The Internet allows us to do all kinds of things we never imagined possible. It lets us communicate with people across the world. We can learn whatever we want at the click of a button. We can navigate roads using our iPhones, and translate languages within seconds. It makes us smarter, and more versatile, and faster than ever. But the Web isn’t just a truly extraordinary invention, it is the apex of human evolution — and the ultimate evolutionary adaptation.
It may seem strange to think of the Web as part of the process of natural selection, but Raymond Neubauer, a professor at the University of Texas, doesn’t think so. In his far-reaching new book, “Evolution and the Emergent Self,” he argues that technology should be seen as part of our planet’s grand evolutionary narrative. He claims that two evolutionary strategies — one, emphasizing simplicity and rapid reproduction (as in bacteria), and the other, emphasizing complexity and hyper-intelligence (as in humans) — have been hugely successful in dominating the planet. The book charts the ways those strategies have managed to pop up everywhere from the animal kingdom to cellphones.