#TOLOA (The Outer Limits Of Adaptation, December 29, 2019):

Have we over-adapted? How fit are you? Are our adaptive responses often too private? Is any fitness measure also always about the environment? How efficiently do you communicate with the changing environment? Are cultures always born on the boundaries? Can the First World, alone, help the world adapt? Are languages naturally selected? Are more frequent words shorter, & why? Similarly, do smaller organisms adapt, or perish, faster? Why are virus harder to control? Are the adaptive constraints eventually genetic? Or, can entire complex systems sometimes adapt while overcoming the constraints of parts? What is grammar constrained by? Is ideal efficiency often not achieved because of constraints? How are SOVs more prevalent if SVO languages are more ‘efficient’? Is adaptation chance-dependent? Was USA ‘not very far’ from India around 1965? Is human cash a kind of energy-unit? How are ecological and economic models dissimilar? Are most mutations neutral or detrimental? Are elephants at the greatest risk of extinction? What does not adapt? Might the future human beings be shorter and smaller? &, will we ‘radiate’ out of Earth? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from linguistics (Dr. Samar Husain, IIT Delhi, New Delhi), political science (Prof. Sankaran Krishna, University of Hawai’i, Honolulu), & theoretical ecology (Dr. Samraat Pawar, Imperial College, London).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TOLOA show.

Dr. Samar Husain (linguistics) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi, Delhi. His research interests are human sentence processing, natural language parsing, natural language modelling, and dependency grammar. His current research investigates the sources of sentence complexity such as working-memory, orthography, grammatical representation and parsing strategy. In practice, this entails understanding what makes a sentence difficult for humans during real-time comprehension. His research group examines such questions using behavioural, corpus-based as well as computational methods. In addition, he is also interested in building automatic tools that are informed by this research. Dr. Husain completed his Bachelor in Information Technology from Hamdard University (Delhi, 2004), and then received his Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics from IIIT-Hyderabad (Hyderabad, 2011). He was also a Postdoctoral researcher and instructor, at the Vasishth lab, Department of Linguistics, University of Potsdam (Germany). His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as: Journal of Eye Movement Research, Frontiers in Psychology, Linguistic Issues in Language Technology, & Journal of Computational Linguistics and Applications. Dr. Husain has delivered lectures at multiple universities/institutes, including, University of Massachusetts (Amherst, USA), & Haskins Laboratories (New Haven, USA). He has also received multiple grants, including, from, DST- Cognitive Science Research Initiative (Government of India), & Leverhulme Trust (UK).

Prof. Sankaran Krishna (political science) is Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, Honolulu, USA. His research interests are critical international relations, international political economy, South Asian politics, postcolonial studies, and political theory. He completed his B.Sc. (Chemistry) from Loyola College (Chennai), and M.A. (Modern History) from the Center for Historical Studies, JNU, Delhi. He also worked for a short duration as a journalist, and then joined the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (New York), where he completed his Ph.D. in political science with concentrations in comparative politics and international relations. Prof. Krishna has published two books, titled, ‘Globalization and Postcolonialism: hegemony and resistance in the 21st century’ (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), & ‘Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka and the Question of Nationhood’(University of Minnesota Press, 1999). His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as: Third World Quarterly, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Alternatives, Economic and Political Weekly, South Asian Journal, & Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. Prof. Krishna has delivered lectures at multiple universities/institutes, including, Seoul National University, Emory University, & University of Michigan. He also writes articles for popular newspapers/ magazines, such as: Hindu, Hindustan Times, Kafila and The Wire. Prof. Krishna has been awarded the Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching, University of Hawai`i at Manoa, 2008.

Dr. Samraat Pawar (theoretical ecology) is Associate Professor at the Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, UK. His research interests are systems biology, biological scaling, species interaction networks, ecosystem dynamics and functioning, & biological effects of climatic fluctuations. Dr. Pawar completed his B. Sc. in Zoology (University of Pune, 1996), and M. Sc. in Ecology (Saurashtra University, 1999). He then went to University of Texas (Austin, USA) to complete his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior (2009). His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as: Ecology Letters, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Nature Ecology and Evolution, & Journal of Theoretical Biology. Dr. Pawar is a member of British Ecological Society, Ecological Society of America, & the American Society of Naturalists. He has delivered lectures at multiple universities/institutes, including, Santa Fe Institute (New Mexico, USA), University of New England (Maine, USA), University of Warwick, & the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS, Bangalore). Dr. Pawar has received multiple fellowships, including, Harrington Dissertation Fellowship (University of Texas, Austin, 2009), Beijing Complex Systems Summer School scholarship (Santa Fe Institute, USA, 2005), & the McCann Award, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, 1998). He has also received  multiple grants from the UK National Environment Research Council, & from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TOLOA mentions: Charles Darwin, Claude Shannon, Ayn Rand, George Kingsley Zipf, Richard Dawkins, & Jared Diamond, among others.