Cellular automata (self-modifying software "robots") in an evolutionary computing simulation spontaneously began to exhibit altruism, sacrificing themselves for the good of their relations. The researchers were trying to confirm W. D. Hamilton's theory that altruism allows individuals to indirectly pass on their genes.
Once the team was comfortable with the virtual evolution environment it had set up, it added a new twist: It allowed the robots to share food disks with each other. If Hamilton's hypothesis was correct, "successful" virtual robots were likely to be those that were closely related and shared food with each other; that would help to ensure that at least one of them -- and some of the genes of both--would make it to the next round. (Two robots with a modest amount of food disks would both be more likely to be cut from the simulation, but if one robot gave all of its food to a second robot, that second robot would likely make the next round.) And indeed, altruism quickly evolved in the simulation, with greater food-sharing in groups where robots were more related, the researchers report online today in PLoS Biology. The more closely related the robots, the quicker they cooperated. "It shows how general the [theory] is, whether you are an insect, a human or a robot," says Floreano.
For reasons I don't entirely understand, the researchers also used real robots and modified them periodically to match the mutations that emerged in the software simulation (don't get me wrong, building robots is its own justification, of course, but I don't understand the sciencey reasoning)
Research suggests that people who do nice things for others, often at a cost for themselves, are more sexually attractive. From an evolutionary perspective, this might be because altruism indicates that a potential mate is more cooperative and caring. Evolutionary psychologists Steven Arnocky, at Nipissing University, and Pat Barclay, at the University of Guelph, conducted […]
A group of more than 200 elderly people in Japan have volunteered to help clean up the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station, where meltdowns and messes have caused radiation leaks. BBC News: The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age […]
The world is holding its collective breath. As states begin cautiously reopening, no one is sure exactly what to expect. But one thing is clear: most Americans are worried about their bank accounts. By the end of March, the average American household was spending 40 percent less on their credit cards than they were one […]
Over 25 years, eBay has carved out its space as the commerce hub of choice online. With 182 million users worldwide, that works out to about 35 percent of all US mobile users who shop those eBay storefronts. But did you know there are usually around 1.3 billion — with a B — active for-sale […]
Software apps are a dime a dozen. Well, if you’re going by their actual monetary cost, maybe not really. But considering how useless some poorly conceived, poorly executed apps are at doing the job you actually downloaded them to accomplish, it isn’t a stretch to think that many apps aren’t even worth a free download. […]