Although bionics hasn’t yet given us the six-million-dollar man, we are not that far away. Already there are soldiers returning to combat with bionic limbs. Already we have built robots smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. When you bring these two trends together, the result is a series of talents far different from our own.
Consider cochlear implants. In his 2009 TED talk, biology visionary Juan Enriquez predicted that we are 10 to 15 machine generations from the point at which the deaf will be able to hear normally. Then, he continued, a few years later “they’ll be able to hear how bats sing or how whales talk, or how dogs talk, and other types of tonal scales. They’ll be able to focus their hearing…and do a series of things we can’t do.” These new talents will wedge open new niches, and the colonization of new niches is what creates speciation. Evolutionarily, it’s the ball game.