Eating Shellfish to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI)

Photos © Aditya Mohan | All Rights Reserved.


Human history is a testament to our species' relentless curiosity and adaptability. This narrative spans from the ancient shores where Homo sapiens first harvested shellfish to the cutting-edge laboratories where Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is being developed. The story of humans and shellfish, dating back to 164,000 years ago, is not just a tale of dietary expansion; it symbolizes the quintessential human trait of seeking, discovering, and utilizing new resources for survival and growth. Fast forward to the present, this intrinsic curiosity continues to shape our destiny, now steering us towards the realm of AGI. This article delves into the fascinating journey of human evolution, highlighting how our ancestors' curiosity about new food sources like shellfish parallels our modern exploration of AGI, and explores the implications of this journey for our future.

Homo sapiens & Climate Change

Around 164,000 years ago, during the Middle Paleolithic period, Homo sapiens found themselves along the coastlines of South Africa, a migration influenced by a confluence of environmental and climatic factors. This era, part of the Pleistocene epoch, was characterized by significant climatic fluctuations, including glacial and interglacial periods. According to research, including studies published in the journal "Nature", these climatic changes played a pivotal role in shaping human migration and settlement patterns. During this time, the Earth was emerging from a glacial period, leading to milder conditions and the retreat of ice sheets, which in turn opened up new migratory pathways and made previously uninhabitable areas accessible. The changing climate also impacted flora and fauna distributions, forcing early humans to adapt their hunting and foraging strategies. The coastlines of South Africa, with their rich marine resources like shellfish, offered a stable food source during a time when inland resources could be unpredictable due to the changing environment. This abundance of food, coupled with the need for new resources due to population pressures and environmental changes, likely drew Homo sapiens to these coastal areas. The migration to coastal regions not only provided sustenance but also a new ecological niche that spurred further developments in tool-making, social structures, and cognitive abilities. Therefore, the Homo sapiens' arrival and settlement along South Africa's coastlines around 164,000 years ago were a direct response to the Earth's changing climate, showcasing early human resilience and adaptability in the face of environmental challenges.

A First Encounter: Through the Eyes of a Homo Sapien Discovering Shellfish

164,000 years ago, as I stood on the rugged coastline of what would one day be known as South Africa, my gaze fixed on an odd object washing ashore. A shellfish, unfamiliar and intriguing. Instinctively, I felt a mix of caution and curiosity. "Could this creature be harmful?" I wondered, aware of nature's occasional treachery.

The unknown often harbored danger, and in our world, every new encounter demanded careful scrutiny. "Could it be poisonous?" The thought lingered in my mind, as I recalled past experiences with unfamiliar foods. Yet, the pangs of hunger and the drive to survive urged me to consider the potential of this strange bounty of the sea. My tribe and I had learned to respect the delicate balance of fear and exploration. 

It was this balance that had kept us alive in a world where the line between sustenance and peril was as thin as the shell of this mysterious creature before me. With cautious hands, I reached out, driven by a deep-seated curiosity that had always been the hallmark of my kind, Homo sapiens.

Homo Sapiens & Shellfish

The Homo sapiens' discovery and subsequent exploitation of oysters and other shellfish, dating back approximately 164,000 years ago, marked a significant milestone in human evolution and survival. This period, as detailed in a study published in the journal "Nature" (2007), evidences early humans' foraging along the coastlines of South Africa, unearthing these marine bounties. 

The benefits of this new diet were manifold. Dr. Curtis Marean, a prominent anthropologist, remarked, "The consumption of omega-3 rich brain food such as shellfish could have triggered a leap in cognitive abilities." This diet, rich in proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, was pivotal not just nutritionally but also in brain development, providing Homo sapiens with enhanced cognitive abilities compared to contemporaries. Such an adaptive behavior, fueled by curiosity and the willingness to explore new food sources, was a fundamental survival strategy, particularly during periods of climatic stress when terrestrial resources were scarce. The adoption of shellfish into their diet thus represented a major evolutionary advantage, enabling Homo sapiens not just to survive but to thrive, illustrating how curiosity and the willingness to try new things have been essential to human survival and progress.

Humans & Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) 

The exploration and exploitation of shellfish by early Homo sapiens, driven by their inherent curiosity, parallels modern humanity's venture into the realm of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). Just as our ancestors' willingness to try new and unknown food sources like shellfish played a pivotal role in their survival and evolutionary success, today's pursuit and development of AGI represents a similar leap into the unknown, fueled by an enduring human curiosity. The adoption of shellfish in the diet of early humans led to significant cognitive advancements, much like how AGI promises to exponentially expand our intellectual and problem-solving capacities. This evolutionary milestone of incorporating new resources for survival mirrors the current trajectory where AGI is poised to become a new, indispensable tool in addressing complex global challenges.

The exploration of shellfish required adapting to new environments and developing new skills; similarly, harnessing AGI demands that we cultivate new knowledge and ethical frameworks. Just as our ancestors' curiosity opened doors to unprecedented evolutionary advantages, our current exploration into AGI holds the potential for significant advancements in various fields, signifying a new era of human development and problem-solving capabilities.


The journey from the ancient coasts of South Africa, where our ancestors first discovered the nutritional goldmine of shellfish, to the sophisticated development of AGI, encapsulates the essence of human progress. It is a journey fueled by curiosity, adaptability, and an unyielding quest for improvement. The dietary shift to shellfish was a crucial step in our cognitive evolution, just as the advent of AGI represents a significant leap in our intellectual and technological capabilities. As we continue to explore and harness new resources – be they from the sea or the silicon chip – it's clear that our innate curiosity and willingness to embrace the unknown remain the driving forces behind our survival and continued evolution. This journey, marked by both biological and technological milestones, underscores the enduring spirit of human innovation, promising a future replete with limitless possibilities and challenges.

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