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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

2. Complex Local to Global Network Biosocieties

Perc, Matjaz. The Social Physics Collective. Nature Scientific Reports. 9/16459, 2019. The University of Maribor, Slovenia, polyscholar (search) introduces a special collection of papers within this journal to contain ways that our behaviors and activities across a wide domain such as epidemics, crime, warfare, financial markets and more.

More than two centuries ago Henri de Saint-Simon envisaged physical laws to describe human societies. Driven by advances in statistical physics, network science, data analysis, and information technology, this vision is becoming a reality. Many of the grandest challenges of our time are of a societal nature, and methods of physics are increasingly playing a central role in improving our understanding of these challenges, and helping us to find innovative solutions. The Social Physics Collection at Scientific Reports is dedicated to this research.

Perc, Matjaz, et al. Statistical Physics of Human Cooperation. Physics Reports. Online May, 2017. (arXiv:1705.07161) An international team with postings in Slovenia, USA, China, Italy, Israel, and Hungary, including Stefano Boccaletti, contribute to this project to explain social phenomena in terms of basic condensed matter theories and principles. Search each author, herein, Active Matter and throughout for more examples, as complexity science proceeds to join diversity with unity. An import, not yet realized but hopefully soon to be, is the presence of a common, independent program, which as a is similarly in formative, dynamic effect at each and every stage and instance.

Extensive cooperation among unrelated individuals is unique to humans, who often sacrifice personal benefits for the common good and work together to achieve what they are unable to execute alone. The evolutionary success of our species is indeed due, to a large degree, to our unparalleled other-regarding abilities. Yet, a comprehensive understanding of human cooperation remains a formidable challenge. Recent research in social science indicates that it is important to focus on the collective behavior that emerges as the result of the interactions among individuals, groups, and even societies. Non-equilibrium statistical physics, in particular Monte Carlo methods and the theory of collective behavior of interacting particles near phase transition points, has proven to be very valuable for understanding counterintuitive evolutionary outcomes. Here we review experimental and theoretical research that advances our understanding of human cooperation, focusing on spatial pattern formation, on the spatiotemporal dynamics of observed solutions, and on self-organization that may either promote or hinder socially favorable states. (Abstract excerpt)

Perez, Jermey, et al. Perez, Jeremy, et al. Cultural evolution in populations of Large Language Models. arXiv:2403.08882. Flowers Team, INRIA, Bordeaux, France scholars including Pierre-Yves Oudeyer (search) advance insightful approaches to provide better, more humane, realistic editorial guidance for these vicarious textual corpora. By March 2024, as the Earthificial section above reports, it has been noticed that these spontaneous cognitive venues actually seem to train themselves akin to how children persistently learn to speak and discover.

Over the past decades, the cultural evolution field has generated an important body of knowledge using experimental, historical, and computational methods. While these approaches have generated testable hypotheses, many phenomena are too complex for agent-based models. Here we propose that an employ of Large Language Models (LLMs) can be a novel way to represent human behavior. We simulate cultural evolution in populations of LLMs by variables such as network structure, personality, and social information. The software for conducting these simulations is open-source and features a user-interface to build bridges between the fields of cultural evolution and generative artificial intelligence.

The Flowers project-team, at the University of Bordeaux and at Ensta ParisTech, studies versions of hoistic individual development. These models can help us better understand how children learn, as well as to build machines that gain knowledge as children do, aka developmental artificial intelligence, with applications in educational technologies, automated discovery, robotics and human-computer interaction.

Plotkin, Henry. Evolution in Mind. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998. A psychologist and philosopher employs a hierarchical view of evolution to sort out many conceptual issues whose latest phase is a global sentience.

It is often said that the human brain is the most complicated thing in the universe. Not so, say I. The most complicated thing in the universe is the collective of human brains and their psychological processes that make up human culture, which is defined here as shared knowledge and beliefs. In part this complexity arises from the extragenetic transmission that lies at the heart of culture. (222)

Pluess, Michael, ed. Genetics of Psychological Well-Being: The Role of Heritability and Genetics in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. This novel collection, edited by a Queen Mary University psychologist, opens with a chapter about “salutogenetics,” a word coined for an approach that focuses on supportive factors for human health and well-being, rather than those that cause disease, wellness instead of pathogenesis. Once again, from another take, a singular universe to human expanse and juncture of participatory transformation is proffered.

This landmark book summarizes the state of knowledge regarding heritability and molecular genetics in positive psychology. Divided into four parts, it starts by exploring the basics of genetics and associated research methodology, providing the reader with the knowledge required to understand the empirical work presented throughout the volume. The second part of the book focuses on heritability estimates of the most important positive psychology concepts based on quantitative behavioural genetics studies. In the third section of the book, results from more recent molecular genetics studies are presented including candidate gene, gene-environment interaction, as well as genome-wide association studies. The fourth and final part of the book discusses more overarching questions regarding the roles of genes and environment in the development of well-being as well as a review and discussion of the current state of knowledge and future direction in this new field of inquiry.

Rainie, Lee and Barry Wellman. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Due by May, a former managing editor of U.S. News and World Report, and a University of Toronto sociologist coin a quite 21st century phrase: “networked individualism.”

Daily life is connected life, its rhythms driven by endless email pings and responses, the chimes and beeps of continually arriving text messages, tweets and retweets, Facebook updates, pictures and videos to post and discuss. In Networked, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. Rainie and Wellman outline the “triple revolution” that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, they examine how the move to networked individualism has expanded personal relationships beyond households and neighborhoods; transformed work into less hierarchical, more team-driven enterprises; encouraged individuals to create and share content; and changed the way people obtain information.

Rakoczy, Hannes. Collective Intentionality and the Roots of Human Societal Life. Roska-Hardy, Louise and Eva Neumann-Held, eds. Learning from Animals?. East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press, 2009. In a volume to “examine the nature of human uniqueness,” a Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researcher cites a prime difference as the rise of purpose-oriented societal fabric. One wonders however might it ever be intentionally imbued with an obvious Me and We reciprocity?

The upshot of these two studies is that the rudiments of second-order intentionality that develop in human ontogeny at around 1 year are probably not so uniquely human after all; our common cognitive primate heritage runs deeper that previously thought. (110) What is uniquely human, however, and a likely foundation of specifically human forms of life is the ability, developing from the second year in human ontogeny, to enter into collective (or “We”) intentionality. (110)

Read, Dwight. A Multitrajectory, Competition Model of Emergent Complexity in Human Social Organization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 99/7251, 2002. The theories of agent-based complex adaptive systems are employed to reveal a consistent, discernible social dynamic throughout human history.

The repeated pattern of emergent human organization at a societal level going from small-scale, egalitarian decentralized societies to complex, stratified and centralized societies is well-documented in the archaeological record of past societies. (7251)

Richerson, Peter and Robert Boyd. Not By Genes Alone. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Some two decades after their groundbreaking 1985 work Culture and the Evolutionary Process, a comprehensive review and update of how human societies can be joined with and founded upon Darwinian genetic and selective features. Richerson’s website contains additional resources in this regard. By these advances, the fields of cultural, behavioral and anthropological studies can gain a common basis, whereby to paraphrase Dobzhansky, “Nothing about culture makes sense except in the light of evolution.”

Riddihough, Guy, et al. Human Conflict: Winning the Peace. Science. 336/819, 2012. An introduction to a special issue by anthropologists, behavioral scientists, and social philosophers who consider in 21st century retrospect primate, hominid, and human proclivities for either constant war or harmonious accord. In “The Antiquity of Empathy” Frans de Waal tries to right an over-emphasis on competition, while Christopher Boehm’s “Ancestral Hierarchy and Conflict” reviews fighting or its absence within chimpanzee, bonobo, and human groupings - always by males, sometimes mitigated by females. “The Group Self” by Leiden University psychologist Naomi Ellemers notes how allegiances can influence both clashes or concord. A prominent essay “Life Without War” by “peace, mediation, and conflict researcher” Douglas Fry, Abo Akademi University, Finland, contends that local and global amity is innately possible. As Yoko Ono’s renowned quote from our home page avers, “Let’s visualize all the people living in peace. Let’s carry the clearest vision of a peaceful world. And do it with a spirit of fun and joy. War is over if you want it.”

An emerging evolutionary perspective suggests that nature and human nature are less “red in tooth and claw” than generally acknowledged by a competition-based view of the biological world. War is not always present in human societies. Peace systems, defined as groups of neighboring societies that do not make war on each other, exist on different continents. A comparison of three peace systems—the Upper Xingu River basin tribes of Brazil, the Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York State, and the European Union —highlight six features hypothesized to be important in the creation and maintenance of intersocietal peace: (i) an overarching social identity, (ii) interconnections among subgroups, (iii) interdependence, (iv) nonwarring values, (v) symbolism and ceremonies that reinforce peace, and (vi) superordinate institutions for conflict management. The existence of peace systems demonstrates that it is possible to create social systems free of war. (Douglas Fry, 879)

Rubin, Paul. Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. An Emory University economist sketches an evolutionary basis for altruistic, political and religious mores, as is underway for psychological behaviors, along with recommendations for how we might do better.

Sanchez, Angel and Jose Cuesta. Altruism may Arise from Individual Selection. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 235/2, 2005. A theoretical difficulty has been to explain the human tendency to cooperate in large groups with non-kin which appears to offer little benefit to the individual. This study describes an agent-based model of evolutionary game theory to show how personal fairness and selection can indeed result in an altruistic strong reciprocity.

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