How Humans Learned to See the Future with Byron Reese


What makes the human mind unique? How do we know there’s a future, and how do we recall the past? In this episode of This Anthro Life, Byron Reese, serial entrepreneur, technologist, and author of “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future--and Shape It,” discusses these questions and more with host Adam Gamwell. Together, Byron and Adam explore the three leaps in human history that made us what we are today and how those leaps changed how we think about the future, the past, and everything in between.

Show Highlights:

[03:16] The inception of “Stories, Dice, and Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future--and Shape It”
[05:23] Homo erectus and the Acheulean hand axe
[06:38] How the Acheulean hand axe is a genetic object, not a cultural one
[08:27] The awakening that ancient humans had undergone
[09:27] Language as a means to conceptualize the future and gain knowledge of the past
[13:02] The four things that all languages have
[16:01] How humans’ group action became more than just the sum of its parts
[18:57] A superorganism named Agora as a metaphor for how people working together can get more done
[24:06] How the probability theory helps us understand how we imagine the future
[24:37] The probability problem
[28:01] How there is predictability in randomness
[34:33] The human body as a superorganism
[36:30] The problem with data in artificial intelligence
[41:48] Galton’s regression to the mean and eugenics as a cautionary tale
[44:59] Eternal vigilance as the price of current and future technological advancements
[47:04] Why humans are not machines
[50:05] The 21st purpose of telling stories, according to Byron
[52:32] Closing statements