Is human ingenuity the key to a better tomorrow? Many of the things that are supposed to improve our standard of living are man-made, whether it is genetic engineering, artificial intelligence or synthetic life. It’s as though we’ve resigned ourselves to believing that nature can’t be trusted. All it can offer us is climate change and mass extinctions, so humanity has to fix things itself.
What if Mother Nature could work with us for a better tomorrow? To take a simple example, think of city wildlife. Today, many of the wild animals living amongst humans are considered pests. They’re a nuisance, and not much else, because they destroy things. Racoons go through our garbage and squirrels chew through power lines. It’s why we don’t put out food or water for these animals – we don’t want them around.
What if, through the process of evolution, today’s pests become tomorrow’s helpers? Squirrels and raccoons might evolve to perform useful household tasks. Raccoons would learn to pick up litter on the front lawn and squirrels would clean out the eavestroughs in return for food and shelter from grateful homeowners. Just as wild wolves evolved to become helpful dogs, maybe city wildlife will make itself useful.