We live in a world so complicated and immense it challenges our comparably simple minds to even know which information we should use to make decisions. The human brain seems tuned to follow simple rules, and those rules change depending on the people we can turn to for support: when we decide to follow the majority or place our trust in experts, for example, depends on the networks in which we’re embedded. Consequently, much of learning and decision-making has as much or more to do with social implications as it has to do with an objective world of fact…and this has major consequences for the ways in which we come together to solve complex problems. Whether in governance, science, or private life, the strategies we lean on — mostly unconsciously — determine whether we form wise, effective groups, or whether our collective process gets jammed up with autocrats or bureaucrats. Sometimes the crowd is smarter than the individual, and sometimes not, and figuring out which strategies are better requires a nuanced look at how we make decisions with each other, and how information flows through human networks. Given the scale and intensity of modern life, the science of our social lives takes on profound importance.
This week’s guest is SFI Professor & Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics Mirta Galesic, External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, and Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. In this episode we talk about her research into how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce complex social phenomena…and how we can understand and cope with the uncertainty and complexity inherent in many everyday decisions.
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Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.
Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.
Visit Mirta’s Google Scholar Page for links to all the papers we discuss.
Mirta’s 2015 talk at SFI: “How interaction of mind and environment shapes social judgments.”
Digital Transformation documentary about Mirta and her work.
Michelle Girvan’s SFI Community Lecture on reservoir computing.
Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.
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