Raw notes: Henrich (2016) Google Talk – The Secret of Human Success



  • Opening shots
    • Settlers in Australia
      • Left to their own devices, they weren’t able to survive. Their camels’ descendants now roam Australia
    • Human infants vs chimps
      • Chimps are better at all tasks, including tool usage and working memory
      • Human infants were only far better in social learning
  • The cultural evolution model
    • Relatively new
    • Parameters: transmission fidelity, group size, variance
  • Cues for attending to information sources
    • Success. The hunter that returns with the most food gets the most attention
    • Closeness. Kids tend to imitate ±2 years older ones more than expert adults.
    • Secondary: prestige/status cues
    • Cues for accumulated knowledge lead to a parallel hierarchy
  • Forms of knowledge
    • Transmission is quite detailed – e.g. Andes communities dependent on corn have developed
    • Taboos against various fish and seafood in pregnancy
  • Studying technological progress
    • Decompose technologies into components
  • Positive feedback loop between cultural and biological evolution
    • Tools + best practices -> more knowledge to store -> pressure for bigger brain -> better ability to make tools
    • Female pelvis as the bottleneck for head size
  • Forgetting
    • inuit tribe that lost knowledge of kayaks etc. Relearned from other tribes.


Reminds me of

  • Open source culture in programming is crucial to (exponential?) progress in software
  • How can we replicate open source memes in EA?
    • TAP sharing is the basic unit of source code
    • The ability to access, decompose and communicate your mental maps becomes crucial
      • Get rid of the word intuition, replace it with more useful ones
        • Gut feeling
        • ??
  • Hierarchies in
    • The crystal and the fluid
    • Hierarchy vs modular task decomposition
    • The human body
      • There is a fractal nature,
      • Specialization through communication. Cells transmit electrical signals, this leads to differentiation of tissue
  • Computers come with much more precise communication – foom through distributed learning?
  • TAPs
    • Select random from Heroes List every day


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