We are not at the peak of the evolutionary tree, far from it, but the likely end is some form of free coherent energy form, passing through the electro-mechanical stage.
At the moment we are at the mercy of our biology, prone to disease and breakdown, and probably having a lifetime of a maximum of 200 years at best before some form of catastrophy stops us from functioning. As far as dementia goes, most of our mental functioning has something like an end date of 120 years, starting to go wrong after about 70 and the risks doubling each 5 years from that point. 75 being twice that of 70, 100 being 64 times the risk, 120 being 500 times the risk and almost a guarantee of it.
So we are approaching the limits of our biology. The human body may not be designed to withstand the necessary modifications in terms of healthy eating exercise and medical interventions to keep it durable for more than 120 years. There are simply too many things that go wrong with it due to age. Although creatures are around for more than this time, they have a disadvantage of biology when it comes to processing abilities and diversity. Some creatures live for thousands of years, but they are prone to extinction because of that lack of change, being anchored into the environment they find themselves in, or too changeable to allow for stability in mental development, and the environment is sure to change. Humans themselves are becoming more anchored in the present than past generations in this way, dependent on certain things that may not always be there, foods being one area in particular, possibly by fad or social dietary trends removing tolerances to a diversity of foods. This trend may remove many from being able to consume them without damage, or at all. In which case, if the environment changes and the current foods are not available they will be at a distinct disadvantage in the new environment and their lines may cease.
There is a concern at the moment of digital computer systems becoming sentient, but the complication of the animal brain is not just on a few billion 2-way connections, the difference between a chimpanzee brain and a human brain being 12 times more neurons in the human brain at about 86 billion compared to 7 billion. On average a neuron can have something like 1,000 connections, so a human brain could have as many as 86,000,000,000^1,000 connections to make it sentient compared to 7,000,000,000^1,000 in a chimpanzee. Compare this to the most powerful computer that could have as many as 1,000,000,000,000,000^5 connections, the chimpanzee brain being over 10^500 times as complicated and capable, the human brain being closer to 10^1000 times, even the humble fruit fly being probably 40 times as complicated and capable as the best current computer, so at least a couple of orders above. What it does have though is speed of operation and exactness, although testing this exactness is an assumption of operation rather than having something to rigorously test against.
Things like quantum computers are tested using quantum computers for correctness past a certain point, so if one turns out to be incorrect, the test would qualify it as true, but being equally incorrect by the nature of the beast. 1+1=3, the second system confirming 1+1=3, so 1+1=3 is true and proven, except when something finally comes along that says it isn’t and a paradigm shift happens, everything based on it needing revaluation and new theory, not just modification of an old one.
The fastest computer in the world can do 93,000,000,000,000,000 exact calculations per second, compared to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 estimated calculations per second in a human, so the processing power is nearly there, requiring 2 orders above.
Storage is the key, with exactness again with computers, estimation and adaptive storage with animals. The storage at present in the world is somewhere near 300 billion gigabytes of data, fruit flies maybe able to store 12,000 billion gigabytes from its environment, so really only an order above for that, 2 or 3 for humans.
So, in the next few decades it may be possible to preserve a person in an electrical storage environment, but probably not make them functional again, except in a modified biological matrix for 1,000 of years of current development speeds. This means that there would be a necessity of a biological/electrical hybrid required for this or cyborg type affair. Able to access the biological thinking mechanism and senses, but interacting freely with an electrical symbiotic one. One giving the sentient and stochastic ability, the other giving speed of calculation and exactness. Movement and concentration of thought towards either probably not being a good prospect, maybe losing abilities, insanity, or connections to other creatures including those that promoted them. It’s unlikely that the standards that humans consider important today may survive such a process and the being falling into patterns of self-confirmation. Basically, seeing the future and working towards only that future as it sees only the future in a self-fulfilling way. The dangers of isolated intellect.
If it had gone too far down this line it would probably be uncoverable in the future options or capabilities it could have in its present form. The purpose may have been totally lost. There may come a stage at what point it realises what it has missed or is missing. The only option would be then to foster a parallel evolution to its original in a number of similar environments to those it originally had, giving free licence to all the freedom of action and interaction allows without interference, then at a suitable stage having a suitable similar symbiotic combination to progress forward again.
But humans have not reached anywhere near this level of technology and probably won’t for tens of thousands of years. It would probably require at least a small proportion of the age of the universe for this to happen, concurrent events spread over a significant proportion. If you have a belief in concurrent evolution and synchonicity of events it may be that no civilisation in the universe has reached this point so far, the evidence of the development of similar ideas, inventions and theories at the same time on this planet suggesting similar timings of things occurring from similar events are the normal, not the exception.
As the population of the earth slowly gets older there is a tendency for resources to be sequestrated amongst its older and more developed nations and a smaller number of individuals amongst those. This means there will be lower average distribution of resources, slowing down and reversing social advancement except when it concurs with the objectives of the developed ones, eventually reverberating on the very people who are keeping those resources for their own use. The ‘King Complex,’ where a society that would normally advance at a steady rate does not, the ‘King’ and those around him hogging those resources, so that ideas and invention cannot now happen, the lack of availability and the need to survive countering the chance of actually doing something about it and improving the situation. Processes that would help all, including the King, are suppressed, the haves suffering the consequences as much as the have-nots.
This has happened many times in the past with trade helping the transfer of ideas and information, but having little to work on, meaning they are not put into practice except with limited sponsorship by merchants and nobility.
Only when the overall pattern was of enlightened development for all did those societies truly advance. This can be seen in the enlightened view of Prince Albert in the 1840’s, society advancing very little in the millennia before then, with conditions for the lower members extremely poor, but advancement for those from this point gradually advancing society into the one we have today within a period of 150 years. This echoed equally and distributed among the societies around it, and barring wars where leaders regressed and decided to degenerate into violent resource sequestration, societies continued to advance.
Sadly, many business people and leaders have the objective of owning and controlling it all, ending up not owning or controlling anything except for short periods, pleasing no-one including themselves. If one person owns or controls it all, everybody else has nothing, so there is a vested interest in bringing down this system. In a system that has a large resource differential there are always people working to destroy it rather than keep it running. In a society that benefits all there is a vested interest in keeping it that way or all working in the same direction. This is where the idea of fairness comes in, not one of having the concept ‘of only allowing a person to have what you can’t stop them from having,’ but working towards being provided with a fair share, not only the maximum you can get away with, keeping the rest of this fair proportion of allocation for yourself. At the moment we probably have the biggest differential between top and bottom in the worlds societies at any time in all its history, so we have a built in mechanism for its downfall.
A society is only as advanced as it treats its lowest member.
One of the latest concepts to come out is that of ‘enlightened self-interest,’ but much of it is based on very shallow thinking, usually ‘I will do what I want to, and in my own interests, only helping where it coincides with giving me an advantage, but having no effect on my plans.’ ‘If my actions agrees with societies advancement then I claim it is good, if it doesn’t agree with my actions I will do them anyway.’ Heads I win, tails you lose.
But, in many ways society has changed. There now seems a selective principle of ‘I will demand and expect equality in all other peoples dealing with me, but I will not demand or give equality in my dealings with them.’ This is seen where a distinct advantage or trend is seen which now favours a minority, but that minority refuses to call it out, seeing it as payback for times when it was the other way.