Skip to content Skip to menu

Experimental Psychology Seminar

Dr Kit Opie

Department of Anthropology
University College London

Major Transition? We’ve seen it all before.

Two evolutionary biologists, John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary, have identified eight major evolutionary transitions in the way information is stored and transmitted from one generation to the next since life on Earth began, 4 billion years ago. From the common features of these transitions, the last of which was the evolution of human society and language, they argue that two human inventions rank as major transitions too. Writing, invented five thousand years ago, brought about large scale human societies. Computer technology is driving the current transition and the changes that it is bringing are every bit as transformative as the previous ones. I first test the applicability of the common features of the transitions to the invention of writing and its impact on human societies. I then use the transition features to start to make some predictions about the impact that computer technology may now be having on human society, culture and cognition.

The host for the seminar will be Daniel Richardson ()

Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend.

Future talks in the EP seminar series can be found at: