The Acceleration of Cultural Change: from Ancestors to Algorithms

  • 2h 20m
  • Michael J. O'Brien, R. Alexander Bentley
  • The MIT Press
  • 2017

From our hunter-gatherer days, we humans evolved to be excellent throwers, chewers, and long-distance runners. We are highly social, crave Paleolithic snacks, and display some gendered difference resulting from mate selection. But we now find ourselves binge-viewing, texting while driving, and playing Minecraft. Only the collective acceleration of cultural and technological evolution explains this development. The evolutionary psychology of individuals: the drive for "food and sex" explains some of our current habits, but our evolutionary success, Alex Bentley and Mike O'Brien explain, lies in our ability to learn cultural know-how and to teach it to the next generation. 00Bentley and O'Brien examine the broad and shallow model of cultural evolution seen today in the science of networks, prediction markets, and the explosion of digital information. They suggest that in the future, artificial intelligence could be put to work to solve the problem of information overload, learning to integrate concepts over the vast idea space of digitally stored information.

In this Book

  • Traditional Minds
  • Change is not Norman
  • Check the Transmission
  • Cultural Trees
  • Bayesians
  • Traditions and Horizons
  • Networks
  • Hindsighted
  • Moore is Better?
  • Free Willy