RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Wright, James 7929 (
Tue, 29 Apr 97 08:38:00 EDT

Lee wrote:
>Axelrod's simulaion is exactly on point, and 100% relevant, and if you'd
>just read the result for yourself you'd see that. The primary point
>was that the design of each underlying program in the simulation was
>hard-wired, inescapably, selfish. It had /no other goal/ but maximizing
>its own benefit. They were automatons with no ability to think about
>cooperation, or even know about others wealth. They simply followed
>their programs mechanistically. The simulation showed that programs
>wired to exhibit behaviors we, as humans, might judge to be
>did better than those wired more naively, even though the programs
>themselves had no way to know anything but their own benefit, by

Computers and software are not people; I have written a few programs
simulating control systems myself, and even simple mechanical systems
exhibit chaotic behavior beyond current algorithms ability to describe
them. Axelrod's work may be interesting, and even shed light on the
discussion, but all I have is your interpretation of it at this point, so
I do not choose to accept your argument until I have.

>Frankly, having any discussion about self-interest and cooperation
>without knowing intimately about Axelrod and Prisoner's Dilemma and
>basic econonomics and game theory is like having a discussion about
>quantum mechanics with someone who doesn't know what the Michaelson-
>Morley experiment or the EPR paradox or Bell's inequality are. <

I have some understanding of Prisoner's Dilemma, took a course or two in
basic economics and have read some game theory, so you are only partially
correct. Whether Axelrod is pertinent or not depends on someone's frame
of reference; yours includes him because you are aware of his work, mine
does not because I am not. Reed's original post (4/17) was about people,
something I do have knowledge and experience with; software (and Axelrod
in particular) was introduced (by you on 4/25) far later, after
definitions of altruism were questioned and so forth. I do not feel it is
pertinent, at least not yet; it appears more to me as a diversion of the
original question, or perhaps thread drift.
To declare that someone is unqualified to participate in a discussion
because "he hasn't read X" may well leave you talking to yourself.
At least at that point you would have fewer disagreements!<VBG!>
I will not start or participate in a flame war.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC