Avoiding the bullies: The resilience of cooperation among unequals

Foley M, Smead R, Forber P, Riedl C (2021) Avoiding the bullies: The resilience of cooperation among unequals. PLoS Comput Biol 17(4): e1008847.

Individuals often differ in their ability to resolve conflicts in their favor, and this can lead to the emergence of hierarchies and dominant alphas. Such social structures present a serious risk of destabilizing cooperative social interactions or norms. Why work together to find food when a more aggressive or stronger individual can take all of it? In this paper we use game theory and agent-based modeling to investigate how cooperative behavior evolves in the presence of powerful bullies who have no incentive to cooperate. We show that when individuals can choose their interaction partners, bullies do not always destabilize cooperation. Instead, cooperative norms survive as individuals learn to avoid dominant individuals who become isolated in the population. When competitive ability itself depends dynamically on past success, complex cycles of coupled network-strategy-rank changes emerge: effective collaborators gain popularity and thus power, adopt aggressive behavior, get isolated, then lose power. Our results have important implications: in our modeled scenario the rich do not always get richer, the dominance of bullies can be broken, and inequality in accrued resources can be eliminated. Thus, our work provides new insight into potential sources of, and strategies for avoiding, resource inequality.

Read the full article at: journals.plos.org

Cells Form Into ‘Xenobots’ on Their Own

Embryonic cells can self-assemble into new living forms that don’t resemble the bodies they usually generate, challenging old ideas of what defines an organism.

Read the full article at: www.quantamagazine.org

See Also: 

A cellular platform for the development of synthetic living machines
Douglas Blackiston, Emma Lederer, Sam Kriegman, Simon Garnier, Joshua Bongard, Michael Levin

Science Robotics 31 Mar 2021:
Vol. 6, Issue 52, eabf1571

Behavioral and Cognitive Robotics: An adaptive perspective

Stefano Nolfi

This book describes how to create robots capable to develop the behavioral and cognitive skills required to perform a task autonomously, while they interact with their environment, through evolutionary and/or learning processes. It focuses on model-free approaches with minimal human-designed intervention in which the behavior used by the robot solve its task and the way in which such behavior is produced is discovered by the adaptive process automatically, i.e. it is not specified by the experimenter.

Read the full book at: bacrobotics.com

Emergence of Polarized Ideological Opinions in Multidimensional Topic Spaces

Fabian Baumann, Philipp Lorenz-Spreen, Igor M. Sokolov, and Michele Starnini
Phys. Rev. X 11, 011012 (2021)

By embedding opinions in a nonorthogonal topic space, a new model shows that a reinforcement mechanism driven by homophilic social interactions reproduces extreme and correlated opinion states found in surveys.

Read the full article at: link.aps.org