6.803 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

The Human Intelligence Enterprise

Schedule of Activities

Tattersall finds symbolic species; Lettvin finds bug detector


“An Evolutionary Framework for the Acquisition of Symbolic Cognition by Homo sapiens” (PDF) by Ian Tattersall

“What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain” (PDF) by J. Y. Lettvin, H. R. Maturana, W. S. McCulloch, and W. H. Pitts

Just read I.A and VIII, about 2 pages, to get the flavor of what Lettvin discovered about frogs.

If you wish, you may use these papers as an amnesty substitution for some prior assignment you have not yet done. Identify that assignment, do the work indicated, but use these papers rather than the ones originally assigned.

Otherwise, you do not have to write anything in any form. Just think about the following:

Over spring break, you have two nightmares. In one, you are Jerry Lettvin, and you have forgotten to prepare for a 6.803 guest lecture on your frog paper. You have only 15 minutes left to put something together. It occurs to you to structure your talk according to the V-S-N-C (Vision-Steps-News-Contributions) mantra, decorated with a slogan, symbol, salient, and surprise.

In the other, you are Ian Tattersall, having dinner with President Reif. He asks you how AI research should be informed by paleoanthropology.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments