Montana EvoTech Research Group

Welcome to Evo Tech

Humans are a technological species. Over the last 3 million years our evolution has been profoundly shaped by the things we make and use, which in turn have been impacted by the cultural abilities that humans possess. While we can no longer claim that either technology or culture is unique to humans, we do know that human abilities in these two areas are more complex than those of other species. Our cultural capacity allows us to store and transmit the knowledge and skills necessary to refine and innovate technologies, and in doing so to build on the advances made by the countless generations that have gone before us.

Researchers now see that human biology and culture are complexly connected, and that we can often understand the evolution of both culture and technology as processes that have analogies in biological evolution. This enables researchers to use theory and methods drawn from the biological sciences in order to understand cultural and technological change, and provides a powerful interdisciplinary approach to the study of human evolution. 

Here at the Montana EvoTech Research Group we begin with just such a perspective in order to develop computational strategies for understanding technological change. Our group members have backgrounds in anthropology, computer science, economics, psychology, and mathematics and are working on a variety of exciting projects. These projects include tracing the movement of simulated populations across evolutionary landscapes, examining how innovations are formed and how they spread through human populations as a result of environmental change, and looking at how human socio-cultural practices impact rates of technological innovation and loss. In short, we look at how variation, adaptation, chance, and time all come together to create (and sometime hinder!) technological complexity. 

You can learn more by visiting the research page on our website, and you can see code for many of our current projects by visiting our GitHub repository.