What Will We Look Like In 100,000 Years? Animé Characters

Artist Nickolay Lamm and scientist Alan Kwan team up to see what humans will look like in the future.

Science-fiction has a knack for predicting the future. Speculative weapons from swipe-based interfaces to unmanned aircraft were long sci-fi hallmarks before they became ubiquitous technologies IRL. Others, like real-time holograms, surely aren’t that far away. (Light speed, on the other hand--never going to happen…right?)

Yet the fact that these fantastical techie visions were eventually realized changes nothing about their original speculative nature. Things like ray guns or bionic limbs say much more about the cultural and scientific milieu in which they were dreamt up than about the projected futures they outline, especially if those futures are, oh, 100,000 years away.

What we look like today:

Late last week, artist Nickolay Lamm dropped several renderings that claimed to predict what humans might look like in the year (C)MMXIII.

The visualizations, which imagine our descendants with the puppy-eyes of animé characters and the foreheads of Talosians, were developed in consultation with computational genomicist Alan Kwan. (Lamm, thankfully didn’t attempt any guesses at future-forward fashion--the subjects are both clothed in gray American Apparel tees.)

Lamm and Kwan’s genetically augmented, evolutionary progressed Übermenschen would unfold in three stages -- 20,000 years, 60,000 years, and 100,000 years--during which time, the human genome would have been “wrested” from the determining factors of natural evolution and put in the service of human needs and tastes. In a report, the pair chart the biological and genetic milestones:

In 20,000 Years

The human 20,000 years from now would look to us like someone today except we would notice the forehead is subtly too large. […] By this point, communications lenses will have replaced devices such as Google Glass.

In 60,000 Years

[Humans will have] 1. Larger eyes in response to the dimmer environment of colonies further from the Sun than Earth. 2. More pigmented skin to alleviate the damaging impact of much more harmful UV radiation outside of the Earth’s protective ozone. 3. Thicker eyelids or a more pronounced superciliary arch to alleviate the effects low or no gravity that disrupt and disorient the eyesight of today’s astronauts on the ISS.

[C]ommunications lenses (commlens) in contacts and miniature bone-conduction devices implanted above the ear will work in tandem.

In 100,000 Years

This human face will be heavily biased towards features that humans find fundamentally appealing: strong, regal lines, straight nose, intense eyes, and placement of facial features that adhere to the golden ratio and left/right perfect symmetry.

Of course, several scientists and writers took issue with Lamm and Kwan’s stagist predictions. Forbes writer Matthew Herper countered the original article (also posted by Forbes), saying that the project consulted very little science and operated under a heavy dose of fiction. "Lamm’s vision is science fiction that belongs in the same category as the big-headed aliens from the first ‘Star Trek’ pilot," Herper writes in his rebuttal.

Kwan responded to Herper’s points by stressing that the project was always intended as a speculative exercise and never to be passed of as “real science.” He went on to accuse Herper of purposefully misrepresenting his and Lamm’s “simple thought experiments” for the sake of pageviews. For his part, Lamm shrugged off the flak, telling the New York Daily News that, while his images were informed by a scientific understanding, they were made "just for fun."

So next time you go claiming that the future of the humanity will look like Sailor Moon, remember to check off the "for entertainment purposes only" box.

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12 Comments

  • Mathieu_L

    Missing a "small" point... most of the humains will have asian genes, as they make up more than half of the world population. And so on...

  • Chris

    "By this point, communications lenses will have replaced devices such as Google Glass."Oh wow.  Industrialization is 200 years in.  The internet, what 20? Smart phones 15 at the outside.  And the best we can do in 20,000 years is replace Google Glass with 'communication lenses'. 

  • Roman

    If the past 10000 years is any indication, humans will not evolve much, if at all, and at a barely noticeable rate.  Especially in white developed world(unlike portrayed above), only due the simple fact that birth rate is low, and there are far fewer older men(50+) mating with younger women.  Older men are more susceptible to genetic variations in the human genome, to bring about more variety and further evolution.  To a tiny degree it applies to older women, tiny only due to adverse complications with giving birth at an older age.   Human civilization is a different story though, it will evolve rapidly and immensely.

  • bgrnathan

    ACQUIRED CHARACTERISTICS CAN'T BE PASSED ON: Many
    people have wrong ideas of how evolution is supposed to work. Physical traits
    and characteristics are determined and passed on by genes - not by what happens
    to our body parts. For example, if a woman were to lose her finger this
    wouldn't affect how many fingers her baby will have. Changing the color and
    texture of your hair will not affect the color and texture of your children's
    hair. So, even if an ape's muscles and bones changed so that it could walk upright
    it still would not be able to pass on this trait to its offspring. Only changes
    or mutations that occur in the genetic code of reproductive cells (i.e. sperm
    and egg) can be passed on to offspring.

     

    APES ARE QUITE COMFORTABLE IN HOW THEY WALK, just as humans are quite
    comfortable in how they walk. Even a slight change in the position of a muscle
    or bone, for either, would be excruciatingly painful and would not be an
    advantage for survival. There's no hard evidence that humans evolved from
    ape-like creatures anymore than there's hard evidence that apes evolved from
    four-legged-pawed dog-like creatures. All the fossils that have been used to
    support human evolution have been found to be either hoaxes, non-human, or
    human, but not non-human and human (i.e. Neanderthal Man was discovered later
    to be fully human). Textbooks and museums still continue to display examples
    and illustrations supporting human evolution which most evolutionists have
    rejected and no longer support. Many diagrams of ape-man creatures over the
    years were reconstructed according to evolutionary interpretations from
    disputable bones that have now been discredited but still being taught in
    school textbooks.

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  • Parsa Abdollahzadeh

    An Ape standing upright doesn't make a human in the next generation. you are redefining evolution for your reasoning which is a mistake. Evolution indicates that among a group of creatures in a community there are qualities that attracts the other gender more than others, qualities like being more successful in finding food or fighting off intruders. Those who have these qualities are more likely to live and to mate and create offspring which will pass their qualities to the next generation and this will continue until a new species come to being. The process happens over a very long period of time and very slowly in each generation. There are unclear things about Theory of Evolution but what you are proposing is not one of them. If you are going to criticize something try to be fair, and try to first fully understand it before start criticizing.

  • Meow5

    Don't you find it unusual that people who spout such crap as yourself do so by pointing out some vague facts and then magically drawing an unrelated conclusion? 

    The distance between your reasoning and your point is like the 'missing links' in evolution, except you didn't even bother trying to find the links.

  • Drew Marshall

    The results of aryan-nation space colonist inbreeding? They managed to keep their white purity intact while the godless earthlings came to resemble hot Brazilians the world over.

  • Charles-A Rovira

    The NY Daily News is only two steps above the Inquirer in credibility. (The NY Post is only one step.) This was an exercise in morphing masturbation, not anything serious or scientific. No credible causal chain or evidence was presented. Nothing to see here.

  • Sandanista Behotha

    Way cool.

    Gives new relevance to the 1938 song: ""Jeepers Creepers, where'd ya get those peepers? Jeepers Creepers, where'd ya get those eyes?"