Friday, 14 September 2012

Tag-Based Cooperation

Price's insight about the generality of selection made slow progress into the mainstream. Universal Darwinism is still struggling for acceptance in the mainstream, four decades after Price published. Another important aspect of the generality of selection - cultural kin selection - also laboured in obscurity for a long time. Some memetics enthusiasts understood it, but few others understood them. It wasn't until the year 2000 that the idea began to gather steam in academia - under the term "Tag-Based Cooperation".

A pioneering paper in 2001 - titled "Evolution of cooperation without reciprocity" - introduced the idea. The abstract said:

Here we use computer simulations to show that cooperation can arise when agents donate to others who are sufficiently similar to themselves in some arbitrary characteristic. Such a characteristic, or `tag', can be a marking, display, or other observable trait. Tag-based donation can lead to the emergence of cooperation among agents who have only rudimentary ability to detect environmental signals and, unlike models of direct or indirect reciprocity, no memory of past encounters is required.
"Tag-Based Cooperation" was recognised as a form of cultural kin selection by Sigmund and Nowak in 2001 - as follows:

the mechanism that leads to cooperation is a form of kin selection — either classical (if traits are inherited genetically) or social (if they are inherited culturally, like a dress code).


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