the impact of everyday observation of smart-phone users on diverse fields of contemplation should be a circle that could be squared step by step, without an euphemistic notion of modernization. Technological evolution (well, nowadays) is much faster than biological evolution, necessary, but less important. Tools remain those highly progressive elements driving modernization in desirable directions – best decisions assumed.
Lately, many airlines reconsidered the ban on smart-phones aboard airplanes and will allow the flight mode, clearing the way for the user to do the same thing they did on the train (and almost anywhere else). Ironic, isn’t it, that the last bastion of earthling’s stillness was located at FL330 above the earth’s surface. But will the user still watch any IFE? The E will be replaced by an I for information I guess, at least for aircraft with drop-down screens, whereas those in the back of the seats will remain the gold standard for wide-bodies on long-range flights – and few will even bother about it all on a short-haul flight.
Which is what evolution seems to demand from us: enjoy the pleasure and fun, take it easy, don’t be bored, and to use all tools to achieve something higher – in the sense of metaphor, too. I forgot to mention: from observations on trains and aircraft to road traffic: Don’t bow and drive, user!