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When Will Our Software Update? (15/30)
I have questions.
In any analysis of human behavior, it’s likely that there will be some kind of allusion to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. We care what people think because it was dangerous for our ancestors to be disliked, lest they be banished from the tribe. We crave sugar because our ancestors learned to hoard healthy fruits when they found them. We suffer from being sedentary because our ancestors were constantly active.
While our environment has changed dramatically, our brains have not. We live in a modern world that often does not play well with our ancestral tendencies. Tonight I learned that there’s a term for this: evolutionary mismatch.
It’s a fascinating tale of irony if you think about it. We evolved complex cognitive functions in order to better serve us in that ancient environment. We then used those cognitive functions to create a world that looks nothing like the one in which those functions evolved. As a result, this new world is not particularly well-suited for the brains that created it.
The time horizon of evolution is unfathomably long. This makes me wonder: when will our brains catch up to the environment we’ve created? Will our species survive to see that day? What is it like to live in a world for which your brain is designed?
This is interesting food for thought. Thought, of course, which is produced by a maladapted brain. What a time!