Quarterly (winter, spring, summer, fall)
128 pp. per issue
7 x 10, illustrated
ISSN
1064-5462
E-ISSN
1530-9185
2014 Impact factor:
1.39

Artificial Life

Summer 2017, Vol. 23, No. 3, Pages 374-405
(doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00237)
© 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Imitative and Direct Learning as Interacting Factors in Life History Evolution
Article PDF (1.95 MB)
Abstract

The idea that lifetime learning can have a significant effect on life history evolution has recently been explored using a series of artificial life simulations. These involved populations of competing individuals evolving by natural selection to learn to perform well on simplified abstract tasks, with the learning consisting of identifying regularities in their environment. In reality, there is more to learning than that type of direct individual experience, because it often includes a substantial degree of social learning that involves various forms of imitation of what other individuals have learned before them. This article rectifies that omission by incorporating memes and imitative learning into revised versions of the previous approach. To do this reliably requires formulating and testing a general framework for meme-based simulations that will enable more complete investigations of learning as a factor in any life history evolution scenarios. It does that by simulating imitative information transfer in terms of memes being passed between individuals, and developing a process for merging that information with the (possibly inconsistent) information acquired by direct experience, leading to a consistent overall body of learning. The proposed framework is tested on a range of learning variations and a representative set of life history factors to confirm the robustness of the approach. The simulations presented illustrate the types of interactions and tradeoffs that can emerge, and indicate the kinds of species-specific models that could be developed with this approach in the future.