In the introduction to this Mark Pagel keynote the evolutionary biologist says to his audience that "each of you possesses the most powerful, dangerous and subversive trait that natural selection has ever devised" -- language. Language allows individuals to implant a thought directly from one's own mind into another in a form of biological telemetry. Pagel describes language as "genes talking, getting what they want."
Comparing humans to chimpanzees, Mark Pagel argues that unlike monkeys, humans can learn from their mistakes through social learning. The accumulation of ideas and the progression of technologies has lead humanity to present day accomplishments.
Describing language as the conduit of cooperation, Pagel asks if humanity can afford to have so many different languages. There is no other example in nature where functionally equivalent traits coexist, eventually one is driven to extinction. In this age, where global cooperation is necessary, the progress towards one universal language could very well become a reality.