Evolution: a new ancestor of homo sapiens

In December 2013 Steven Tucker and Rick Hunter discovered new bones in the cave of Rising Star. There was only room for a very skinny human beings to crawl through the small Superman’s Crawl to reach Dragon’s back and descend further down into cave Dinaldi.

image: http://wetenschep.nl/

The book Skull in the rock tells about the search for the remains of the origins of the humanoid species. We all have this inner notion that going down into caves will bring us a greater wisdom of our species. We hope to get in touch with our ancestors. And that is exactly what Lee Berger and his son did in 2008.

The Skull in the rock
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He wanted to find fossils that would bring more clarity into the evolution of our species Homo sapiens. Berger thinks that the bones found in the caves of Dinaldi proof to be the Rosetta stone in the evolution of Homo Sapiens.

If you descent 12 meters down the earth into the Rising Star cave, you enter another cave. There the remains were found. 1550 specimen belonging to approximately 15 individuals called Homo Naledi.

Homo Naledi
National Geographic

The strange fact about this hominoid is that his top half is ape like, while his legs and feet are human-like. It’s head, and therefore his brain was half as big as ours is. Grown men where about 60 inches, women where a bit smaller.

Another strange fact is that in the cave there where no remains of animals. So the  people found here did not live here. Where they buried? Thrown down into a ritual after death? That would mean that Homo Nalendi had a form of consciousness and ritual that Homo sapiens has untill this day. This also implicates that Homo Nalendi also knew how to make light in the darkness of the cave… Evolution is a fascinating puzzle and Homo Naledi brings many new questions

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Ray Kurzweil: futurist or fool?

Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil

Some say Ray Kurzweil is a genius. Some say Ray Kurzweil is a mad-man.
When he was 17 Ray created a homebuilt computer that could compose classical music. The Kurzweil synthesizer was born. Later, he created a reading machine for the blind. At this moment he works for Google. He wants to live forever. Beating death.

In the documentary Transcendent man Ray talks about evolution. He explains how human evolution started out biological. The genome is an information carrier. But human beings also became technological inventors. And there has a technological evolution going on as well. It is Ray’s dream to combine the two for the better of mankind. He does so using technology and biology.

I wrote a blog about the shadow that discussed the tension between man and machine. With Moore’s law in my mind I know that the best place to look for answers is in The singularity is near, written by Kurzweil in 2006.

Ray Kurzweil
The singularity is near

In this book Ray Kurzweil talks about using technology to improve health. But it also raises questions.
Kurzweil is one of the world’s most respected thinkers and entrepreneurs. Yet the thesis he posits in Singularity is so singular that many readers will be astounded—and perhaps skeptical. Think Blade Runner or Being John Malkovich magnified trillion-fold. Even if one were to embrace his techno-optimism, which he backs up with fascinating details, Kurzweil leaves some important questions relating to politics, economics, and morality unanswered. If machines in our bodies can rebuild cells, for example, why couldn’t they be reengineered as weapons?” (Quote from Bookmarks magazine).

In 2013 he published a new book that shifts boundaries. A work on how to create a mind:

Ray Kurzweil
How to create a mind

He suggests that we will have artificial intelligence by 2029. He analyses the brain like they have been built out of Lego blocks. Each block composed out of 100 neurons. Creating a brain is looking at its interconnectedness with other Lego brain blocks. The building blocks Ray Kurzweil describes are based on Pattern Recognition in the brain. All the blocks are hierarchical organized. It is all very technological in its analysing process but very challenging to read.

The second main stream of attention that Ray Kurzweil has is health. Being a diabetic (type 2 diabetic) he composed a diet and a way of moving that contributes to youth (he wants to live forever!). He takes as many as 200 supplements a day (that is about 13 per hour). But he looks good. He wrote a book about his insights into the well-being of the body.

Ray Kurzweil
Fantastic Voyage

His secrets to health are: movement, dark chocolate, espresso, lots of vegetables and a lot of supplements. Still his book about the body is refreshing in insights and well worth reading.

I do not think Ray Kurzweil is a fool. I think he is a brilliant thinker. And like all brialliant thinkers he is allowed to a couple of strange habits.


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