How Evolutionary Biology Explains Creativity

How many of our friends on Facebook or Twitter are actually posting their own texts and ideas rather than quoting someone else’s? But more importantly, what if we stopped innovating in the real world, becoming more followers than leaders, copiers rather than innovators? Mark Pagel builds statistical models to examine the evolution of our “cultural DNA”, an approach which might provide answers to this question. As he argues in his book “Wired for Culture: The Natural History of Human Cooperation”, our culture has surpassed genes in determining who we are and how we live. Human language is the most evident testament to the uniqueness of our social learning capability among all the living species – it establishes long lasting patterns just like our genes. In the age of Internet and social media, when for the first time in history the size of our social group is basically limitless, how is social learning, and hence the evolution of human nature, changing? Mark Pagel predicts that in the near future the already rare quality of innovation and creative leadership will become even scarcer. In an era when social networks connect a global community, fewer and fewer of us will pay the cost of innovating, and will rather copy someone else’s ideas. Will the internet take us to the biggest creative slowdown in history? At Falling Walls, Pagel addresses an invitation of capital importance: to question our own evolution.

Mark Pagel

University of Reading

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