A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we’ve seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard. My worry is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers.
In this TED talk biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of “social technology” that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
There are currently 7,000 different languages spoken, or 7,000 mutually unintelligible systems of communication in one species… more languages than mammals species. The closer the tribes the more you’ll find variations in language. Humans unlike any other animal can’t communicate with other members of its own species.
Science is a very serious business, so what tickles a rational mind? In a not very scientific experiment, The Guardian asked a sample of scientists for their favorite jokes, including OUP authors Uta Frith, Russell G. Foster, and Mark Pagel.