1 March 2007

Evolution sozialer Kommunikation

Eigentlich wollte ich etwas mehr zu diesem Artikel schreiben (Floreano et al. (2007), Evolutionary Conditions for the Emergence of Communication in Robots,Current Biology (in press), doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.01.058; .pdf des Volltext hier), nachdem ich den netten Science NOW Bericht dazu gelesen hatte (It's a Bot-Eat-Bot World; möglicherweise nicht frei erhältlich).
Experts disagree over exactly when and how communication arose among social animals. Evolutionary biologists suspect that early communication may have developed as a way for closely related individuals to boost each other's chances for survival. Studying such evolution in the lab is practically impossible, however, because most socially sophisticated creatures, such as bees or monkeys, can take hundreds of generations to show substantial behavioral changes.

[...] Keller and company equipped these 15-centimeter-tall subjects with wheels, a camera, a ground sensor, and a virtual "genome"--a computer program that dictated their responses to their environment. Some of the robots also had blue lights they could turn on or off. The robots then entered a foraging environment consisting of a "food" source and a "poison" source. [...]

During the course of 500 generations, or about a week, the robots evolved to use their blue lights to communicate. Some groups flashed them to tell others where the food was; other groups used them to warn of the presence of poison. As the tactic worked and the genomes of successful communicators survived, the robots became more and more efficient at foraging.

The researchers expected the lone bots to largely ignore each other. But they were surprised, says Sara Mitri, a graduate student involved in the experiment. Bots acting alone developed the same communication strategies, along with some strategies of deception. When surrounded by their kin, the incentive of trying to get their genome--or one similar to theirs--into the next round of the game kept the cooperation going. But when surrounded by "stranger" bots with dissimilar genomes, they flashed their blue lights far from food to sabotage the nonkin bots' chances for survival. "We did not expect that they would evolve such a sophisticated system of communication," says Keller. He says the results--presented online today in Current Biology--confirm that kinship and pressure to succeed as a group help give rise to social behavior, even the unsavory kind.
Leider ist mir The Loom zuvorgekommen.
Der kann das aber auch besser als ich.



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