Research Paper: Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence
Computer models give insight to evolution of cooperation and intelligence
Research by School of Natural Sciences PhD student Luke McNally provides mechanistic evidence for the social brain hypothesis which suggests that humans' exceptional intelligence arose in order to negotiate the complex social environment in which we live appears online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Elucidating the evolutionary origins of human intelligence has been a major challenge in evolutionary biology for over a century. Together with his Phd supervisor Dr Andrew Jackson, School of Natural Sciences, and colleague Dr Sam Brown, University of Edinburgh, Luke built computer models where he allowed digital organisms to evolve their own artificial “brains” in order to succeed in social games where they could either cooperate or cheat on their opponent. The digital organisms typically start to evolve more complex “brains” when their societies begin to develop cooperation. An evolutionary Machiavellian arms race follows with smarter individuals better able to exploit the nuances of the social game. Luke's results support the idea that cooperation may have driven the evolution of human intelligence.
McNally, L., Brown, S.P. & Jackson, A.L. In press - available online. Cooperation and the evolution of intelligence. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. abstract and full text (Open Access).