Mouse on a hill: The structure and function of agency (Ep 65)


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What is agency? How does it evolve? Do non-living things have agency?

On this episode of Big Biology, we talk with Tufts University professor Michael Levin about his recent article in Aeon magazine called ‘Cognition all the way down’. In it, Mike and Dan Dennett discuss the phenomenon of agency and what it means for biology, basic to medical. We discuss with Mike what it means to be an agent - whether you’re a metabolite, a cell, or a human - and how agency affects and is affected by evolution. We discuss how agents at different levels of organization influence each other, how agency research could change our thinking about the ethics of artificial intelligence, and how the internet has expanded collective human agency by broadening our cognitive horizons.

If you missed our first chat with Mike on the role of bioelectric fields in development, tissue regeneration, and evolution, check that out here.

Photo: Douglas Blackiston and Sam Kriegman

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