“Professors Alex Bentley and Sergey Gavrilets visit the Evolution of Technology Lab”

19 Jun 2019

Next week, the Evolution of Technology Lab (Institute of Evolutionary Biology, CSIC-UPF) will host two distinguished researchers in the field of cultural evolution and theoretical evolutionary biology. Professor Alex Bentley is the Head of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). Sergey Gavrilets is Distinguished Professor at the University of Tennessee.

We strongly recommend everyone to attend their public lectures:

TALK: ”The acceleration of cultural change” by Alex Bentley

LOCATION: Charles Darwin Room (PRBB)

DATE: Tue 25 Jun 2019 (12:00)

For millennia, sociocultural complexity increased (and occasionally decreased) gradually over many human generations, as people inherited traditional knowledge within their local communities. In the 21st century, however, knowledge is shared across populations and within generations – change is so fast that even younger siblings may experience the world differently from the older siblings. What does all this mean for cultural change in the future? We explore this question by starting with the archaeology and anthropology of how people learned their culture from previous generations: from ancient cave art to the first farming villages thousands of years ago, to the accelerated changes of the 20th century. In older settings, knowledge was shared within populations and across generations, and socio-technological complexity tended to scale with population size. In the 21st century, however, knowledge is transmitted across populations and within generations; sociocultural complexity may not scale with population size in the way it had before. To span these different scales and modes of cultural evolution, different representations are useful, including fitness landscapes and a heuristic representing the transparency of payoffs in social learning. Overall, we discuss how intra-generational change is different in the 21st century, but also the same.

TALK: ”Modeling the Evolutionary Origins and Dynamics of Social Complexity” by Sergey Gavrilets

LOCATION: Ramon y Cajal Room (PRBB)

DATE: Thu 27 Jun 2019 (12:00)

It is now well recognized that understanding modern human behavior, psychology, culture, and certain economic and political processes is hardly possible without also considering factors and processes that were shaping our recent evolution. Deciphering the problems of human origins and subsequent social and cultural evolution requires a concerted effort of researchers from a diverse set of disciplines including biology, anthropology, psychology, economics, and history as well as mathematics and computational science. If we, as scientists, are successful in this endeavor, the societal impact will be enormous. I will illustrate some of my recent modeling work in this area. I will consider the collective action problem in heterogeneous groups, effects of identify fusion on self-sacrifice, the evolution of social norm internalization, and the joint dynamics of power inequality and cooperation.

For more information:

Professor Alex Bentley

Professor Sergey Gavrilets

Agenda PRBB