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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

6. Cooperative Societies

Hammerstein, Peter, ed. Genetic and Cultural Evolution of Cooperation. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003. The report of a Dahlem workshop which explored a constant tendency from genes to cells and societies to form cooperative modules, divisions of labor and whole individuals. In contrast to a Darwinian emphasis on competition and conflict, these assemblies take place not only due to kin selection but for survival and “market economy” advantages. Notable conferees such as Eors Szathmary, Richard Michod, Samuel Bowles, Lewis Wolpert and others provide a representative survey.

Harre, Michael and Mikhail Prokopenko. The Social Brain: Scale-Invariant Layering of Erdos-Renyi Networks in Small-Scale Human Societies. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Vol. 13/Iss. 118, 2016. University of Sydney systems scientists finesse the popular perception that a main driver of cerebral evolution was the occasion of hominids residing in large groupings through the lens of ubiquitous relational complexity theories. See each author’s own website for more publications in regard.

The cognitive ability to form social links that can bind individuals together into large cooperative groups for safety and resource sharing was a key development in human evolutionary and social history. The ‘social brain hypothesis’ argues that the size of these social groups is based on a neurologically constrained capacity for maintaining long-term stable relationships. No model to date has been able to combine a specific socio-cognitive mechanism with the discrete scale invariance observed in ethnographic studies. We show that these properties result in nested layers of self-organizing Erdős–Rényi networks formed by each individual's ability to maintain only a small number of social links. Each set of links plays a specific role in the formation of different social groups. The scale invariance in our model is distinct from previous ‘scale-free networks’ studied using much larger social groups; here, the scale invariance is in the relationship between group sizes, rather than in the link degree distribution. We also compare our model with a dominance-based hierarchy and conclude that humans were probably egalitarian in hunter–gatherer-like societies, maintaining an average maximum of four or five social links connecting all members in a largest social network of around 132 people. (Abstract)

Hauert, Christoph, et al. Evolutionary Games and Population Dynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 273/2565, 2006. In the Darwinian scheme, cooperation among entities is hard to explain because it conflicts with an emphasis on individual fitness and survival. Standard game theory such as prisoner’s dilemma and public goods skew to its confirmation. But the pervasive presence of altruistic behavior can be better understood via an ecological dynamics which includes varying group population densities.

Hein, Andrew, et al. The Evolution of Distributed Sensing and Collective Computation in Animal Populations. eLife. 4/e10955, 2015. Princeton University, MPI Ornithology, Santa Fe Institute, University of Exeter and University of Konstanz behavioral ecologists including Iain Couzin further describe and quantify a common propensity of all kinds of creatures to form into and maintain a dynamic group-wide viability. This optimal state is achieved an interactive reciprocity between free, constant member inputs, and an overall quorum sensitivity for mutual benefit. See also Conflicts of Interest Improve Collective Computation of Adaptive Social Structures by Eleanor Brush, et al for a similar perception. A further notice is that they tend to be poised in a critical state, along with an affinity with phase transition phenomena in statistical, condensed matter physics.

Many animal groups exhibit rapid, coordinated collective motion. Yet, the evolutionary forces that cause such collective responses to evolve are poorly understood. Here, we develop analytical methods and evolutionary simulations based on experimental data from schooling fish. We use these methods to investigate how populations evolve within unpredictable, time-varying resource environments. We show that populations evolve toward a distinctive regime in behavioral phenotype space, where small responses of individuals to local environmental cues cause spontaneous changes in the collective state of groups. These changes resemble phase transitions in physical systems. Through these transitions, individuals evolve the emergent capacity to sense and respond to resource gradients and to allocate themselves among distinct, distant resource patches. Our results yield new insight into how natural selection, acting on selfish individuals, results in the highly effective collective responses evident in nature. (Abstract)

Hemelrijk, Charlotte. Understanding Social Behavior with the Help of Complexity Science. Ethology. 108/7, 2002. How individual and environmental interactions can give rise to intricate animal societies. Selection is then seen to act on emergent self-organized patterns and effects.

Hemelrijk, Charlotte, ed. Self-Organization and Evolution of Social and Biological Systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. One of the first collections to gather and recognize nature’s universal propensity to arrange into a similar complex viability across every metazoan plane and niche from invertebrates to languages. See herein citations of salient chapters by Paulien Hogeweg, and Bart de Boer.

This book contains a collection of studies of social behaviour that are mainly biologically oriented and are carried out from the perspective of emergent effects and self-organization…..the entire range of organisms (from single-celled organisms via slugs, insects, fish and primates to humans). The book treats the broadest range of organisms as regards self-organization and social behavior that has been treated so far in one book. (1)

Herbert-Read, James. Understanding How Animal Groups Achieve Coordinated Movement. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219/2971, 2016. A Stockholm University zoologist provides a sophisticated study of complex animal behaviors as they reside and survive in active communities. While variations occur, it is significant that they can be explained by statistical physics phenomena. See also, e.g., Discrete Modes of Social Information Processing Predict Individual Behavior of Fish in a Group by Roy Harpaz, et al at arXiv:1703.03065.

Moving animal groups display remarkable feats of coordination. This coordination is largely achieved when individuals adjust their movement in response to their neighbours' movements and positions. Recent advancements in automated tracking technologies, including computer vision and GPS, now allow researchers to gather large amounts of data on the movements and positions of individuals in groups. Furthermore, analytical techniques from fields such as statistical physics now allow us to identify the precise interaction rules used by animals on the move. Here, I describe how trajectory data can be used to infer how animals interact in moving groups. I give examples of the similarities and differences in the spatial and directional organisations of animal groups between species, and discuss the rules that animals use to achieve this organization. (Abstract Excerpt)

Herbert-Read, James. Understanding How Animal Groups Achieve Coordinated Movement.. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219/2917, 2016. As the Abstract notes, a Stockholm University zoologist shows by way of the latest global faculties how creaturely gatherings exhibit intrinsic, fluid orders which can be traced to stochastic physical principles. With references herein that going back over two decades, these projects appear to be closing on a theoretical and experimental veracity of an innate natural genesis.

Moving animal groups display remarkable feats of coordination. This coordination is largely achieved when individuals adjust their movement in response to their neighbours' movements and positions. Recent advancements in automated tracking technologies, including computer vision and GPS, now allow researchers to gather large amounts of data on the movements and positions of individuals in groups. Furthermore, analytical techniques from fields such as statistical physics now allow us to identify the precise interaction rules used by animals on the move. Here, I describe how trajectory data can be used to infer how animals interact in moving groups. I give examples of the similarities and differences in the spatial and directional organisations of animal groups between species, and discuss the rules that animals use to achieve this organisation. I then examine how the interaction rules between individuals in the same groups can also differ, and discuss how this can affect ecological and evolutionary processes. (Abstract excerpts)

Higgs, Paul and Niles Lehman. The RNA World: Molecular Cooperation at the Origins of Life. Nature Reviews Genetics. 16/1, 2015. A McMaster University biophysicist and a Portland State University biochemist find a cooperative tendency and benefit even in this nucleotide onset of life evolutionary emergence due to a reciprocity of entities and associations.

The RNA World concept posits that there was a period of time in primitive Earth's history — about 4 billion years ago — when the primary living substance was RNA or something chemically similar. In the past 50 years, this idea has gone from speculation to a prevailing idea. In this Review, we summarize the key logic behind the RNA World and describe some of the most important recent advances that have been made to support and expand this logic. We also discuss the ways in which molecular cooperation involving RNAs would facilitate the emergence and early evolution of life. (Abstract)

The RNA World is the conceptual idea that there was a period in the early history of life on Earth when RNA, or something chemically very similar, carried out most of the information processing and metabolic transformations needed for biology to emerge from chemistry. (1) A key aim of this Review is to describe the different senses in which cooperation is relevant in the RNA World. We argue that RNA replication must also fit into a broader thermodynamic and biological context if this were to form the basis of life. (1)

Hill, Russell, et al. Network Scaling Reveals Consistent Fractal Pattern in Hierarchical Mammalian Societies. Biological Letters. Online September 2, 2008. Along with co-authors Alexander Bentley and Robin Dunbar, a ubiquitous branching webwork is found to not only distinguish human social assemblies but similarly across disparate species such as elephants, gelada and hamadryas baboons, and orca whales.

Recent studies have demonstrated that human societies are hierarchically structured with a consistent scaling ratio across successive layers of the social network; each layer of the network is between three and four times the size of the preceding (smaller) grouping level. Here we show that similar relationships hold for four mammalian taxa living in multi-level social systems.

Hintze, Arend, et al. The Janus Face of Darwinian Competition. Nature Scientific Reports. 5/13662, 2015. Michigan State University, University of Konstanz, Germany, and MPI Human Development psychologists find that a moderate level of personal rivalry is a best case for social viability. Again a reciprocity of considerate individuals and group welfare succeeds over excessive fighting and dominance.

Hofmann, Hans, et al. New Frontiers in the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior. Integrative and Comparative Biology. 56/6, 2016. Social biologists Hofmann, UT Austin, with Suzy Renn, Reed College and Dustin Rubenstein, Columbia University introduce papers from a Symposium with the subtitle Nothing in Neuroscience makes sense except in the light of behavior. The intent is to scope out this project going forward by a synthesis from genetics, brain sciences, environments and creaturely interactions. See also an earlier paper with this title by Rubenstein and Hofmann in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences (6/v, 2015).

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