a real christmas story

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I’ve been sort of following the “humans are selfish dicks” slash “humans are capable of true love” story for a while now, often as they are presented in game-theoretic analyses, e.g., Hawks, Doves, and Tit-for-Tats, but mostly in terms of animal behavior in general.  And I will give you one anecdote from my experience.

About 20 years ago I saw Chris Langton (Santa Fe Institute) give a talk on a genetic algorithm of cellular automata using Hawks, Doves, and Tit-for-Tats. (briefly, a genetic algorithm is like life, wherein generationally, “like begets like;” cellular automata are rules-based checkerboard squares: e.g., if neighbor black, then white; and hawks, doves, and tit-for-tats are what you’d expect: hawks are always aggressive, doves, always kind, and tit-for-tats are kind first, then retributive against hawkishness; over generations, certain proportions of hawks, doves, and tit-for-tats emerge; tit-for-tat always wins, btw.)


Tit-for-tats are known to win over pure Hawks or Doves.  The interesting thing to me was that when there were sufficient tit-for-tatters in the population, the Doves, true love, were maintained over tens of thousands of generations.  In other words, doves went undetected, because tit-for-tatters cannot discriminate the peaceniks from themselves (and don’t want to), due to their own initially peaceful strategy; however, it requires the strong presence of tit-for-tat against hawks, someone willing to go toe-to-toe with hawks, in order for true love to exist.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  And Merry Christmas.


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  1. You can count on me, especially when I’m eggnogged.

  2. it should.


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