Humanity Rising: Why Evolutionary Developmentalism Will Inherit the Future
Smart, John M.
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The main paradigm we presently use to understand our universe is theoretical physics. It has helped us understand much about space, time, energy, and matter but does not presently explain or predict the emergence of information, computation, life, and mind. In biological systems, the discipline of evolutionary development (evo-devo) biology studies how evolutionary and developmental processes interact to guide the production of ordered, complex, adaptive, and intelligent structures. In living systems, we can distinguish evolutionary processes, which are stochastic, variety-creating, divergent, and contingently adaptive, and developmental processes, which produce convergent and systemically statistically predictable structures and trajectories in a hierarchical developmental cycle, from seed, to adult, to reproduction, aging, and death. If our universe is also a cycling, evo devo system, that moves from seed, to adult, to reproduction and death, as several scientists and philosophers now suspect, it must also exhibit both unpredictable evolutionary creativity over its life span and many predictable and constraining developmental constants, functions, and futures, as it grows up, reproduces, and dies. As science learns to see our universe as an evo-devo system, our foresight will greatly improve, and humanity will gain new moral responsibilities, both to predict and help developmental processes unfold, and to increase evolutionary free choice and diversity of paths.
The article of record as published may be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1946756715601647
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