Re: Aunger speaks, London 11th November

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Tue 05 Nov 2002 - 15:38:47 GMT

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    >Autumn Term 2002
    >11th November
    >4-6pm. Institute of Archaeology
    >Room 612
    >AHRB Centre for the Evolutionary Analysis of Cultural
    >Major transitions in technology
    >Dr. Rober Aunger
    >Cambridge University
    > Abstract
    > In this lecture, I ask the question 'How did
    >physical objects become so complex?' To answer this
    >question, I use a recent theory developed to explain
    > long-term biological evolution: major transition
    >theory (MTT; Maynard Smith and Szathmary 1995). MTT is
    >primarily concerned with identifying and
    > analyzing discontinuities in the way evolution
    >works. These transitions change the nature of the game
    >Nature is playing - they are changes in the process
    > of evolution itself. This is because new levels of
    >organization (like cells or multicellular organisms)
    >arise which change the way in which information is
    > transmitted or stored for transmission into the
    >future. Using this theory, I discuss technological
    >advances that introduce significant developments in
    > ability of artifacts to manage information. The
    >number of inventions that qualify turns out to be
    >rather small - although they cover the whole globe and
    > millions of years of time. The transitions
    >identified range from early tools (the first artifacts
    >to store information outside the brain), to cave
    >paintings (the
    > first artifacts to accommodate iconic
    >representations of information), to astronomical
    >monuments like Stonehenge (the first artifacts to
    > information), to computers (the first artifacts to
    >perform symbolic manipulations of information). I
    >conclude by discussing the implications of this view
    >technological history.
    That sounds like a great project. I'd be interested in reading it when it's finished.


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