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Nice organisms finish first: Why cooperators always win in the long run
Date:8/1/2013

t good for the most individuals, but it might be tempting to be selfish and freeload, letting others do the work and take the risks.

In May 2012, two leading physicists published a paper showing their newly discovered strategy called zero-determinant -- gave selfish players a guaranteed way to beat cooperative players.

"The paper caused quite a stir," said Adami. "The main result appeared to be completely new, despite 30 years of intense research in this area."

Adami and Hintze had their doubts about whether following a zero determinant strategy (ZD) would essentially eliminate cooperation and create a world full of selfish beings. So they used high-powered computing to run hundreds of thousands of games and found ZD strategies can never be the product of evolution. While ZD strategies offer advantages when they're used against non-ZD opponents, they don't work well against other ZD opponents.

"In an evolutionary setting, with populations of strategies, you need extra information to distinguish each other," Adami explained.

So ZD strategies only worked if players knew who their opponents were and adapted their strategies accordingly. A ZD player would play one way against another ZD player and a different way against a cooperative player.

"The only way ZD strategists could survive would be if they could recognize their opponents," Hintze added. "And even if ZD strategists kept winning so that only ZD strategists were left, in the long run they would have to evolve away from being ZD and become more cooperative. So they wouldn't be ZD strategists anymore."

Both Adami and Hintze are members of the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action, a National Science Foundation Center that brings together biologists, computer scientists, engineers and researchers from other disciplines to study evolution as it happens.

The research also makes that case that communication and information are neces
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Contact: Val Osowski
osowskiv@cns.msu.edu
517-432-4561
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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