April 15, 2014
The Future Goblin Race
An article resurfaced on the BBC website’s list of ‘Most Read’ that I remember interested me the first time back in 2006, about the potential for the human race to effectively split into two, with one lovely, shiny, smart and athletic class, and one class of short, “dim-witted” goblins. A very odd prospect.
The article makes the point that the scenario is similar to that described in the 1895 novel The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. It does sound like a fictional situation, but is the thinking of a respected evolutionary theorist from the London School of Economics, Oliver Curry.
Curry suggests that this transition will take 100,000 years, and makes predictions for the nearer future too. He believes that the human race will peak in around the year 3000, with physical attributes resembling the idealized, movie star image we have now: men will have square jaws and large penises, and have symmetrical facial features and athletic bodies. Women will have clear skin, large clear eyes and glossy hair. Our average height will be greater and our life expectancy will be well over 100 years.
A few thousand years on, though, and things look more bleak. Our dependence on technology and medical innovation will reduce some of the things we need to be successful and healthy. Our immune systems and the improvement of our genetics through failure will suffer as a result of over-reliance on drugs, while technology will leave us inactive and unable to communicate as well as we should. We will become emotionally less able, at the same time as becoming physically worse off. Those nice square chins will disappear as we won’t even need to chew our food as much anymore.
This sort of sounds like we would all become a goblin race, eventually, but Dr. Curry says that sexual selection will be the reason for the division. We will become choosier about our sexual partners and therefore, while traditional racial lines such as black and white will be more blurred, divisions based on attractiveness and physical attributes will be significant enough for the human race to diverge completely.
It is not explained why he expects people to become more choosy. It may be because a trend which is already beginning will continue to become more important; that as society develops people feel less of a need to take a partner urgently. It is already happening in the West, where people marry and settle down later in life or in increasing numbers don’t at all, and in Japan where technology is enough to keep some people occupied in a far more satisfactory way than the pressures of traditional expectations.
Economic patterns are already emerging too which hint at a divided future. While most people in the developed world are getting richer, a small but significant ‘underclass’ is being left behind, almost without hope climbing the social ladder. Let’s hope that we can save ourselves, as our awareness of the need for greater equality improves along with our chins.
Image Credit: Thinkstock