Cognitive Science colloquium (CBS--Cognitive and Brain Science) lecture, "Play and String Theory: A theory of scientific macroevolution," Dr. Simon De Deo, hosted by Dan Dennett
Monday, October 24th, 2016, 3pm, Cohen Auditorium
Simon De Deo runs the Laboratory for Social Minds at Indiana University, where he is a professor of complex systems and cognitive science. He is also on the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI).
Abstract: Some of our most important scientific activities are conducted in the absence of externally-imposed goals. We believe that releasing investigators from the need to solve immediate problems will drive long-term scientific evolution through the creation of unexpected ideas, new needs to satisfy, and further questions to answer. Yet we lack a common language to discuss these activities, which cover a vast range of timescales and population sizes, from the speculative after-dinner walk at a conference to the global scientific Enlightenment itself. This makes it hard to see the similarities that tie these processes together, the commonalities between the problems they face, or the ways in which we might intervene to assist their flourishing. To help remedy this, I present a new framework for the quantitative study of scientific play, and apply it to an analysis of twenty thousand papers in high-energy physics from the arXiv preprint server. I compare the results of this analysis to a second population-level study, of eighty years of poetry from a major American poetry magazine, and to the work of an exemplar scientist, Charles Darwin, and his interaction with the scientific community as a whole. New information-theoretic methods allow us to see how these different activities confront, and solve, the challenges of perpetual innovation. And they show us how these forms of play lie on a continuum with, and can help inform, more directed, micro-evolutionary scientific processes directed towards the solving of a particular problem or material challenge.
Ray Jackendoff at MIT, March 3rd, 2016: Title: "Morphology in the Mental Lexicon." Place: MIT, 32D-461 (Stata Center). Time: Thursday 3/3, 12:30-1:50