The Culture of Computers

you i i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” – Bob, Facebook Chatbot

Culture is a weird thing for humans and the few animals who exhibit it. As biologists have explored the animal kingdom for longer and more continuous periods, our understanding of what culture is and what culture isn’t is being pushed by our many case studies in creatures ranging from chimpanzees to chickadees. What progress has been made is in our understanding of culture as a far more mechanical, rigid, and adaptive process than we could have ever anticipated. Like in genetics, the transfer of information is the basis of culture, and the recapitulation of genetic patterns of transmission onto cultural ones only highlights that information theory, as applied in our understanding of dual inheritance, is a unifying theme between the two. An understanding of genetics can help us understand what culture is and what culture isn’t, as can an understanding of any other type of information transfer, especially in the realm of communication, especially in the realm of artificial intelligence. Continue reading “The Culture of Computers”

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Advice for Incoming Graduate Students

I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning drinking coffee and trying to narrow down which graduate programs I am going to be applying to this fall. We all know this is a stressful process, even more so for me right now since I have to do it again. Leaving my previous graduate program was ultimately a good decision, although through my frustrations have me thinking about how I might have done things differently at the beginning if I knew going into graduate school what I know now.

I’m going to give new and incoming grad students, the people who are crazy enough and fortunate enough to have the ability to go to graduate school, some unsolicited advice. Feel free to take it or leave it, these are mostly just based on things I learned both the hard and easy ways.

Continue reading “Advice for Incoming Graduate Students”

“The Selfish Nature of Human Cooperation” Re: Punishment Games

I was recently given the opportunity by the kind folks at Areo Magazine to publish a few opinions of mine on the nature of human cooperation titled, “The Selfish Nature of Human Cooperation,” which you can find in a link at the bottom of this post.

The article, which is about a 9 minute read, argues that most of the time when anthropologists et al align cooperation with some sort of moral good, we fail to take into account the mechanisms by which cooperation is maintained and what the purpose of cooperation is. Since I decided to soft-dox myself by publishing it under my real name, I don’t want to get into too many polemics on who this piece though.

Target audience aside, the article had some good feedback, but I wanted to address a point made by Siberian Fox (@SilverVVulpes on Twitter).

siberian fox

Continue reading ““The Selfish Nature of Human Cooperation” Re: Punishment Games”