Satellite: The Cultural Evolution of Technology: Evidence, Hypothesis and Theory

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Hilton DoubleTree:  Coronado

Satellite Organizers :

Sergi Valverde, University Pompeu Fabra, Spain
Enrico R. Crema, Complexity & Socio-Ecological Dynamics Research Group, Spain
Xavier Rubio-Campillo, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre (BCS), Spain


The evolution of technology is a human-driven parallel experiment of evolution. Although artifacts are not yet capable of self-reproduction, the process of technological change resembles a process of descent with variation and selection. The parallelisms between culture and evolution suggests the existence of common mechanisms and also important differences. Natural innovations are largely the outcome of tinkering and only the elimination of whole branches of the tree of life can restart natural complexity. Technological developments can, in principle, reset the ‘complexity clock’ by introducing new devices from scratch, but the history of technology also shows the relevance of recombination and contingency. The lack of solid measures and definitions is a serious obstacle that requires the integration of theoretical and empirical approaches within an unified framework.



8:30-8:45: Opening Remarks & Introduction
Sergi Valverde, University Pompeu Fabra, Spain

8:45-9:30: TBA
Robert Boyd, Arizona State University, USA

9:30-10:15: TBA
David Krakauer, Santa Fe Institute & Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, USA

10:15-10:45: Break

10:45-11:30: Environmental Risk, Population Size, and Technological Evolution in Small-Scale Societies
Mark Collard, Simon Fraser University, USA

Seriation and Cladistics as Complementary Methods of Measuring Cultural Phylogeny
Mark Madsen, University of Washington, USA
Carl Lipo, California State University Long Beach, USA

11:30-12:15: TBA
Alex Bentley, University of Bristol, UK

12:15-13:30: Lunch

13:30-14:00:  The Diffusion of Products in a Multigroup Environment
Paul Smaldino, University of California, Davis, USA
Marco Janssen, Arizona State University, USA
Vicken Hillis, University of California, Davis, USA
Jenna Bednar, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA

14:00-14:30:  Trait Evolution in Multi-Parental Technology Innovation Networks
Mark Bedau, Reed College, USA
Drew Blount, Reed College, USA
Zackary Dunivin, Reed College, USA
Jacob Menick, Reed College, USA
Aaron Ramcharan, Reed College, USA
Norman Packard, ProtoLife, Inc., USA

14:30-15:00:  Break

15:00-15:30: The Adoption of New Techniques in Variable Environment
Silke Bumann, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany
Xiangyi Li, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany
Arne Traulsen, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Germany

15:30-16:30: Panel Discussion

17:00:  Conclusion