Dr Wataru Toyokawa

UK Host Institution: University of Exeter
Project status

The Role of Innovation and Social Institution in Human Technological Evolution

Innovations in technological complexity and usability that ratchet up over generations, sometimes called cumulative cultural evolution, are a fundamental driving force of human social evolution. However, not all innovations have the same impact. Some are key innovations, generating opportunities for the creation and spread of further innovations. Others are incremental improvements that do not dramatically change the functions of technology but may improve its reliability and create a scaffold on which new key innovations can be introduced. Furthermore, some technologies may regulate human cooperative behaviour by changing the incentive structure of social interactions, influencing future cooperative investments in technological innovations.

Despite longstanding research activity, there is still poor understanding of how such major and minor innovations interact to shape cultural evolutionary dynamics, and how innovations regulate, and are regulated by, collective action problems. To address these questions, I will combine agent-based modelling with large-scale online behavioural experimentation with human participants.

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