Meeting Summary: Last year we took on the topic of cumulative culture: a slippery concept that refers to the increasing complexity of human culture over the evolutionary history of our species. Among all the definitions we dissected, error-threshold formulations of cumulative culture seemed to be most promising, but that framework immediately pointed to a gap in knowledge about the mechanisms of cultural inheritance: how is stability achieved in cultural inheritance systems? And at what level of organization(s) is that stability achieved? This year we will carry these discussions forward, with special focus on the information-preserving computations that are performed at the micro-level (cognitive) and macro-level (social) in cultural inheritance systems. We will draw on the expertise of invited participants in computational cognitive science, computational social science, information theory, evolutionary theory, and anthropology. The main goal of the meeting is to provide an open space for exchanging ideas on current issues in cumulative cultural evolution, and discussion of any related topic is welcome. Possible outcomes are an outline for a review of the field, a position paper on new approaches to researching cumulative cultural evolution, and/or novel experimental designs for addressing new questions about cumulative culture. One planned outcome will be a written record of the main lines of discussion, submitted to SFI Press as a record of the meeting.
Collins Conference Room
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