'Social learning' - learning from others - is observed in many species, and is particularly important for humans, as it is underlies our capacity for tradition and culture. Social learning can be a good way for individuals to get information about their environment. However, blindly copying is very unlikely to be useful because information may be wrong, and can become outdated. Therefore, we expect individuals to use social learning on a selective basis by employing 'social learning strategies' - rules about when and whom to copy. But which strategies perform best? Which win out in an evolutionary struggle?
We are organising a computer-based tournament that we hope will generate some interesting answers, as well as stimulate research in this area. We invite individuals or groups to submit strategies which will then be pitted against each other in a series of evolutionary computer simulations. We aim to solicit submissions from a wide range of disciplines, including economics, psychology and behavioural ecology, as well as from people outside academia.
The tournament is being overseen by a committee of distinguished scientists with much pertinent experience:
- Robert Boyd, University of California, Los Angeles
- Magnus Enquist, University of Stockholm
- Kimmo Eriksson, Mälardalen University
- Marcus Feldman, Stanford University
- Kevin Laland, University of St Andrews
[hat tip: decisionsciencenews.com]
In the '80s, political scientist Robert Axelrod organized an iterated prisoner dilemma tournament where it was found that Tit-for-Tat was the most effective strategy. Now an European group organized a similar tournament (with a 10 000 euros prize)