Many (all?) cognitive biases are built-in features of the human attention-sensation-perception-memory-cognition chain of sense making processes. It would not be surprising to learn many of these biases have effects that are relevant to questions regarding how natural selection shaped humans for particular embodied functions in a particular environment. Much has been said and written about how the pre-modern environment evolution calibrated us to function within is in many respects quite different from our modern environment.
I watched a good documentary last night titled, Living in the Future’s Past, a project organized, produced, and narrated by Jeff Bridges. It’s available through your Albuquerque Public Library account’s access to Hoopla Digital, Amazon Prime video, and other services. It lays out the modern dilemma of having a pre-neolithic brain in a Neolithic era and posits several questions that align closely with the theme of our current discussion . The film has commentary from diverse scientific experts, including Daniel Goldman (emotional and social intelligence and mindfulness). The upshot is a recurring suggestion our current brain functionality is capable of reframing our perspective and modulating our perceptions and behaviors around carefully constructed focal questions that get at what sort of future(s) we desire. I like this approach—so well in fact that I Had reserved some web domains months ago: WorldIChoose.org, WorldIChoose.com, ChooseMyWorld.org, and ChooseMyWorld.com. These domains are not active yet. They will relate to the novel I’m writing and to a related non-fiction project. Edward is onto an important approach in looking to semantics (framing, etc.).
Also, on a short-term level, cultural evolution (including language and semantics) appears much more potent a driver than physiological evolution. Given that, I recently purchased a book by an author who goes into great depth on cultural evolution. The book is Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking, by Cecelia Heyes. I may put it forward for a future discussion.
From this article. See it for details.
“Evolution is an ongoing process, although many don’t realize people are still evolving. It’s true that Homo sapiens look very different than Australopithecus afarensis, an early hominin that lived around 2.9 million years ago. But it is also true that we are very different compared to members of our same species, Homo sapiens, who lived 10,000 years ago — and we will very likely be different from the humans of the future.
“What we eat, how we use our bodies, and who we choose to have kids with are just some of the many factors that can cause the human body to change. Genetic mutations lead to new traits — and with the world population now above 7 billion and rising, the chances of genetic mutations that natural selection can potentially act on is only increasing. Don’t believe us? Inverse presents three examples of recent changes to the human body.”
- What is humanity’s situation with respect to surviving long-term with a good quality of life? (Frame the core opportunities and obstacles.)
- What attributes of our evolved, experientially programmed brains contribute to this situation? (What are the potential leverage points for positive change within our body-brain-mind system?)
- What courses of research and action (including currently available systems, tools, and practices and current and possible lines of R&D) have the potential to improve our (and the planetary life system’s) near- and long-term prospects?
Following is a list of (only some!) of the resources some of us have consumed and discussed online, in emails, or face-to-face in 2019. Sample a few to jog your thoughts and provoke deeper dives. Please add your own additional references in the comments below this post. For each, give a short (one line is fine) description, if possible.
- In The Age of AI (Frontline video – about 2 hours)
- Cognitive aspects of interactive technology use
- The origins and evolutionary effects of consciousness
- Damasio on consciousness
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
- Team Human by Rushkoff
- Life 3.0 (video interview – about 1 hr 23 min)
- Life 3.0 synopsis
- Eric Brynjolfsson and Max Tegmark on ‘Life 3.0’ – exponential change (video – about 1 hr)
- Zero marginal cost society – collective commons
- Syntegration – key to innovation
- Storytelling as adaptive collective sensemaking
- How does music affect the brain?
- The neuroscience of creativity
- Is the info processing (IP) metaphor of the brain wrong?
- Intra-species evolutionary arms race drove brainpower leaps
- Evolutionary theory: Fringe or central to psychological science
- Climate change and social transformations
- Algorithm, not talent or merit, determines wealth distribution
- 2019 ‘best’ year on record for humans
- Influence of capitalism on well-being
- Does altruism exist?
- Networks thinking themselves (video – about 1 hour)
- Did ability to enter trance states enable formation of human society?
- Cultural evolution
- Free, Fair and Alive: The insurgent power of the commons
- New scientific model can predict moral and political development
- Do our models get in the way?
- 40-year update on meme theory
- Beyond free will: The embodied emergence of conscious agency
- How the internet is affecting your brain
- Ideas of Stuart Kauffman
- This link shows 12 positive benefits of meditation supported by scientific studies
- Part of the collective commons transformation is how humanity has become a hybrid cyborg with the machine, meaning the personal computer and an internet connection. It has fundamentally changed our nature to one of a mass-communicated collaborative commons. The Frontiers ebook is the tech side of that development, whereas the more social side is what Rifkin writes about.
- Heart-rate variability and social coherence
- How cooperatives are driving the new economy
- Yuval Noah Harari Is Worried About Our Souls
- The Age of Entanglement
- Fungi as a new model for cooperation and communication?
- The landscape of 21st century science
- The collective computation or reality in nature and society (among other great SFI resources)
- Brain tunes itself to criticality, maximizing information processing
- Evolved biocultural beings
- Editorial: Evolutionary Theory: Fringe or Central to Psychological Science
- From computers to cultivation: reconceptualizing evolutionary psychology
- Evolved computers with culture. Commentary: From computers to cultivation: reconceptualizing evolutionary psychology
- Information-Processing and Embodied, Embedded, Enactive Cognition Part 1
- Frontiers – Peer-reviewed, free-access scientific journals
- Divided brain, divided world (video – about 11 mins)
- Is the power law really all dat?
- Scale-free networks are rare
- Consciousness in humanoid robots
- Journal: Human Arenas
- SFI: InterPlanetary Round Table Discussion: Our Future in Space (Neal Stephenson and others)
- Thinking devices – imitation, mind-reading, language and others – are neither hard-wired nor designed by genetic evolution
- EU Ethics guidelines for trustworthy AI
- The neural and cognitive foundations of math
- AI will never conquer humanity
- The agency of cognitive artifacts
- Neuroscience: Deep breathing changes your brain
An excerpt from the transcript follows. The podcast is here. Weinstein is an evolutionary biologist. Weinstein:
“So more or less our problem is that the magic of humans arose through an evolutionary process driven by an arms race in which human beings were their own worst competitor. So at that point that one reaches what my PhD advisor called ecological dominance, that arms race causes a massive jump in, essentially, computing power. And that computing power came along with all of our best and worst characteristics. So it resulted in a spectacular capacity for collaboration, but the objective of that collaboration is increased competitive capacity against other groups with similar powers.
“Now I don’t think we can spend too much time worrying about whether or not that was a good process, it got us this far, and it has given us the capacity to understand where we are. But what it has done is it has created a drive that is now outstripping our capacity to compensate for its consequences. So that quote you read from my website, essentially, is about what I would call a sustainability crisis. Now conservatives often hear, when a liberal like myself starts talking about sustainability, they assume that we are cryptically talking about climate, about which there is much disagreement in some circles. I’m not talking in particular about climate, I do think we have a climate problem, but even if it were false, we still have a sustainability problem in which we are simply using resources and creating waste in a way that simply, mathematically, cannot continue indefinitely.
“So you have to at least be a cornucopian to imagine that the problems we are creating will be dealt with in due course by solutions that will magically emerge. I don’t think it’s reasonable to be a cornucopian, but you would have to at least make that jump and say, ‘Well yes, were we to continue down this road, we’d be in big trouble, but we all know that solutions arise when they’re needed.’ So if you don’t believe that, then you would end up in my camp and, what I know from experience, to be your camp thinking, ‘Oh shit, we’ve got a very serious problem, and we don’t have a very long time horizon with respect to figuring out what the solution looks like.'”