VII. Our Earthuman Moment: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
2. Complex Local to Global Network Biosocieties
Boehm, Christopher. What Makes Humans Economically Distinctive? Journal of Bioeconomics. 6/2, 2004. The noted anthropologist surveys great ape and early hominid hunter-gatherer societies and cultures and finds a common formation of egalitarian bands based on division of labor, a balance of communal property and individual shares (so an elite did not hog the game meat), and the suppression of alpha male behavior in favor of group survival. World civilization has strayed far from this leavening it is said, to its great detriment, and we would do well to learn from our ancestors.
Bohorquez, Juan, et al. Common Ecology Quantifies Human Insurgency. Nature. 462/911, 2009. University of Los Andes, Columbia, University of Miami, Cambridge University, and University of London, amazingly find that even the chaotic carnage of internecine conflicts, such as Iraq, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Peru, and onto “global terrorism,” can be seen to exhibit common nonlinear complex dynamics similar to everywhere else in nature and society. See also “Modellers Claim Wars are Predictable” in the same issue.
Many collective human activities, including violence, have been shown to exhibit universal patterns. The size distributions of casualties both in whole wars from 1816 to 1980 and terrorist attacks have separately been shown to follow approximate power-law distributions. However, the possibility of universal patterns ranging across wars in the size distribution or timing of within-conflict events has barely been explored. Here we show that the sizes and timing of violent events within different insurgent conflicts exhibit remarkable similarities. We propose a unified model of human insurgency that reproduces these commonalities, and explains conflict-specific variations quantitatively in terms of underlying rules of engagement. Our model treats each insurgent population as an ecology of dynamically evolving, self-organized groups following common decision-making processes. Our model is consistent with several recent hypotheses about modern insurgency, is robust to many generalizations, and establishes a quantitative connection between human insurgency, global terrorism and ecology. Its similarity to financial market models provides a surprising link between violent and non-violent forms of human behaviour. (Abstract)
Bolender, John. The Self-Organizing Social Mind. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010. Slated for September, the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and Princeton University philosopher proposes ways to join our communal intellect with a knowing nature.
John Bolender.….argues that the core of social-relational cognition exhibits beauty—in the physicist's sense of the word, associated with symmetry. Bolender describes a fundamental set of patterns in interpersonal cognition, which account for the resulting structures of social life in terms of their symmetries and the breaking of those symmetries. He further describes the symmetries of the four fundamental social relations as ordered in a nested series akin to what one finds in the formation of a snowflake or spiral galaxy. Symmetry breaking organizes the neural activity generating the cognitive models that structure our social relationships. Bolender's hypothesis that relational cognition results from self-organization is entirely novel, distinct from other theories that describe sociality in terms of evolution or environment. In doing so it reveals deep connections among cognition, biology, and the inorganic world. (Publisher, edited)
Boon, Eva, et al, eds. Foundations of Cultural Evolution. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. May, 2021. This is a copious theme issue based on 2019 workshops held at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, the Netherlands. Four subject areas are covered: Part I: Modelling the Dynamics of Cultural Change, II: Unravelling the Mechanisms Underlying Cultural Evolution, III: Deciphering the Patterns of Cultural Variation, and IV. Cross-Talk with the Humanities. Typical papers are Cultural Selection and Biased Transformation by Alex Mesoudi, Beyond Social Learning by Manvir Singh, et al, Not by Transmission Alone by Susan Perry, et al, The Cultural Evolution and Ecology of Institutions by Thomas Currie, et al, and the Cultural Evolution of Cultural Evolution by Jonathan Birch and Cecelia Heyes.
'Cultural evolution' as a field applies the insight that cultural change may be like biological evolution. Concepts, methods and ideas from the well-established theory of biological evolution are applied to cultural processes, such as the spread and diversification of languages or technology. Some researchers even suggest that evolutionary theory may serve as a synthetic framework for unifying the humanities and the social sciences, just as biological evolution is viewed as a unifying principle underlying all life sciences. This theme issue examines the theoretical and methodological core of this rapidly expanding field. What premises form the foundation? What are the disparities? The issue unites perspectives and fosters dialogue between scholars across disciplines - breaking ground in the study of the dynamics and diversity of culture.
Bourgine, Paul and Jean-Pierre Nadal, eds. Cognitive Economics. Berlin: Springer, 2004. The book’s title stands for an effort to move beyond classical “general equilibrium theory” by way of the new complexity sciences. Starting with the Nobel Prize theories of economist Friedrich von Hayek, commerce markets are to be appreciated as spontaneously self-organizing due to many individual rational agents who interact according to norms, laws and rules. The same phenomena as found in biology and ecology again results in divisions of labor and collective, distributed conventions, networks, and institutions.
Cognitive economics belongs within this movement (a cognitive turn) of the social sciences. It aims to take into account the cognitive processes of individuals in economic theory, both on the level of the agent and on the level of their dynamic interactions and the resulting collective phenomena. (preface) Modern economies, by connecting with each other, are moving towards the formation of one sole complex adaptive system. (6)
Brazil, Rachel. The Physics of Public Opinion. Physics World. January, 2020. A journalist surveys the welling field of sociophysics (search) which seeks to trace and explain human social behaviors like political voting patterns by way of principles such as phase transitions, percolation theory and Ising models. The work of Serge Galam and Herman Makse is especially noted.
Buss, David. The Emergence of Evolutionary Social Psychology. Jeffry Simpson and Douglas Kenrick, eds. Evolutionary Social Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997. This paper and the edited collection explore the evolutionary roots and stages of animal, primate and human interpersonal behavior.
Cacioppo, John, et al, eds. Foundations of Social Neuroscience. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. A “multilevel integrative analyses” of human behavior from biological origins to an interactive social psychology. The tacit paradigm is that a growing intensity and survival value of social communication drove human brain evolution.
Callegari, Simone, et al. An Agent-Based Model of Human Dispersals at a Global Scale. Advances in Complex Systems. Online July, 2013. As the extensive Abstract explains, Anthropological Institute and Museum, and Institute of Physics, University of Zurich, researchers find that even such fraught migrations and diasporas can be seen to hold to constant mathematical dynamic patterns.
In this paper, we report on the theoretical foundations, empirical context and technical implementation of an agent-based modeling (ABM) framework, that uses a high-performance computing (HPC) approach to investigate human population dynamics on a global scale, and on evolutionary time scales. The ABM-HPC framework provides an in silico testbed to explore how short-term/small-scale patterns of individual human behavior and long-term/large-scale patterns of environmental change act together to influence human dispersal, survival and extinction scenarios. These topics are currently at the center of the Neanderthal debate, i.e., the question why Neanderthals died out during the Late Pleistocene, while modern humans dispersed over the entire globe. To tackle this and similar questions, simulations typically adopt one of two opposing approaches, top-down (equation-based) and bottom-up (agent-based) models of population dynamics. We propose HPC technology as an essential computational tool to bridge the gap between these approaches. Using the numerical simulation of worldwide human dispersals as an example, we show that integrating different levels of model hierarchy into an ABM-HPC simulation framework provides new insights into emergent properties of the model, and into the potential and limitations of agent-based versus continuum models. (Abstract)
Cao, Z., et al. Universality and Correlations in Individuals Wandering Through an Online Extermist Space. arXiv:1706.06627. University of Miami physicists including Neil Johnson manage to show that even outlier behaviors as this will yet hold to, and be predictable by common, mathematical patterns and constrains.
The 'out of the blue' nature of recent terror attacks and the diversity of apparent motives, highlight the importance of understanding the online trajectories that individuals follow prior to developing high levels of extremist support. Here we show that the physics of stochastic walks, with and without temporal correlation, provides a unifying description of these online trajectories. Our unique dataset comprising all users of a global social media site, reveals universal characteristics in individuals' online lifetimes. Our accompanying theory generates analytical and numerical solutions that describe the characteristics shown by individuals that go on to develop high levels of extremist support, and those that do not. The existence of these temporal and also many-body correlations suggests that existing physics machinery can be used to quantify and perhaps mitigate the risk of future events. (Abstract)
Caporael, Linnda and Reuben Baron. Groups as the Mind’s Natural Environment. Jeffrey Simpson and Douglas Kenrick, eds. Evolutionary Social Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997. A survey of how relational, developmental, and self-organization insights are refashioning the psychological and social sciences.
Capraro, Valerio and Matjaz Perc. Grand Challenges in Social Physics: In Pursuit of Moral Behavior. arXiv:1810:05516. Middlesex University, UK and University of Maribor, Slovenia system theorists (search Perc here and both on arXiv) show how our personal and communal mores can be traced to, rooted in and explained by condensed matter phenomena. (An array of companion studies are also finding a quantum basis) As long intimated, ones days and nights on life’s tragic stage do spring from, exemplify and are choreographed by forces and designs beyond our simple ken. The promise of these insights, alluded here as fostering beneficial cooperations, would be an intentional ascent to a peaceable, humane sustainability.
Methods of statistical physics have proven valuable for studying the evolution of cooperation in social dilemma games. However, recent empirical research shows that cooperative behavior in social dilemmas is only one kind of a more general class of behavior, namely moral behavior, which includes reciprocity, respecting others' property, honesty, equity, efficiency, as well as many others. Inspired by these experimental works, we here open up the path towards studying other forms of moral behavior with methods of statistical physics. We argue that this is a far-reaching direction for future research that can help us answer fundamental questions about human sociality. Why did our societies evolve as they did? What moral principles are more likely to emerge? Can we predict the break out of moral conflicts in advance and contribute to their solution? These are amongst the most important questions of our time, and methods of statistical physics could lead to new insights and contribute towards finding answers (Abstract)