Very quick update -- since being back in the country I'm trying to work on the grant, but I was already committed to talk to Daniel Haun, who looked me up since he was visiting Vienna. I've always enjoyed talking to him because he is smart, but I was surprised this time to find out he is shifting his research much closer to what I am doing here at the KLI. We had some very interesting conversations. He has a new group that is supposed to bridge two MPIs in Germany to study the origins of human cultural variation. So it will be interesting to see what they do in the next five years.
For some reason while I was talking to Daniel I had a huge insight into the presentations I have been doing & am trying to write up, concerning the difference between culture & cultural evolution. I will write about this when I have more time.
Yesterday I also went to the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, to hear a talk about cichlids & to try to talk to one of their senior research scientists about studying sympatric speciation the Baldwin Effect, which is something we're modelling. The scientist was on vacation but I talked to some students & met another scientist, Richard Wagner, and wound up having dinner with the speaker.
Today I will be at my own KLI briefly, then finally go see a KLI I haven't seen yet, where Lorenz actually did a bunch of his goose studies & the wolf & raven projects I've talked about are now. This is really not a KLI but the Konrad Lorenz Research Station -- it is up in some other mountains the other side of Salzburg from where Mom & her friends went. They need to update their banner with a wolf! Anyway, there is a meeting on cognitive science sponsored by the Cognitive Biology group at the University of Vienna, and I will speak there, but more importantly hear what everyone else is doing. I'm just giving my talk "Consciousness is easy but learning is hard" which I first gave in Korea & most recently as part of my Science Cafe in Bath -- it's mostly explaining what is computationally difficult in cognition. Theory of computation results apply to all intelligent systems, not just computers. I will probably update the talk to include a few slides from my most recent work on cultural evolution.
On a less interesting note, I can't figure out why the news is saying Obama has a narrow lead over McCain when the polls currently indicate them at 317 vs 221 of the electoral college votes. I know numbers like that probably won't hold, but how is that lead narrow? I sometimes think the reason elections have been so close lately in America is because close races sell newspapers / commercials.