Many Minds | 1 June 2023 | 0h 56m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Eleanor Scerri and Manuel Will about their paper The revolution that still isn’t: The origins of behavioral complexity in Homo sapiens. Discusses the history of the cognitive revolution model. Sets out the evidence that there was no cognitive revolution—no one watershed moment in time and space. Argues that the origins of modern human cognition and culture are to be found not in one part of Europe but across Africa and much earlier than the classic picture suggests.
Many Minds | 8 March 2023 | 0h 55m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Suzana Herculano-Houzel about her paper Theropod dinosaurs had primate-like numbers of telencephalic neurons. Backgrounds that the most revealing thing about a brain is not how big it is or how big it is relative to the body, but simply how many neurons it has. Argues a T-Rex’s brain was comparable to a baboon’s so that it was probably quite behaviorally flexible and long-lived and may even have had culture.
Many Minds | 25 January 2023 | 0h 55m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Murray Shanahan about his paper Talking about Large Language Models. Argues that it’s not appropriate to talk about large language models in anthropomorphic terms. Discusses the rapid rise of large language models and the basics of how they work; how a model that simply does “next-word prediction” can be engineered into a savvy chatbot like ChatGPT; why ChatGPT lacks genuine “knowledge” and “understanding”; and what it might take for these models to eventually possess richer, more human-like capacities.
Many Minds | 19 October 2022 | 1h 01m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Mark Miller about the predictive processing framework for cognition. Discusses how this approach can inform our understanding of depression, addiction, and PTSD; sketches notions of loops and slopes, stickiness and rigidity, wobble and volatility, edges and grip; also touches on video games, play, horror, psychedelics, and meditation.
See also the Sean Carroll’s Mindscape episode Andy Clark on the Extended and Predictive Mind.
Many Minds | 14 December 2022 | 0h 58m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Karen Bakker about her book The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants. Discusses the twin fields of “bioacoustics” and “ecoacoustics”, why sound is such a ubiquitous signalling medium across the tree of life, why scientific discoveries about sound have often been resisted, whether animal communication systems constitute languages, efforts to decode those systems using AI.
Many Minds | 17 August 2022 | 1h 08m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Marina Bedny about her research on the way that blindness shapes our brains. Discusses how people who have been blind since birth nonetheless develop rich, sophisticated understandings of the visual world; how the visual cortex in blind folks gets repurposed for non-visual functions, like language; that blind people often outperform sighted people in certain kinds of tasks; and more.
Many Minds | 27 April 2022 | 1h 34m | Listen Later | Podcasts | Spotify
Interview with Kristin Andrews and Susana Monsó discussing the study of animal minds in general and the animal morality debate in particular. Covers rats and empathy; the role of philosophy in the cross-disciplinary study of animal cognition; how scientists are trained to study animals; animals’ understandings of death; whether animals should be considered moral beings; and the connection between social norms and morality.
Many Minds | 1 February 2022 | 0h 46m | Listen Later | iTunes | Spotify
Interview with Jeremy DeSilva about when and why human brains decreased in size. Describes the research to establish that human brain size decreased about 3,000 years ago. Discusses the possible explanations, including one by analogy with social insects, that brain size decreased, reducing the energy cost, with the externalisation of knowledge in human societies.