Cultural Evolution – part 1: competition, cooperation, and the human tendency to copy others without knowing it!

Part I of a three part animation series on Cultural Evolution, I created in collaboration with Michael Muthukrishna.

Michael Muthukrishna is an Associate Professor of Economic Psychology at the London School of Economics (LSE). His other affiliations include Associate of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Affiliate of the Developmental Economics Group at STICERD, and Technical Director of The Database of Religious History.
Michael’s research focuses on answering three broad questions: (1) Why are humans so different to other animals? (2) What are the psychological and evolutionary processes that underlie culture and social change, and how is information transmitted, maintained, and modified? (3) How can the answers to these questions be used to tackle some of the challenges we face as a species? He uses a two-pronged methodological approach to answer these questions, combining mathematical and computational modeling (evolutionary models, social network models, etc.), and experimental and data science methods from psychology and economics. He uses the “Theory of Human Behavior” that emerges from this approach to tackle a variety of related topics, including innovation, corruption, the rise of large-scale cooperation, and the navigation of cross-cultural differences.

Elevator Pitch — my 2013 mission

This animated short is my 2013 elevator pitch.
Underlying the content is a theory of learning and a philosophy of education: I believe that each of us constructs what we know (and do) from the ground up. I think of this literally, meaning that by engaging with ideas through conversation and play, we grow fresh connections in our embodied brains. Our habits of inquiry and exploration allow us to adapt to a changing world (and an aging body) and so are essential to a happy and healthy life.

Animated notes to my future self

I created this animated short as my final project in Otto Scharmer’s Sloan School of Management course on Leadership for the emerging future at MIT. It describes my sense-making around the experience of practicing his “Theory U”, particularly in reflecting ON the reflective practices he used in teaching the course.