The human mind is a virtual time machine

31 January 2023

Professor Thomas Suddendorf from UQ’s School of Psychology spoke to The Psychologist about how the ability to think about the future has shaped human evolution and psychology.

The article discusses ‘The Invention of Tomorrow’ a book authored by Professor Suddendorf alongside Dr Jonathan Redshaw and Adam Bulley.

Professor Suddendorf said the human mind is a virtual time machine where you can relive past event and imagine future situations even if you have never experienced something similar before.

“Because humans are mental time travellers, we can prepare for opportunities and threats well in advance, trying to shape the future to our own design,” Professor Suddendorf said.

“Early humans increasingly predicted the goings-on in their environments – predators and prey, seasons and storms – until eventually they plotted their way to some level of dominance wherever they went.

“Arguably foresight, the ability to anticipate events and act accordingly, is the most powerful tool at our disposal, even if we often get it terribly wrong.”

Read the article