Nichola Raihani on How Cooperation Shaped the World—and is the Only Way to Save It
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On Podcast
Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.
In this episode, Andrew is joined by Nichola Raihani, author of The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World, to discuss what makes us human and how our societies work.
From the episode:
Nichola Raihani: I think the key insight that I would offer is that we shouldn’t be complacent, and that we’ve never before faced a challenge on the scale of the climate crisis. And when we look at our ability to solve more immediate, more pressing, arguably easier-to-solve challenges like, for example, the one presented by the current Covid pandemic, things don’t look particularly rosy for us. I mean, we have really struggled to appreciate just how interdependent we are as a species on this planet in the COVID pandemic, and unless we can start to gain a better appreciation of the fact that we’re all interdependent and that we need to devise cooperative solutions that can tackle these global-scale problems, I feel not very optimistic for us.
I realize that’s a a bit depressing. I think we can do it, and I think we’ve shown that we have enormous ingenuity in this realm, in terms of devising institutions that can promote cooperation, that can scale cooperation up. But I think we should also really not be complacent. I don’t think it’s a given that we’re going to do that. There’s no God-given, preordained outcome that our species will have a happy ending.
Nichola Raihani is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor of Evolution and Behaviour at University College London, where she leads the Social Evolution and Behaviour Lab. A biologist by training, she won the 2018 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. Raihani has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s “Hacking the Unconscious” and “Thought Cages.” She lives in London with her family.