Talk: Evolution of Memory

I presented the following at University of Maryland, College Park, 30 Oct 2017. It summarises three papers with constructive feedback on where to improve their methodology.

The bottom line is simple: we know memory is fallible and that we evolved this sort of memory mechanism rather than just a purely rigidly veridical mechanism — the question is why evolve a seemingly imperfect mechanism?

Abstract: The following three approaches show that updating information in novel situations (rather than a well-defined niche) differentiates the distinctly human form of memory from that which non-human agents possess: we need to update information as time passes and as social arrangements change (not so much the environment in which we must survive and reproduce, but rather, in the uniquely human terrain or social landscape, ie. regarding what is “due” others as well as, or, more importantly, what is “due” us in particular). Rigid memory serves us well (and we seem to possess this just as non-human animals do, in cases such as locating resources ); but it breaks down in social interactions when we must perform so-called moral book-keeping to disentangle our ever-changing social obligations (and, more saliently, what others owe us — as human memory has an ego-driven, self-knowing, meta-representational character).

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