Simon DeDeo Lecture

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We are drawn to the new, the unusual, the unexpected: what we could not predict on the basis of what came before. As vast archives of our cultural past and present go online, scientists can now break out of the laboratory to see how novelty, innovation and creativity are both made and received in the real world.

To track these crucial forms of human experience, Simon DeDeo will introduce simple but powerful concepts from information theory, using examples from Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. Through collaborative case studies ranging from the speeches of the French Revolution and papers in high-energy physics to the online arguments of ‘Wikipedians’ and Breitbart commenters, he will show how these tools allow us to ask, and answer, two basic questions: Where do new ideas come from? And how do we respond when they arrive?

Simon DeDeo is assistant professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. He runs the institute’s Laboratory for Social Minds, whose collaborative work appears in journals ranging from Physical Review to Cognition and PLOS Computational Biology.

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