Daniel Wolpert - The Real Reason for Brains

I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not for feeding zombies... but it's also not "for" thinking either because brains evolved long before any organism developed the ability to think and reason. So, while thinking is a great adaptation of the brain, it's not exactly its original raison d'ĂȘtre.

In the following fascinating and amusing TEDTalk presentation, Daniel Wolpert argues that brains evolved to control movement. Don't believe me? Well, is it just coincidence that the only animal in the world who eats its own brain, the sea squirt, does it only after it's found a permanent abode? Probably not...

Anyway, the most interesting part of the presentation is when Wolpert provides a nice introduction to Bayesian probability theory, and then makes a convincing argument that this is how brains learn how to produce behavior and beliefs. As you may already be able to imagine, this provides a great starting point for those working on artificial intelligence and robotics.


Now, if you want to investigate the evolution of the thinking mind (beyond the sea squirt), you could start by reading this fascinating primer on evolutionary psychology by Leda Cosmedis and John Tooby.
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