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February 18, 2009

Co-opetition in Economics, Biology, and AI

by omohundro

On January 27, 2009 Steve Omohundro gave a talk to the Silicon Valley Grey Thumb on “Co-opetition in Economics, Biology, and AI”.

The slides from the talk are available here:

Thanks to Allan Lundell who filmed and edited the talk. The video is available here:

Here is the abstract:

Coopetition in Biology, Economics, and Artificial Intelligence
by Steve Omohundro, Ph.D.
Recent developments in both biology and economics emphasize cooperative interactions as well as competitive ones.The “selfish gene” view of biological evolution is being extended to include synergies and interactions at multiple levels of organization. The “competitive markets” view of economics is being extended to include both cooperation and competition in an intricate network of “coopetition“. Cooperation between two entities can result if there are synergies in their goals, if they can avoid dysergies, or if one or both of them is compassionate toward the other. The history of life is one of increasing levels of cooperation. Organelles joined to form eukaryotic cells, cells joined to form multi-cellular organisms, organisms joined into hives, tribes, and countries. Many perceive that a kind of “global brain” is currently emerging. Each new level of organization creates structures that foster cooperation at lower levels.
In this talk I’ll discuss the nature of cooperation in general and then tackle the issue of creating cooperation among intelligent entities that can alter their physical structures.Single entities will tend to organize themselves as energy-efficient compact structures. But if two or more such entities come into conflict, a new kind of “game theoretic physics” comes into play. Each entity will try to make its physical structure and dynamics so complex that competitors must waste resources to sense it, represent it, and compete with it. A regime of “Mutually Assured Distraction” would use up resources on all sides and provides an incentive to create an alternative regime of peaceful coexistence. The asymmetry in the difficulty of posing problems versus solving them (assuming P!=NP) appears to allow some range of weaker entities to coexist with stronger entities. This gives us a theoretical basis for constructing stable peaceful societies and ecosystems. We discuss some possible pathways to that end.
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