KLI Colloquia are informal, public talks that are followed by extensive dissussions. Speakers are KLI fellows or visiting researchers who are interested in presenting their work to an interdisciplinary audience and discussing it in a wider research context. We offer three types of talks:

1. Current Research Talks. KLI fellows or visiting researchers present and discuss their most recent research with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

2. Future Research Talks. Visiting researchers present and discuss future projects and ideas togehter with the KLI fellows and the Vienna scientific community.

3. Professional Developmental Talks. Experts about research grants and applications at the Austrian and European levels present career opportunities and strategies to late-PhD and post-doctoral researchers.

  • The presentation language is English.
  • If you are interested in presenting your current or future work at the KLI, please contact the Scientific Director or the Executive Manager.

Event Details

Eörs Szathmáry
KLI Colloquia
Learning and Evolution
Eörs SZATHMÁRY (KLI & Parmendies Foundation & Institute of Evolution)
2022-11-17 15:00 - 2022-11-17 16:30
Organized by KLI
You are invited to a Zoom meeting. 
When: Nov 17, 2022 03:00 PM Vienna 
Register in advance for this meeting:

Topic description / abstract:

Both evolution and learning are known to produce (sometimes spectacular) adaptive solutions. One can rightfully ask whether these processes might share some common features, and whether they can help each other, possibly in the form of one being a "subroutine" in the other and vice versa.

Learning in evolution: Recent models inform us that ecosystem evolution and evolution of genetic regulatory networks (so important in development) can partly be best understood as learning processes. Features like Hebbian change in coupling terms, memory capacity, forgetting and graceful degradation all come into play. These investigations are complemented by the proposals that the Bayesian update rule is analogous to the discrete-time replicator equation and that evolving replicator populations can learn about grammatical classes. I shall give examples of these processes. 

Evolution in learning: This is the flip side of the coin. The idea that something like evolution by natural selection might go on in the brain is not new. Neurobiology saw some eminent attempts to validate this claim, but previous proposals are merely selectionist rather than truly evolutionary. In order to advance in the latter direction one must demonstrate some form of replication, even though neurons do not reproduce. I shall discuss how this might work. 


Biographical note:

Eörs Szathmáry (1959) is a Hungarian theoretical and evolutionary biologist, best known for his continued work on the comparative and theoretical aspects of the major evolutionary transitions. The theme was set by a book that he published together with the late John Maynard Smith in 1995. This monograph and the subsequent popular book have were published in a dozen countries. Google finds about 150 thousand hits for the “major transition” AND “evolution”. In addition, Szathmáry studies replicator theory, the relationship between learning and evolution, the question of minimal life and the conditions for open-ended evolution. He is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, EMBO, the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters as well as Academia Europaea.