RadicalxChange(s)

James Evans: Computational Social Scientist, Knowledge Lab Director, and Professor at Uchicago

Episode Summary

In this conversation with James A. Evans, we examine the relationship between artificial intelligence and democracy, the tradeoffs between hybridization and speciation, and much more.

Episode Notes

In this conversation with James A. Evans,  we examine the relationship between artificial intelligence and democracy, the tradeoffs between hybridization and speciation, and much more.

James is a professor at the University of Chicago, director of its Knowledge Lab, and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the collective system of thinking and knowing, ranging from the distribution of attention and intuition, the origin of ideas and shared habits of reasoning to processes of agreement (and dispute), accumulation of certainty (and doubt), and the texture—novelty, ambiguity, topology—of understanding. James is especially interested in innovation—how new ideas and practices emerge—and the role that social and technical institutions (e.g., the Internet, markets, collaborations) play in collective cognition and discovery. Much of his work has focused on areas of modern science and technology. Still, he is also interested in other knowledge domains—news, law, religion, gossip, hunches, machine and historical modes of thinking and knowing. He supports the creation of novel observatories for human understanding and action through crowdsourcing, information extraction from text and images, and the use of distributed sensors (e.g., RFID tags, cell phones). He uses machine learning, generative modeling, social and semantic network representations to explore knowledge processes, scale up interpretive and field methods, and create alternatives to current discovery regimes.

Before Chicago, he received his doctorate in sociology from Stanford University, served as a research associate in the Negotiation, Organizations, and Markets group at Harvard Business School, started a private high school focused on project-based arts education, and completed a B. A. in Anthropology at Brigham Young University.