Posts Tagged ‘cooperation’
From the age of Darwin to the present day, biologists have been grappling with the origins of our moral sense. Why, if the human instinct to survive and reproduce is “selfish,” do people engage in self-sacrifice, and even develop ideas like virtue and shame to justify that altruism? Many theories have been put forth, some emphasizing the role of nepotism, others emphasizing the advantages of reciprocation or group selection effects. But evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Boehm finds existing explanations lacking, and in “Moral Origins, “he offers an elegant new theory. Tracing the development of altruism and group social control over 6 million years, Boehm argues that our moral sense is a sophisticated defense mechanism that enables individuals to survive and thrive in groups. One of the biggest risks of group living is the possibility of being punished for our misdeeds by those around us. Bullies, thieves, free-riders, and especially psychopaths–those who make it difficult for others to go about their lives–are the most likely to suffer this fate. Getting by requires getting along, and this social type of selection, Boehm shows, singles out altruists for survival. This selection pressure has been unique in shaping human nature, and it bred the first stirrings of conscience in the human species. Ultimately, it led to the fully developed sense of virtue and shame that we know today. A groundbreaking exploration of the evolution of human generosity and cooperation, “Moral Origins” offers profound insight into humanity’s moral past–and how it might shape our moral future.
The new socio-technological systems of the internet involve complex collaborative behaviors, of which Wikis in general are a particular successful case, and especially Wikipedia. This encyclopedia has created and harnessed new social and work dynamics, which can provide insight into specific aspects of cognition, as amplified by a multitude of editors and their ping-pong style of editing, spatial and time flexibility within unique technology-community fostering features. Wikipedia’s motto “The Free Encyclopedia That Anyone Can Edit” is analyzed to reveal human, technological and value actors within a theoretical context of distributed cognition, cooperation and technological agency. As this work is part of an emergent field of Wiki Studies, with an interdisciplinary approach, three avenues of inquiry are used to research cooperation and cognition in Wikipedia articles. These studies contribute to constructing an ecology of the article, a vision of humanities bottom-up, and a better understanding of cooperation and cognition within socio-technological networks.
Cooperation often involves behaviours that reduce immediate payoffs for actors. Delayed benefits have often been argued to pose problems for the evolution of cooperation because learning such contingencies may be difficult as partners may cheat in return. Therefore, the ability to achieve stable cooperation has often been linked to a species’ cognitive abilities, which is in turn linked to the evolution of increasingly complex central nervous systems. However, in their famous 1981 paper, Axelrod and Hamilton stated that in principle even bacteria could play a tit-for-tat strategy in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma. While to our knowledge this has not been documented, interspecific mutualisms are present in bacteria, plants and fungi. Moreover, many species which have evolved large brains in complex social environments lack convincing evidence in favour of reciprocity. What conditions must be fulfilled so that organisms with little to no brainpower, including plants and single-celled organisms, can, on average, gain benefits from interactions with partner species? On the other hand, what conditions favour the evolution of large brains and flexible behaviour, which includes the use of misinformation and so on? These questions are critical, as they begin to address why cognitive complexity would emerge when ‘simple’ cooperation is clearly sufficient in some cases. This paper spans the literature from bacteria to humans in our search for the key variables that link cooperation and deception to cognition.
Does the cultural background influence the success with which genetically unrelated individuals cooperate in social dilemma situations? In this paper, we provide an answer by analysing the data of Herrmann et al., who studied cooperation and punishment in 16 subject pools from six different world cultures. We use analysis of variance to disentangle the importance of cultural background relative to individual heterogeneity and group level differences in cooperation. We find that culture has a substantial influence on the extent of cooperation, in addition to individual heterogeneity and group-level differences identified by previous research. The significance of this result is that cultural background has a substantial influence on cooperation in otherwise identical environments. This is particularly true in the presence of punishment opportunities.
Researchers in the field of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) have increasingly come to realize that artifacts play an important role in the coordination of cooperative work. This master thesis is an attempt to make an inquiry into the nature of artifacts and the coordinative practices employing them. Based on concepts of process, practice, materiality, context and the temporal nature of meaning, an attempted is made to develop an understanding of the coordinative roles of artifacts that take into consideration the complex interplay of coordinative practices and the material forms of artifacts.
Turning to the design implications of our inquiry we could perhaps suggest that we are not designing things when we are designing (digital) artifacts for the support of cooperative work, we are designing social and material practices. Along these lines, we could suggest that the successful design of digital artifacts for the support of cooperative work is at least equally dependant on the design of practices as on, for instance, the design of electronic circuits. Looking ahead, we could note that it could perhaps be of interest to explore the concepts of stigmergy and articulation work in relation to ubiquitous computing, with the purpose of informing the design of computer support for cooperative work.
Read also: Practices of Stigmergy in Architectural Work
This collection reports on the latest research on an increasingly pivotal issue for evolutionary biology: cooperation. The chapters are written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and utilize research tools that range from empirical survey to conceptual modeling, reflecting the rich diversity of work in the field. They explore a wide taxonomic range, concentrating on bacteria, social insects, and, especially, humans. Part I (“Agents and Environments“) investigates the connections of social cooperation in social organizations to the conditions that make cooperation profitable and stable, focusing on the interactions of agent, population, and environment. Part II (“Agents and Mechanisms“) focuses on how proximate mechanisms emerge and operate in the evolutionary process and how they shape evolutionary trajectories. Throughout the book, certain themes emerge that demonstrate the ubiquity of questions regarding cooperation in evolutionary biology: the generation and division of the profits of cooperation; transitions in individuality; levels of selection, from gene to organism; and the “human cooperation explosion” that makes our own social behavior particularly puzzling from an evolutionary perspective.