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Jan Verpooten

Jan Verpooten

Title: From DNA to AI: Evolution of information in the Anthropocene

Panel title: What does it mean to apply evolutionary thinking into the research of Anthropocene?

Participants: Tomi Kokkonen, Dirk Vanderbeke & Jan Verpooten

Abstract: Life on Earth can be perceived as an information processing system, acquiring, storing, transmitting, and processing data about its surroundings. This process may have begun in a world of self-replicating RNA molecules, expanded to intra-individual neural networks (e.g., brains) within evolving organisms (the 'vehicles’ of DNA), and further to inter-individual social networks. Importantly, this informational expansion has also reached into the inorganic environment via niche construction, artifact creation, and ultimately, through the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Within this framework, the term Anthropocene refers to the accelerating and ravenous expansion of information in the human technological realm. This expansion could risk the partial (e.g., biodiversity loss) or even near total loss of information (mass extinction) acquired on Earth over billions of years, but, at the same time, holds a lot of future potential.

Bio: Jan Verpooten is a researcher in the Behavioral Engineering Research Center at KU Leuven in Belgium. He holds a double PhD in philosophy and biology and has mainly published on evolutionary aesthetics and cultural evolution.