Monday, March 3, 2008

Cultaptation: social learning tournament

I'm not sure why I never came across this web site before but Deb pointed it out to me yesterday. Despite the silly name ("Cultaptation" -- it is supposed, I think, invoke change in culture, but its really mostly unspeakable), the site announces a tournament that consists of competing rule sets that govern learned behavior (exploit, in their terms), innovating, and copying. in the tradition of the Axelrod game theory competitions, participants submit their brew of the rule set in code and pseudocode and those submissions battle it out over a series of tests. The "winner" -- which I take to be the rule set that outcompetes every other variant -- gets 10,000 pounds sterling which is, in recent sad American dollars, a pile of cash.
Mark Madsen and I plan to submit an entry with help from Alex Bentley though we have no exact ideas as to what that will consist of. Ideally, we will work to incorporate our TransmissionLab project into the conceptual framework. One of the concerns I have is the notion that behavior is a "choice" from the 3 available options. We know in fact that replicated behavior is never perfect, thus innovation is inherent due to cognitive limitations and physical constraints. So everything is always "innovation" to some/more/less degree. The question, then is performance values and detection rather than the behavior in and of itself. Consequently, I don't know how realistic (or meaningful) this competition framework really is. But it should be interesting.
[From Cultaptation: social learning tournament ]

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