# What will man become?

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But the problem is a lack of rational argument against my points. Simply stating that resources are finite is not an argument against my point that most such resources are present in amounts that mean they will not run out for hundreds or thousands of years.

Nobody is arguing against that statement because it is true. The points of discussion you neglected to address were those relating to the rare elements (which I for one repeatedly invited you to comment on), and the principle of something being unavailable for use if it is already in use elsewhere.

Indeed, if a future equivalent of the old mohole project means our descendents can tap the molten magma in the Earth's mantle, the amounts of resources will be so vast as to approach infinity for all practical purposes.

And that would be lovely, if it is ever done. Ideally it would work as advertised or better, and render this debate moot.

The only real argument is cost. As we move to lower and lower purity ores, will the cost of extraction become prohibitive? Only time will tell.

Or as a wacky alternative, economics.

The other point is substitution. For example : silicon is one of the most abundant elements, and silicon compounds can be used for a vast range of possible raw materials, including amazing ceramics.

This does not mean anything can be substituted.

Carbon, as has been pointed out, is abundant. It can, in theory, be converted into extremely valuable allotropes including diamond, buckyballs, graphite, buckytubes. If you extend this to organic compounds, we have a resource of almost infinite variety.

Or alternatively, you do to this discussion what ignoring a physical law does to all those discussions about light speed.

I think that the idea of human progress being stopped due to lack of available resources represents terrible and totally unrealistic pessimism.

I very much hope that my fears are never realised, but what is or is not likely is not contigent on the emotional response certain humans have to that concept.

All I am saying is that it is possible we will shoot ourselves in the foot with regard to successfully migrating off this planet. I haven't yet seen any convincing counter-argument showing how that is impossible, and I am not really sure why it is such a massive bone of contention in this thread.

Changing costs mean that the materials used in 100 years will not be the materials we use today.

Yes, because some will start to become so scarce as to economically force substitution with a less ideal material.

The materials they use then will be superior.

Unsupported assertion, unless you only consider human-devised combinant materials, which somewhat begs the question.

After all, the whole history of the science/engineering topic of materials use is a history of continuous improvement, and lowering costs.

As long as you ignore the materials which have historically risen in cost and/or not changed at all.

Come back to Earth, Lance.

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Don't you think this is a sort of "god of the gaps" argument?   What you are saying is this:   1) Earth has limits on the useful extractable volumes of resources required for space expansion, 2)

As I understand it, your argument is basically that the resources to build spacecraft and space mining will be unavailable. The reason I am going on about the prices of things is that the price of something determines its availability (for small enough scales, of course). In pointing out that the price of raw materials to construct these things is pathetically small compared to actually building and designing them, I am making a point about the availability of the raw materials. If as you say the materials are being used elsewhere, it is simply a matter of cost: if NASA is willing to pay more for a material than whoever else is buying it, people will sell the material to NASA. If the material is no longer being mined, then NASA would have to buy items that already have the material. Since the material is a small portion of the cost for space ships, NASA will be able to afford it.

To put it another way: if the cost of materials were to increase so much that NASA can't afford them, then we would be in the stone age again because nobody else would be able to afford them either.

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• 2 weeks later...

When considering this question I found thinking about man as a species didn't get me anywhere. The answer is the result of a sum containing many variables, so i decided to consider the variables.

How might our planet change? The weather systems, environment etc. What global events might occur? Like pandemic disease (In humans or maybe food animals), an unexpected change in food chains and so on.

I haven't come up with an answer yet, but these are the things likely to shape us and change us.

What made me think of it was a recent programme, the short of it is: Big meteorite, end of the dinosaurs and mammals went underground (or maybe lived there anyway) and had the advantage so it became the predominant species, the line eventually leading to us. Without that event who knows what may have occured. So what may happen in the future that will cause us to adapt if we are to survive and what adaptions will lead to the greatest survival.

What does anyone think about that?

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what will man become?

what does man want to become?

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Ulna

If you are talking of long term genetic changes in Homo sapiens, such as those which evolution conferred on the mammals in past eras, I think Granpa's comment is pertinent. Our future evolution will be primarily determined by whatever genetic changes we decide to apply, using advanced genetic engineering techniques.

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Skeptic is probably right - the entire human population is so large that to spread a single good gene through it would take thousands of generations, while active manipulation of the genome is probably a generation away at most.

Of course, there are limits, too, such as those imposed by our basic chemistry or developmental processes.

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There are social effects on selection as well, in a species such as ours. It would be very interesting to observe those over a few thousand years, but of course none of us will be able to do that

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Oh, I'm planning of living for quite a while. Hopefully, life extension will be able to keep me going long enough for them to find a cure for aging. It's a long shot, but maybe.

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Without that event who knows what may have occured.

Even more reptillian politicians perhaps?

So what may happen in the future that will cause us to adapt if we are to survive

I’d guess the old classic pressure will dictate: drastic environmental changes and limitations - due to things like, war, resource depletion driven by consumption, overpopulation and natural disasters. I’ll put my money on good old power and control (war) as the first likely drivers that will cause us to adapt or perish.

and what adaptions will lead to the greatest survival.

Short term – Technological, better sticks and stones.

Longer term – fantastic natural brain/mind mutations (i.e. substantially increased intelligence and consciousness) that will be the main driver of a H. sapiens speciation, branching off into a more dominant species that obviously uses their closest ancestor: ‘H. sapiens’, as their cattle/slave type ultra precious resource. It’s interesting to me that H. sapiens are and have been predatory and parasitic to their own kind in crude and subtle ways for a long time and are continuing to this very day. You can almost see how a speciation can and eventually will take place just by observing economic segregation in ones own nation. Consider the fact of economic social classes predominantly breeding with their own, royalty’s selective breeding program? This must have similar functions to a herd being separated from other parts of its herd until a speciation eventually occurs?

On a lighter note, the new H.sapiens brighter species might be that much more conscious and intelligent that they treat all lesser powerful species with great love and care?

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• 2 weeks later...

Considering that mutations are sometimes passed on and the population of the earth is increasing in a geometric progression extinction is inevitable. It amuses me that people who claim to think scientifically have not noticed that we are losing species to extinction a bit faster than we gain them and this appears to have been the case from the beginning.

You watch to much science fiction . After all if evolution is true humans are just another animal.

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we are losing species to extinction a bit faster than we gain them and this appears to have been the case from the beginning.

That is not an internally consistent statement.

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... we are losing species to extinction a bit faster than we gain them and this appears to have been the case from the beginning.

so there are a negative number of animal species?

After all if evolution is true humans are just another animal.

correct.

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Re extinctions.

The current era is often referred to as the sixth great extinction event, and it is true that species loss to extinction is running at a very high rate.

However, all five previous great extinction events have been followed by a massive speciation event, with new species coming into being at a much faster rate than 'normal'. It is reasonable to assume this is happening now, also.

However, while an extinction can occur within a year, or a few years, a new species will take a much longer time to come into being. The fastest I am aware of is a new Lake Victoria cichlid fish that appeared over a 100 year period. Thus, we will not see new species appear one by one as we observe with extinctions. Instead, literally millions of new species will be slowly happening simultaneously.

New species appear to occupy ecological niches that are vacant. This happens when one species goes extinct and vacates the niche. However, it will also happen when a new niche appears that was not there before. eg. a volcano raises an island from the sea, providing new opportunities for life. Humans are creating new niches at a fantastic rate. There are a massive number of new opportunities for life to exploit in human created structures, and human created changes to local ecologies.

I conclude that there is a massive speciation event happening right now - just too slowly for us to observe. I predict that we will see long term genetic changes in many existing species once our technology permits it - probably within 50 years. Since many new niches now exist, it is logical that the number of new species slowly coming into being will outnumber the number going extinct. It may take hundreds or thousands of years, though, before these new species can be identified as such.

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