There’s an interesting MIT talk on the major transitions in the evolution of cognition from Yale statistician and data scientist Andrew Barron on Feb 25 from 4-5 pm US ET. Unfortunately I’ll be in a meeting and can’t attend but wanted to share in case anyone might like to listen in!
Recent findings in comparative cognition seem to have confused rather than clarified our understanding of the evolution of cognition. In a world of algebraic bees and smart slime moulds is there any pattern to the evolution of cognitive capacity? Maynard Smith and Szathmary famously provided a framework for understanding the grand scheme of biological evolution by positing a few major transitions - such as the origins of chromosomes and multicellular life – which enabled radically different forms of life, new evolutionary options and increased evolvability. Here we propose that the evolution of cognition can also be comprehended as a series of major transitions: each transition being a qualitative change in the structure of information flow within systems. These transitions enabled new types of cognitive capacity while transforming the scope of existing cognitive abilities. Here we present each transition in term of system organization. We discuss the capacities enabled by each transition, and the consequences of this perspective for our understanding of the evolution of cognition and the diversity of animal intelligences.
Please use the following Zoom link to attend: