By winnowing the literature of anthropology, Donald E Brown collected a list of some 200 ‘human universals’. Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate” includes an alphabetical version of the full list, but I think trying to re-sort it in ‘evolutionary’ order should be more instructive:
environment, adjustments to
binary cognitive distinctions
likes and dislikes
The list goes on like that for hundreds of lines, and on that point alone it deserves notice. But consider the implications here for creators.
If you’re telling a story, any mix of these traits would allow you to develop a convincing society. If you’re working in interactive, figuring out which of these traits you can simulate would give you a subset of useful traits, and a logical way to create machine-controlled races/species.
— Mark Barrett