Analytical results from modeling the fitness consequences of two decision-making mechanisms, despotism and democracy, shows that generally despotic models leads to higher costs than democratic models because despotism produces more extreme decisions than democracy.
The Tit-for-Tat strategy is vulnerable to noise – errors in implementing choices – that can lead to echoing defections, but can be made less sensitive by adding generosity (occasionally refraining from punishing defection by opponent) and contrition (refraining from punishing a reaction to accidental defection.)"
Evidence is cited that strong reciprocity (repaying cooperation and punishing defection, cheating, violation of fairness norms), which plays a role in the provision of public goods and contradicts theories of selfish actors, is neither a maladaptation, nor explained in an evolutionary context by kin selection, reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, or costly signaling.
Synergies that convey advantages drive and accelerate biological and cultural evolution by providing a package of independent elements that confer benefits many times greater than those conferred by individual elements: in biology, synergies of independently evolved traits can lead to the development of the power of flight or the emergence of humans as the dominant species; in humans, complex, coordinated activity over sustained periods leverages the power of physical tools, cultural discoveries, and social organization.
Wright applied to the history of civilization the same game theory that Axelrod had used to explain biological and social phenomena, concluding (controversially), that humans throughout history have learned to play progressively more complex non-zero-sum games with the help of technologies like steam engines and algorithms and metatechnologies like money and constitutions.
Healthy social, technical, biological and professional networks are built on cooperative frameworks that enable them to quickly spread information and phenomena regardless of beneficial or malicious intent; this appears to be a deep structural characteristic of "small-world" or "scale-free" networks that have a relatively small number of hubs that enable extensive interconnectivity across large numbers of nodes.
Insect studies on emergent intelligence in swarms of unintelligent actors has practical relevance to distributed computing, robotics, and other applications; for example, foraging insects use pheromone trails to select the shortest paths to food, a strategy that has been used to solve the famous "traveling salesman problem" in computer science.
The genetic algorithm uses computer simulations to evolve different strategies for playing Prisoner's Dilemma games, and by observing the interactions of populations of agents over many runs, it is possible to make useful observations that could generalize to human behavior – such as the tendency of reciprocation to establish itself and spread if cooperating agents are able to encounter one another.
Human emotions, customs, and institutions enable us to compete effectively with all other species by making cooperative social arrangements among ourselves – a capability that co-evolved with thumbs, speech, and tool-building.