【TED】是一个会议的名称,它是英文technology,entertainment, design三个单词的首字母缩写。它是社会各界精英交流的盛会,这里有当代最杰出的思想家,这里有当代最优秀的科学家,这里有迸发着最闪耀的思想火花,这里孕育着最光辉的梦想。
Mark Pagel
Using biological evolution as a template, Mark Pagel wonders how languages evolve.


visual theft
But in fact, it turns out that some time around 200,000 years ago, when our species first arose and acquired social learning, that this was really the beginning of our story, not the end of our story. Because our acquisition of social learning would create a social and evolutionary dilemma, the resolution of which, it's fair to say, would determine not only the future course of our psychology, but the future course of the entire world. And most importantly for this, it'll tell us why we have language. And the reason that dilemma arose is, it turns out, that social learning is visual theft. If I can learn by watching you, I can steal your best ideas, and I can benefit from your efforts, without having to put in the time and energy that you did into developing them. If I can watch which lure you use to catch a fish, or I can watch how you flake your hand axe to make it better, or if I follow you secretly to your mushroom patch, I can benefit from your knowledge and wisdom and skills, and maybe even catch that fish before you do. Social learning really is visual theft. And in any species that acquired it, it would behoove you to hide your best ideas, lest somebody steal them from you.
实际上,大约二十万年前,当我们的祖先开始直立行走,并获得社会学习的能力,这的确是故事的开始,而不是结束。因为社会学习能力的获得会令社会和进化陷入一个进退两难的地步,其解决方法不但决定了未来人类心理的轨迹,也决定了整个世界的未来走向。最重要的是,它告诉我们为什么我们有语言。 两难局面的出现是因为社会学习实际是一种观察性窃取。如果我可以通过观察你而学习,我就可以窃取你最好的想法,从你的努力中坐收渔利,而不用像你一样投入时间和精力去开发想法。如果我可以观察你用什么饵钓鱼,如何削薄手斧、改进它,或者偷偷跟踪你去你的蘑菇地,我就可以从你的知识、智慧和技能中获益,甚至在你之前就抓走鱼。社会学习确实是种观察性窃取。任何具备该能力的物种必然都会隐藏自己最好的点子,以防别人偷走。