Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cooperation as an evolutionary strategy

Interesting article over at NYT about how cooperation can lead to more adaptive behavior across a population, even (if I'm not reading too much into the article) if it sometimes leads to individuals being taken advantage of. Add in reputation effects, and the effect becomes more pronounced, and you get small tightly-knit 'communities' of cooperators, even if there's also a lot of noncooperation going on around them.

It's an interesting idea, and it certainly makes sense. (It also explains, to a degree, how cooperation breaks down during periods of strife. The risk of being taken advantage of is greater, and the payoff doesn't increase correspondingly. Thus you arrive at Hobbes' state of nature.)

Fascinating stuff.

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