Learning Change

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Posts Tagged ‘cooperation

A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution

Why do humans, uniquely among animals, cooperate in large numbers to advance projects for the common good? Contrary to the conventional wisdom in biology and economics, this generous and civic-minded behavior is widespread and cannot be explained simply by far-sighted self-interest or a desire to help close genealogical kin. In A Cooperative Species, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis–pioneers in the new experimental and evolutionary science of human behavior–show that the central issue is not why selfish people act generously, but instead how genetic and cultural evolution has produced a species in which substantial numbers make sacrifices to uphold ethical norms and to help even total strangers. The authors describe how, for thousands of generations, cooperation with fellow group members has been essential to survival. Groups that created institutions to protect the civic-minded from exploitation by the selfish flourished and prevailed in conflicts with less cooperative groups. Key to this process was the evolution of social emotions such as shame and guilt, and our capacity to internalize social norms so that acting ethically became a personal goal rather than simply a prudent way to avoid punishment. Using experimental, archaeological, genetic, and ethnographic data to calibrate models of the coevolution of genes and culture as well as prehistoric warfare and other forms of group competition, A Cooperative Species provides a compelling and novel account of how humans came to be moral and cooperative.

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Written by learningchange

11/04/2014 at 16:03

Culture and the evolution of human cooperation

The scale of human cooperation is an evolutionary puzzle. All of the available evidence suggests that the societies of our Pliocene ancestors were like those of other social primates, and this means thathuman psychology has changed in ways that support larger, more cooperative societies that characterize modern humans. In this paper, we argue that cultural adaptation is a key factor in these changes. Over the last million years or so, people evolved the ability to learn from each other, creating the possibility of cumulative, cultural evolution. Rapid cultural adaptation also leads to persistent differences between local social groups, and then competition between groups leads to the spread of behaviours that enhance their competitive ability. Then, in such culturally evolved cooperative social environments, natural selection within groups favoured genes that gave rise to new, more pro-social motives. Moral systems enforced by systems of sanctions and rewards increased the reproductive success of individuals who functioned well in such environments, and this in turn led to the evolution of other regarding motives like empathy and social emotions like shame.

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Written by learningchange

11/04/2014 at 15:37

Cooperation and human cognition: the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis

Nicholas Humphrey’s social intelligence hypothesis proposed that the major engine of primate cognitive evolution was social competition. Lev Vygotsky also emphasized the social dimension of intelligence, but he focused on human primates and cultural things such as collaboration, communication and teaching. A reasonable proposal is that primate cognition in general was driven mainly by social competition, but beyond that the unique aspects of human cognition were driven by, or even constituted by, social cooperation. In the present paper, we provide evidence for this Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis by comparing the social-cognitive skills of great apes with those of young human children in several domains of activity involving cooperation and communication with others. We argue, finally, that regular participation in cooperative, cultural interactions during ontogeny leads children to construct uniquely powerful forms of perspectival cognitive representation.

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Read also: The social function of intellect

Written by learningchange

11/04/2014 at 14:17

In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration

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In networks, cooperation trumps collaboration. Collaboration happens around some kind of plan or structure, while cooperation presumes the freedom of individuals to join and participate. Cooperation is a driver of creativity. Stephen Downes commented here on the differences:

collaboration means ‘working together’. That’s why you see it in market economies. markets are based on quantity and mass.

cooperation means ’sharing’. That’s why you see it in networks. In networks, the nature of the connection is important; it is not simply about quantity and mass …

You and I are in a network – but we do not collaborate (we do not align ourselves to the same goal, subscribe to the same vision statement, etc), we *cooperate*

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Written by learningchange

22/06/2012 at 14:00

Social interaction and teamwork lead to human intelligence

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Scientists have discovered proof that the evolution of intelligence and larger brain sizes can be driven by cooperation and teamwork, shedding new light on the origins of what it means to be human.

The idea that social interactions underlie the evolution of intelligence has been around since the mid-70s, but support for this hypothesis has come largely from correlative studies where large brains were observed in more social animals. The authors of the current research provide the first evidence that mechanistically links decision making in social interactions with the evolution of intelligence.

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Read also: Teamwork made Man brainier

Written by learningchange

06/06/2012 at 12:00

Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence

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The high levels of intelligence seen in humans, other primates, certain cetaceans and birds remain a major puzzle for evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and psychologists. It has long been held that social interactions provide the selection pressures necessary for the evolution of advanced cognitive abilities (the ‘social intelligence hypothesis’), and in recent years decision-making in the context of cooperative social interactions has been conjectured to be of particular importance. Here we use an artificial neural network model to show that selection for efficient decision-making in cooperative dilemmas can give rise to selection pressures for greater cognitive abilities, and that intelligent strategies can themselves select for greater intelligence, leading to a Machiavellian arms race. Our results provide mechanistic support for the social intelligence hypothesis, highlight the potential importance of cooperative behaviour in the evolution of intelligence and may help us to explain the distribution of cooperation with intelligence across taxa.

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Written by learningchange

25/04/2012 at 15:00

Del ilusorio gen egoísta al carácter cooperativo del genoma humano

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Los tiempos de crisis del sistema como los que vivimos favorecen una revisión de conceptos y el ánimo para proyectar otros mundos posibles que hagan realidad lo que Paulo Freire llamó lo “inédito viable”.

Es sabido que el sistema capitalista imperante en el mundo es consumista, visceralmente egoísta y depredador de la naturaleza. Está llevando a toda la humanidad a un impasse pues ha creado una doble injusticia: ecológica, por haber devastado la naturaleza, y social, por haber generado una inmensa desigualdad social.

Pues bien, para salir de la actual crisis necesitamos sobre todo reforzar la cooperación de todos con todos, la comunicación entre todas las culturas y gran creatividad para diseñar un nuevo paradigma de civilización. Hay que dar un adiós definitivo al individualismo que sobredimensionó el “ego” en detrimento del “nosotros“, que incluye no sólo a los seres humanos sino a toda la comunidad de vida, a la Tierra y al propio universo.

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Written by learningchange

09/03/2012 at 18:46

Posted in Cooperation

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The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest

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For centuries, we as a society have operated according to a very unflattering view of human nature:  that, humans are universally and inherently selfish creatures. As a result, our most deeply entrenched social structures – our top-down business models, our punitive legal systems, our market-based approaches to everything from education reform to environmental regulation – have been built on the premise that humans are driven only by self interest, programmed to respond only to the invisible hand of the free markets or the iron fist of a controlling government.

In the last decade, however, this fallacy has finally begun to unravel, as hundreds of studies conducted across dozens of cultures have found that most people will act far more cooperatively than previously believed.  Here, Harvard University Professor Yochai Benkler draws on cutting-edge findings from neuroscience, economics, sociology, evolutionary biology, political science, and a wealth of real world examples to debunk this long-held myth and reveal how we can harness the power of human cooperation to improve business processes, design smarter technology, reform our economic systems, maximize volunteer contributions to science, reduce crime, improve the efficacy of civic movements, and more.

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Written by learningchange

11/10/2011 at 15:44

Posted in Cooperation

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The Deep Science of Cooperation

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If you are interested in cooperative studies or just want to build a more collaborative culture in your place of work, watch the below 20 minute talk by Martin Nowak. It’s based on his (and Roger Highfield’s) new book: SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed.

Nowak starts the talk with an overview of the key milestones in the evolution of life. What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened in the last 600 million years? The origin of human language. That’s right. It’s the most important evolutionary event since the rise of complex, multi-cellular life. That’s because for the first time on Earth, it enables a new mode of evolution that is longer tied to genetics, but ideas. This is the birth of cultural evolution.

Written by learningchange

15/09/2011 at 10:52

Sympathy and similarity – The evolutionary dynamics of cooperation

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The advantage of mutual help is threatened by defectors, who exploit the benefits provided by others without providing benefits in return. Cooperation can only be sustained if it is preferentially channeled toward cooperators and away from defectors. But how? A deceptively simple idea is to distinguish cooperators from defectors by tagging them. It clearly is in the interest of cooperators to use some distinctive cue to assort with their like. Such an assortment, however, conflicts with the interests of the cheaters, who have every incentive to also acquire that tag. This makes for an inherently unstable situation. The history of evolutionary thinking on this issue is long. An article in this issue of PNAS by Antal et al. opens new ground by providing an in-depth analysis of a selection-mutation model.

Written by learningchange

08/09/2011 at 20:32

Posted in Cooperation

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