Tuesday, October 11, 2011



Recent research concerning the welfare of others, etc. affects not only how to think about certain emotions, but also overturns how most models of reciprocity and exchange, with implications about how people think about modern markets, political systems, and societies. What are these new approaches to human motivation?

Edge Master Class 2011
By Leda Cosmides

EdgeVideo (47 minutes)

[LEDA COSMIDES:] Early on as undergraduates, and quite independently, John and I became besotted with two revolutions that were happening. One was the revolution in evolutionary biology, which was showing the sort of thing that Martin was talking about. It was showing us that you could actually have formal models of the evolution of behavior, which was just a marvelous thing. We learned about that. It was like the scales falling from your eyes, it was fantastic.

And then, the second revolution that we became both besotted with was the cognitive revolution, where it looked like you really could have this method of thinking about the mind that was rigorous and would allow you to really understand the connection between the informational environment people were in and what they actually did.

But there was a problem with the meeting of the two of them. One of the problems was that a lot of the most interesting theories in evolutionary biology were about motivation. But at the same time, when the cognitive revolution came along, the study of motivation almost disappeared. It had been a topic in behaviorism, actually, but then the cognitive revolution came and you just didn't hear much about motivation anymore.

We became very interested in the question of how can you think about motivation in a way that's both evolutionary—that takes advantage of these evolutionary theories about behavior—and that's at the same time computational? What would it mean to have a computational approach to motivation? To think about what kinds of computational elements are necessary to think about motivation. ...[MORE]

LEDA COSMIDES is a Professor of Psychology and Co-director (with John Tooby) of Center for Evolutionary Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara

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In July, EDGE held its annual Master Class in St. Helena, California on the theme: "The Science of Human Nature".  In a six week period that began September 12th, we are publishing the complete video, audio, and texts: Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on the evolution of cooperation; Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the history of violence; UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on the architecture of motivation;  UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on neuroscience and the law; and Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation. For publication schedule and details, go to:


Perspective. Innovation that matters. Science of consequences. Subjects: knowledge economy and happiness, social media and information ecology, value and vision

(Google Translation:) Edge is a fantastic group of people who reflect the future we are building. It manifests itself in a rich site of lectures, debates and essays that go to explore the fascinating dimensions of contemporary intellectual life, and organizes conferences and lectures live and supports participants who are writing a book on their subject. The soul of John Brockman's Edge. Which is now also managed to publish some books that collect some of the most interesting essays in the group. The first that I have in hand are Culture and Mind .

John Brockman works in New York, in an office that opens on the square where the 5 comes on the corner of Central Park Avenue. For those who are going to find in summer, the experience is physically as well as intellectually challenging. The air conditioning creates the atmosphere of the interior of a refrigerator. The silence is complete.

"We come here to reflect. If we do that we need to communicate via the Internet, even from one room to another. We spend days without saying anything. But the exchange of ideas is endless."It's pretty rich. Brockman lives by literary agent and many of its authors have become real bestsellers thanks to its capacity.

These days he is working with his oldest colleagues, Stewart Brand at the top (the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the author of famous phrase "stay hungry stay foolish" by Steve Jobs mentioned in hisspeech at Stanford), is working on the annual big question as always result in a vigorous debate early next year. The two books with which they are proposing Brockman's Edge important collections of essays on the concepts of "culture" and "mind." Culture, opens with an essay by Daniel Dennett, who plays the key concept in "evolutionary". Continues with Jared Diamond that question "why some societies make decisions disastrous." Denis Dutton is working on a vision of "Darwinian evolution of human personality." Stewart Brand plays his famous essay in which she argues that "we are as gods and we must learn to be good at this task." Many other essays. Among these, David Gelernter , with its "Time to seriously deal with the Internet" (2010).Gelernter says that the Internet is not an argument like mobile phones and game consoles: an argument type education. And if it is so important we must begin to devote to really understand it.

The book dedicated to the culture also contains outstanding essays by Jaron Lanier, Clay Shirky, Nicholas Christakis, Douglas Rushkoff, Evgeny Morozov, Brian Arthur, Richard Foreman, Frank Schirrmacher, Daniel Hillis. Culture and mind. Difficult to choose the most complex issues and charmed. Because they allow simultaneously to reflect on humanity and the science of what we know about ourselves and the way we know something about us.

The culture and mind appear in the pages of Edge in size connected by a common metaphor. The network. The culture emerges from the network of connections between the brains that are in turn networks of neurons: a digital network that extends the power of the brain network. The consequences of this metaphor are very rich. And of course, are addressed by the Edge with the enthusiasm of one who falls in love with scientific hypotheses but constantly submit to verification.And when the verification is sound enough to communicate with the joy of having contributed to knowledge of all.

John Brockman has managed to achieve something very rare. His group poses problems philosophically, scientifically, humanly huge, with the lightness of one who is aware that not many intellectual circles around the world have the courage to raise the problem as clearly and with such competence. What emerges is a system among other generous to all audiences: the dedication of its authors Brockman and supplies access to knowledge and thought fine, popular free online. It must be said that this generosity of the Edge is repaid by the generosity of the public to the authors when they publish their books.



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