Sunday, January 21, 2007

Humans: 70,000 years old

When did humanity start? One marker is the time we upgraded the 1 million year old stone axe. DeLong excerpts Lapite who quotes Hawks:
Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: The Dawn of Humanity

[Lapite] ... Now, the question you have to ask yourself is just how "human" creatures incapable of bettering the simple stone handaxe over a million years could possibly be; they may have looked like us, but it's clear they didn't think like us, and the timespans under consideration rule out "culture" as the limitation here.

Indeed, as Hawks suggests, at this point it isn't even clear that such a thing as "culture" (and its attendant variation across time and space) existed in a meaningful sense until about 80,000 years ago...

There was a big wetware upgrade 80K years ago. Hawks and others have pointed out other likely upgrades 40K and maybe 15K years ago. The process is continuing; natural selection doesn't stop just because we our world is increasingly artificial and virtual.

I read Hawks and DeLong, therefore I shall sample Lapite for a time ...

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