Optical Implants and Evolution

Here’s some cool technology: an optical implant that trans-codes visual stimulus into the format that the cells in your eye expect, rather than just increasing the magnitude of the signal. The technology is in its infancy right now, but it sets the stage for some really awesome progress, in the realm of helping the disabled, but also enhancing the average.

Imagine being able to replace your stock eye hardware with something that could produce twice the resolution. Basically, what if you could undergo a procedure that took your vision from 20/20 to 20/10, or 20/1? Assuming it was safe, that be pretty awesome, moral qualms aside.

But what’s really interesting to me is how evolution would adapt to this kind of progress. Assuming you could get the increased amount of information to your brain, you’d still need the processing power to crunch it all down into something useful. There would be a ceiling to how much you could throw at your mind, before you started loosing information, or otherwise just burning yourself out. As we approach that ceiling (sometime in the future), I imagine people with the power to process more information than others might end up winning in modern day natural selection, and evolution might start making its effects known in fewer generation cycles. This is different from what I might consider natural-evolution, because in natural evolution, beneficial mutations come over long periods of time and are ad hoc; in the case of human-directed evolution, the changes are presumably always beneficial and much more drastic.

Just some thoughts…