Just throwing it out there for anyone else who'd never thought about it before. Certainly changed my perspective a bit.
The population of nomadic humans was lower, but there's evidence that they were much healthier than those who settled down to grow crops full-time. Agriculture was a win because it allowed for many more people to be born, but it's not a life for which we're well adapted.
ADDED: If this guy is right, 99% could turn out to be an underestimate or an overestimate:
Dietary changes would have been a substantial. Lactose tolerance, for example is almost certainly new.
If one defined the prevalence of each gene in the population you would get a vector were you could possibly 'change direction'. None of this requires any metric of 'goodness' to be defined if that is what you are worried about.
Or are you using some other metric to measure what you call "healthier"?
The first subsection is "variation over time". The drop between the paleolithic and neolithic coincides with the development of agriculture.
This is a pretty contentious issue. The idea that humanity's single most (evolutionarily) successful technology caused a massive decline in individual quality of life is pretty disturbing, and some of the evidence is contradictory. It seems like a debate best left to experts, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I still agree with the original post -- we're very lucky to be alive now.
Looks like the article you linked to covers the same material.
"We know roughly when and where farming began, because of the archæological evidence: domestication is a shock to the physiology of man and beast. The skeletons of people change, they temporarily grow smaller and less healthy, as the human body adapts to a protein-poorer diet and a more arduous lifestyle. Likewise, newly domesticated animals get scrawnier at first."
I'm sure some google wizardry could find a real source.
When we look at how the average lifespan is increasing, we're only looking at the lifespan since the start of civilization as we know it - allowed by agriculture. It's possible that our quality of life is only now catching up to what our hunter-gathered ancestors had.
Also, while I generally scoff at scifi, it is entirely possible that we will make big strides against aging this century. I expect my chilren will grow up with their grandparents. I expect their grandkids will not even understand the import of that sentence.
I'm 19 years old, and I hold a strong hope that they will hold my children in their time.
I can't explain how much that would mean to me.
Can you imagine burying your own elderly daughter?
EDIT: he's also great-granddad to my kid :) My great-grandmom from grandmom side lived to 95...
Also, considering how much time I waste now, who's to say I won't just take more resources to complete what I'd have done in a shorter span?
Yet you're arguing that people should hurry up and die so 'we' can move on and not stay 'mired in the past' and 'wasting time'. What do they matter? Where are we moving to that's so important?
If we can live until we choose to die or die by accident, feed everyone, keep the planet in good condition, hit virtually 100% nanomechanical recycling / construction and have enough resources for people or virtual people to set off exploring the universe, what else matters? Why do we need everyone to be young? And we might be able to step usefully close to those things in a thousand years or so - and if you agree with Kurzweil, 1000 years of progress will happen in much less than 1000 years. We might even live to see it.
For instance, the decline in institutional racism against black people in America wouldn't have been nearly so successful if it wasn't for all the old segregationists dying off in recent decades. There are definitely real costs and benefits to social conservatism.
There's beauty that no matter how burdened an individual is by experience, they will die and the next generation will get to try again, hopefully without too much of the negative baggage passed on.
Misses the qualities that make it worth living? Have you checked out what death is? The only way you can have hope and curiosity is by being alive to experience them. Prolonging the state of being alive is a much much better way to address "quality of life" than saying "death is for your own good - you'd probably be miserable otherwise anyway".
There's beauty that no matter how burdened an individual is by experience, they will die
I think not, because there is nobody outside "people who are alive" to be experiencing the alleged beauty. The next generation don't get to try "again", they get to try ... full stop.
Try what, though? Humanity as a whole isn't trying to do anything. There's no outsider giving points for space exploration and underwater colonies and disease eradication. The only point to progress is to progress the lives of people who are alive, and anything other than that about "the next generation" is a holdover from the fact that we don't have enough power to affect big changes in one lifetime but we can argue that they are worth changing for the next generation. It would be even better, not worse, if we could be changing things to improve our own lives a hundred years on.
I'm saying that death and birth together, but only together, allow new starts. Any wild deviations in individuals, be they bad, such as depression, or great, like genius, end with that individual. We lose some wonderful and some damaged people, but the steady stream of endings and beginnings permits us to continuously renew and reassess our values and direction as a society and species.
Yes, you will not get to live forever, but it also means that human beings are healthier for having had so much variety of experience.
OK - but why is that desirable?
What do you mean to say human beings are healthier?
I'd hope the species as a whole is benefitting a lot from the 150,000 people who die every day. How is the species benefitting (in ways that could not happen without mass unplanned death)?
Human beings benefit because of resource use and culture change. Imagine if we double the lifespan of the majority of people on earth how insane things would quickly become.
Or are we only talking about doubling the lifespan of those who can afford it? In which case wouldn't it be better to focus these research resources into raising universal quality of life (ie developing malaria drugs), rather than further raising QoL for the rich in the 1st world?
I hope you're already working on your immortality elixir and your doomsday device.
I just can't imagine being bored, not in a million lifetimes.
If we haven't solved the over-population issues by 2100 then I think the 22nd Century will be defined by ecological disaster.
I'm not sure if I'm being too pessimistic or not!
Its that the more experienced people of ANY organization are generally negative. The world pop is an organization, but you can put this idea towards any organization that exists.
Something else to mention to people who ignore science.
The Moral Imperative of Our Future Evolution:
note: I'm note sure if that's right or not, but it sounds like it might be
Wilson defines the "jesus" (small j) as the number of scientific facts known at the time of Jesus. Then he goes on to count how many years it takes to double that number. By his count, humanity accumulated 2j by about the year 1500. Then 4j by the year 1750, and so on. I forget the exact numbers but the point of the lecture was that our j-factor was increasing at an ever-increasing rate. By Wilson's estimation the curve would go vertical sometime around ... wait for it ... the year 2012.
This reads a lot like Kurzweil's singularity hypothesis (among others) but I'm not sure who developed the concept first.
Kurzweil was following along after a lot of other people.
Vernor Vinge, for instance, came up with the term Technological Singularity in 1993, Teilhard de Chardin had the Omega Point in 1950, etc.