Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
I can honestly say that my most recent intellectually stimulating experience was a trip to the movie theater; I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Of course the CGI was visually stimulating, and talking monkeys are always intriguing, but what really hit me was the rapid advancement of the apes. Their progress was astonishing, beyond any potential human development. Coupled with their natural physical advantages, the apes’ elevated intellect made them unbeatable.
Walking out of the theater, a theory initiated itself in my head: humans also once stole the torch of supremacy from a formerly great species. (Sound familiar, Prometheus?) Obviously, our superior intellect and opposable thumbs allowed us to surpass our ecological rivals and deliver us to primacy. Just as obviously, about 150 years ago Charlie Darwin expressed this theory of evolution… but let me take you on a hypothetical journey in order to complete my theory.
Hypothetically, a species lived on a dull, flat Earth before the homo sapien sapiens. From this bland, spherical planet they raised mountains, gorged out bodies of water, and, in their ultimate masterpiece, constructed other, more complex beings. Eventually, these innovative creatures were overrun by humans, who took their turn in manifesting progress by advancing the world’s technology by “aping” what their predecessors left behind; the nervous system inspired computers, with the capacity to store knowledge and calculate equations; the circulatory system prompted irrigation, the dispersion of a vital liquid to many cells. Visible parallels between our make-up and our made-up are virtually everywhere.
Is an iPhone as complex as a living cell? Absolutely not. Do we have the resources and the intellect to create something that is? I believe so. Progress is inevitable when the blueprints to the future are quite literally in your hands. We have a road map and a Chevy filled with (rather expensive) gas. Now it’s time to continue our journey. Let’s go ape.
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