“At first, evolution proceeded by natural selection, from random mutations. This Darwinian phase, lasted about three and a half billion years, and produced us, beings who developed language, to exchange information,” according to Stephen Hawking, our planet’s preeminent physicist.
But what distinguishes us from our cave man ancestors is the knowledge that we have accumulated over the last ten thousand years, and particularly, Hawking points out, over the last three hundred.
In the last ten thousand years the human species has been in what Hawking calls, “an external transmission phase,” where the internal record of information, handed down to succeeding generations in DNA, has not changed significantly.
“But the external record, in books, and other long lasting forms of storage,” Hawking says, “has grown enormously. Some people would use the term, evolution, only for the internally transmitted genetic material, and would object to it being applied to information handed down externally. But I think that is too narrow a view. We are more than just our genes.”