Richard Dawkins observed in The Selfish Gene that from the point of view of a gene, a living body is merely a carrier to transport it into the future. I believe we are now entering the century of the Selfish Mind. Man has always been a creature restlessly seeking a reality beyond himself. We cannot know what a chimpanzee thinks about when he gazes at the stars, or what ideas a dolphin has about air. But we know what we think, and we have traveled so high in the atmosphere we cannot breathe and then beyond. We have placed humans on the Moon, sent our devices to other planets, and our signals reaching out to the universe, not to be received until after our extinction, if then.
The earliest hominids must have had complex ideas, but they were trapped inside their minds. Out of the desire to share those ideas with other minds, they devised symbols, sounds and speech. I see you, I see this, I think this, I want to tell you. Many species make sounds--at first to warn or to frighten, then to express more complex needs. We don't know if speech itself was a goal, because we cannot be sure if they had a conception of what that might be. But from its first "words," mankind found itself driven to improve and extend its self-expression. I will not rehearse here the forms that drive has taken. A short list will do: Symbols, drawings, signs, writing, printing, analog information, now digital information. The storage, manipulation and transmission of digital data was a threshold step as crucial as the bone used as a tool in "2001." The bone became our key to the physical domain. The transistor chip became our key to the digital domain.