Aarhus University Seal

Talks by Uta Frith and Chris Frith

"Trust, diversity and social media" and "The evolution of mentalising"

Info about event


Tuesday 12 September 2017,  at 11:00 - 13:00


IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312

Further explorations into our social nature

UF: Trust, diversity and social media

Social media have given us a number of problems we hardly know how to deal with, and yet they are old problems stemming from our social nature. We create bubbles by wanting to be with people who are like us. We trust the familiar and fear the unfamiliar. We only read the news that fit in with our worldview. Echo chambers give the illusion that messages with the same content come from multiple independent sources. Further, we prefer emotionally loaded opinions given with great confidence that dangerously overshadow rational arguments presented by experts. Diversity is our main weapon to counter these threats, but we resent having to give up the comfort of familiarity and we still have to learn how to communicate with each other without polarising opinions.

CDF: The evolution of mentalising

Mentalising (aka Theory of Mind) is a sophisticated mechanism for predicting what people are going to do next on the basis of their hidden mental states. Such predictive mechanisms are particularly important in competitive situations. However, competition, e.g. between predators and prey, can be observed in many species that do not show any evidence of mentalising. I will explore the idea that, in order to predict what others will do next, we need a model of their decision-making processes. This results in an evolutionary arms race in which a recursive hierarchy of models is generated; each model emerging to predict the behaviour of the previous model. The ability to mentalise is the most recent stage in this arms race. I want to explore the very earliest stages of the race, which began when self-propelled organism first emerged. I look forward to advice on how to do this.