Origins and evolution of “The Evolution of Cooperation”
Robert Axelrod, the pioneer of studying the evolution of cooperation and the organizer of the famous Prisoners Dilemma (PD) tournament, and author of “The Evolution of Cooperation”, wrote a very nice piece summarizing his research on the topic as well as a little bit of his own history behind it. Among other things, you will find an interesting accounts of where the inspiration for studying PD and the tournament itself came from, as well as experiences of a collaboration with William D. Hamilton, a famous evolutionary biologist.
Apart from the cooperation topic per se what I find especially interesting is that the text convincingly shows the great merits and excitement of doing interdisciplinary research (in this case on the boundaries of social sciences, biology and artificial intelligence). Moreover, the strengths of mathematical modeling in the social sciences.
It was also funny for me to learn that prior to organizing the iterated PD tournament Axelrod asked some famous people to play the iPD against the computer. One of those persons was James Coleman. He is reported to have said that “I am doing better than computer, so I guess I’m doing fine”…
The text: Launching “The Evolution of Cooperation”.