“Neuronal recycling” – what our brains evolved to do vs what they CAN do – and whither the twain shall meet
The next giant leap in human evolution may not come from new fields like genetic engineering or artificial intelligence, but rather from appreciating our ancient brains.
[…]This mystery mechanism of human transformation is neuronal recycling, coined by neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene, wherein the brain’s innate capabilities are harnessed for altogether novel functions.
Neuronal recycling exploits this wellspring of potent powers. If one wants to get a human brain to do task Y despite it not having evolved to efficiently carry out task Y, then a key point is not to forcefully twist the brain to do Y. Like all animal brains, human brains are not general-purpose universal learning machines, but, instead, are intricately structured suites of instincts optimized for the environments in which they evolved. To harness our brains, we want… Continue reading