Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Multiple types of mechanism for the evolution of skills

We know that there is one or more types of mechanism that is not genomic, since humanity developed languages and different forms of writing without major variants in the genome. Immigrants and their children show that languages and writing methods can be changed without changes in the genome. Some people change careers by learning new skills.

Tentatively I propose five distinct mechanisms:

  1. The first is genomic copying, where the mother's and the father's skills are combined through their genomic representation into the skills of the offspring.
  2. The second a mimicry-based evolution of skills, where offspring learn by imitating the observed skilled behaviour of parents or other members of the parent polulation. This probably applies to all species within our range of interest.
  3. The third is a sound / speech / story based method for copying skills. The skilled action is not acted out and imitated but rather is described. This may not apply to pre-human species.
  4. The fourth method is based on reading and writing and the transport of manuscripts or books. Most of our formal schooling would fit into this method.
  5. The fifth method involves computer-aided or augmented tasks. Part of the skill is encoded in the computer, and both the human component and the computer component undergo systematic changes and improvements through updates, new versions, or new software applications where the human has to learn and adapt his or her computer-usage skills.

The research project will focus on the first three sets of distinct mechanisms that apply to pre-human species and early humans. We build theories and simulation models to show how skills might evolve with these three mechanisms. In terms of human maturation, this takes us to the beginning of learning to read and write, so only up to the age of six or so.

Allocation of skills and functions to the distinct mechanisms?

I hypothesize that any given skill or function belongs to a single mechanism. For instance, the basic ability to imitate anothers action sequence based on direct and simultaneous visual observation, i.e. mimicry, must be an innate skill. Similarly, the function of learning from from that mimicry, i.e. converting the mimicked action into a skill, must be innate.

I conjecture that all types of mechanisms are simultaneously active in the species to which they pertain.