Human knowledge is often transmitted orally within a group via a sequence of communications between individuals. The children's game of Telephone is a familiar, simplified version. A phrase is uttered, understood, and then transmitted to another. Genetic information is communicated in an analogous sequential communication chain via replication. We show that the evolutionary dynamics of both problems is a form of genetic drift which accounts for memory in the communication chain. Using this, one can predict the mechanisms that lead to variations in fidelity and to structural innovation.
Crutchfield JP, Whalen S (2012) Structural Drift: The Population Dynamics of Sequential Learning. PLoS Comput Biol 8(6): e1002510. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002510