In Search of Human Cognition: The Evolved Algorithms Hypothesis

Over the past 20 years, experimental evidence has been quietly mounting for a counterintuitive new picture of the way our minds work.

This hypothesis, which my colleagues and I term the Evolved Algorithms Hypothesis, makes a number of claims: that our minds bear the strong imprint of our evolutionary past, that most of our motivational and decision-making machinery operates outside conscious awareness, that our rationalizations of our actions are mostly after-the-fact and not predictive of our behavior. (Academic researchers working in this paradigm include Leda Cosmides, John Tooby, Joshua Tenenbaum, Tom Griffiths, Michael Gazzaniga, Joseph LeDoux, Michael Tomasello, Robert Trivers, C. Randy Gallistel.)

In this talk I'll present some of the key experiments that lend support to the Evolved Algorithms Hypothesis. I'll then describe what this hypothesis implies about our cognitive architecture, and ask what this new science might make possible.

Shaun Martin is the cofounder & CEO of Applied Cognitive Science. He previously held lecturing and research positions at MIT and at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He has a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University. @shaunmartin


Wednesday 22 June 2016


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