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Major transitions in evolution: when is the next one?

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 28th January 2021 / Online event
Type: Webinar / Category: Department
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How do we understand the changes currently taking place in society? Two evolutionary biologists, John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary, identified eight major evolutionary transitions in the way information is stored and transmitted from one generation to the next since life on Earth began 4 million years ago. From the common features of these transitions, the last of which was the evolution of human society and language, they argue that two human inventions rank as major transitions too. They argue that writing, which was invented five thousand years ago, brought about large-scale human societies, and computer technology is driving the current transition and the changes that it is bringing are every bit as transformative as the previous ones. In this talk, Dr Kit Opie from the University of Bristol will ask: within this evolutionary framework, can research in the social sciences and humanities help us understand the impact these major transitions are having on cooperation? And can an evolutionary perspective help us start to make some predictions about the impact that computer technology may now be having on human society, culture and cooperation?