A ridiculous June 7 article by Nickolay Lamm, concerning the physical appearance of humanity in 100,000 years, has generated quite a stir around the fake internet world, with smug bloggers and Odd-News-of-the-Day headlines all offering their own takes on the accuracy (or lack thereof) of Mr. Lamm’s predictions. I could not resist dragging my old bones onto this bandwagon, though my creaking bones have arrived admittedly late to the subject. (My great age and painful slowness are to blame for this sluggishness; they make very handy excuses that I never fail to utilize: “…But, but I’m an Old Man!“)
Naturally Nickolay Lamm’s predictions are absurd! He assumes that the ability of future humans to direct their own evolutionary course will lead simply to larger but extremely symmetrical heads and eyes, some corneal implants, nice tans, and extra eyelids. When we consider the living examples of modified humans walking around today’s world, we must conclude that Lamm’s vision lacks imagination. Hair dye, tattoos, the prevalence of cosmetic surgery, various body piercings, hormonal treatments, blue-tooth earpieces, et cetera are just a few examples of how people modify their bodies with the technology of today.
Future technology will drive even greater modifications. Advances in the fields of genetic engineering and nano-technology, among other technologies, will provide people with the tools to modify their human forms into an enormous variety of specializations for different functions in society. Also, humans, given the choice and the ability, will continue to change their forms based on wanton cosmetic whims. Both types of alterations could lead to a huge variety of different human forms. We primitive creatures of today would fail to believe that some of these modified people will even be human at all, or even that they will be alive!
Some Predictions on Future Humans
Despite the difficulty in determining the future human form, I’m going to make some predictions, as seriously as can be made with the current state of human affairs. This assumes that no great catastrophes smack humanity backward into the Dark Ages, that a computer Singularity does not conquer the planet and utilize humans for its own unknowable ends, or that the Messiah doesn’t return to personally rule the Earth. I will merely project current trends of technology and society into the distant future.
Future Humans Will Be Progressive Social Democrats…
Everyone knows that conservatism is the ideology of the old, the backward, and the less intelligent. All college professors say so, and they’re the smartest people around, right? And conservatism is just dead weight, lacking a force of its own apart from resistance to change: if it’s dragged to the next progressive state, then it will try to conserve that, too. So future humans will become more and more socially liberal and inclined to support acts of collective welfare by the government.
Future Humans Will Have Pale Skin…
This flies in the face of current societal assumptions, especially when we consider that humanity will inevitably mix into a single race of people. But look at the various non-White civilizations of the planet today. Despite a common disdain for their former European colonizers, skin bleaching is a worldwide cosmetic trend, particularly in East Asia, India, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Sometimes people even kill themselves with toxic chemicals to whiten their skins. In the future, when racially-neutralized people can select their own pigmentation, they will most generally choose lighter colors and patterns. Hair colors will vary according to all possible shades, with no color or pattern dominating. And of course everyone will have tattoos of some sort, since everyone below the age of thirty has one or more of them nowadays. In the future, tattoos will probably take the form of electronic subcutaneous displays.
Future Humans Will Be Sexually Androgynous…
In our current society, the erosion of gender differences has caused societal friction along several fronts, but societal trends suggest that this erosion will only increase with time. The rise of women into positions of authority and strength, along with the transformation of men into sensitive, lisping metrosexuals, are only the most outward signs of a widespread androgyny. As gender becomes more of a social choice rather than a genetic disposition, and technology allows people to modify their physical forms, it is only a matter of time before the genders settle into a median ambiguity.
Future Humans Will Look Like Children…
Neoteny is the retention of juvenile traits by adults, and the current state of humanity is already marked by the sexual selection of neotenous features. Modern humans have broader, flatter faces on larger heads, with smaller jaws and larger eyes, along with less hair, than our primitive, cave-dwelling Cro-Magnon cousins. This trend will only continue, as evidenced by the human obsession with shaving more and more of their bodies, with the prevalence of childish feelings and emotions, and for the overwhelming preference of cuteness. Selections of “cute” features will lead to further growth in the relative size of eyes and heads, to proportionally smaller noses and receding jaws with fewer teeth, to softer skin and a lack of body hair, and to a weakening of the body and limbs. Essentially future humans will look like children.
Future Humans Will Be Less Individually Intelligent…
Since the invention of writing, we humans have increasingly used our brains to store the locations where knowledge is stored rather than to store the information itself. Illiterate people are renowned for their ability to remember detailed information and to keenly observe events, while today’s smart-phone dependent youth couldn’t even find their way home without using their GPS systems. The people of the future will install wireless computer networks directly into their brains, ending the need to manually handle electronic devices. While such wirelessly-networked people may grow more collectively intelligent and knowledgeable, as individuals they will be stupider than cattle.
Future Humans Will Modify Their Senses…
To better experience the world, future humans will install a host of sensory inputs that will detect and decode a wide variety of radio and sound waves, data, smells, emotions, and physical sensations. Humans will no longer need to stare endlessly at various electronic screens all day long; these screens will appear in their eyes directly. Human vision will see a wider range of colors in the ultraviolet and infrared ranges and beyond. And smells and tastes will be transmitted directly to the brain along with sights and sounds. Even memories and knowledge could be downloaded and shared. Humanity will just be one huge mass of social media endlessly updating statuses with utter pointless nonsense.
The Future Human
With these criteria, what will future humans look like?
Lisa Simpson fits the bill perfectly.
Lisa Simpson is eight years old. As a child and as a cartoon, she appears sexually androgynous (though I must admit that the outfit suggests otherwise). Her skin is a pale yellow, and she shows a precocious preference for progressive social democracy. The spikes on top of her head are not just hair: they house various sensory and processing implants, including wireless receivers and transmitters. Her huge, buggish eyes process and display complex visual data in addition to boosting her overall cuteness.
By the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, we may find that millions of Lisa Simpsons will populate the entire world, maybe even the solar system. Of course, I never particularly liked Lisa Simpson back when I watched that show about 20 years ago. She was too preachy for my tastes. But I’m afraid that she represents our inevitable future, like it or not.
 Lamm, Nickolay. “What Will Humans Look Like in 100,000 Years? – What’s Hot.” Whats Hot RSS. MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, 7 June 2013. Web. 06 July 2013. http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/whats-hot/what-will-humans-look-like-in-100000-years/
 NPR. “Skin Whitening A Global Practice.” NPR News. NPR, 9 June 2009. Web. 6 July 2013. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106419771
 Fauen, Eva. “Top 10 Possible Next Steps in Human Evolution.” Top 10 Possible Next Steps in Human Evolution. Listverse Ltd., 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 06 July 2013. http://listverse.com/2012/11/26/top-10-possible-next-steps-in-human-evolution/
 Zager and Evans. “In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus).” 1969. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izQB2-Kmiic