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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
Curated by Ashish Umre
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Scientific study reveals that individuals cooperate according to their emotional state and their prior experiences

A study by researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad de Zaragoza has determined that when deciding whether to cooperate with others, people do not act thinking about their own reward, as had been previously believed, but rather individuals are more influenced by their own mood at the time and by the number of individuals with whom they have cooperated before.

 

In addition to previous studies, this research is also based on an experiment carried out by the Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems (BIFI) at the Universidad de Zaragoza, together with the Fundación Ibercivis and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), the largest study of its kind to date in real time regarding cooperation in society. It was carried out during this past December, with 1,200 Aragon secondary students participating, who interacted electronically in real time via a social conflict prototype known as the "Prisoner's Dilemma."

 

This game shows that the greatest benefit for individuals who interact is produced when both of them collaborate, but if one collaborates and the other does not, the latter will receive more benefits than the one who cooperates. On occasion, this allows an individual to take advantage of the cooperation of others, but if this tendency is extended, in the end, no one cooperates and as such, nobody obtains rewards.

 

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Apes With Apps

Apes With Apps | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Have you ever watched a toddler play with an iPhone?

 

Most likely, the child was completely captivated and surprisingly adept at manipulating the tiny icons. Two-year-old Teco is no different. Sitting with his Motorola Xoom tablet, he’s rapt, his dark eyes fixed on the images, fingers pecking away at the touch screen. He can’t speak, but with the aid of the tablet app I created for him, he’s building a vocabulary that will likely total several thousand words. What’s more, he’ll be able to string those words together into simple sentences and ask questions, tell jokes, and carry on conversations.

 

Such talents wouldn’t seem exceptional in a human child, but Teco is an ape—a bonobo, to be precise. To the uninitiated, bonobos look very much like chimpanzees, but they are in fact a separate species with distinct physical and behavioral traits. More collaborative and sociable than their chimp cousins, bonobos also seem to be more adept at learning human language. And they are endangered, found in the wild only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recent estimates put the wild bonobo population at between 10 000 and 50 000. Fewer than 150 live in captivity. Along with the chimpanzee, they are our species’ closest relatives.

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A Parameterized Runtime Analysis of Evolutionary Algorithms for the Euclidean Traveling Salesperson Problem

Parameterized runtime analysis seeks to understand the influence of problem structure on algorithmic runtime. In this paper, we contribute to the theoretical understanding of evolutionary algorithms and carry out a parameterized analysis of evolutionary algorithms for the Euclidean traveling salesperson problem (Euclidean TSP).
We investigate the structural properties in TSP instances that influence the optimization process of evolutionary algorithms and use this information to bound the runtime of simple evolutionary algorithms. Our analysis studies the runtime in dependence of the number of inner points $k$ and shows that $(\mu + \lambda)$ evolutionary algorithms solve the Euclidean TSP in expected time $O((\mu/\lambda) \cdot n^3\gamma(\epsilon) + n\gamma(\epsilon) + (\mu/\lambda) \cdot n^{4k}(2k-1)!)$ where $\gamma$ is a function of the minimum angle $\epsilon$ between any three points.
Finally, our analysis provides insights into designing a mutation operator that improves the upper bound on expected runtime. We show that a mixed mutation strategy that incorporates both 2-opt moves and permutation jumps results in an upper bound of $O((\mu/\lambda) \cdot n^3\gamma(\epsilon) + n\gamma(\epsilon) + (\mu/\lambda) \cdot n^{2k}(k-1)!)$ for the $(\mu+\lambda)$ EA.

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Leafcutter ants retire when they grow old Peru Nature

Leafcutter ants retire when they grow old Peru Nature | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Leaf-cutter ants start their lives with razor-like jaws, or mandibles, to cut through the leaves they harvest.

 

But as these "wear out", the insects tend to carry the leaves cut by their younger counterparts.

 

The findings suggest that individual ants can extend their useful lifespan as their skills decline.

 

They are reported in the journal Behaviour Ecology and Sociobiology.

 

The US-based scientists discovered that older ants were significantly less efficient at cutting leaves.

They estimated these older colony members' "worn-out teeth" halved the speed at which the entire colony was able to harvest leaves.

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How ants fight zombie-ant fungus

How ants fight zombie-ant fungus | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

An international team of researchers has discovered what gives ants the means to fight infestations by the zombie-ant fungus: a hyperparasitic fungus. The zombie-ant fungus attacks the ant's brain and forces it to die at a mass grave near the ant colony. There, the fungus spores erupt out of the ant's head. The study, presented in the journal PLoS ONE, was funded in part by the ANT FUNGI EP ('From ecology to mechanisms of the extended phenotype') project, which clinched a Marie Curie Action grant worth more than EUR 214 000 under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

 

'In a case where biology is stranger than fiction, the parasite of the zombie-ant fungus is itself a fungus - a hyperparasitic fungus that specialises in attacking the parasite that turns the ants into zombies,' said Professor David Hughes from the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State University in the United States and senior author of the study. 'The hyperparasitic fungus effectively castrates the zombie-ant fungus so it cannot spread its spores. Because the hyperparasitic fungi prevent the infected zombie-ant fungi from spreading spores, fewer of the ants will become zombies.'

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ASU bee study: New social interactions can heal older brains

It’s one of the unfortunate facts of life: As we age, brain function often declines.

 

But new research from Arizona State University finds that older honeybees turned back the clock on brain aging when they took on new duties, such as caring for baby bees, that were usually handled by younger members of the colony. The findings, published recently in the journal of Experimental Gerontology, suggest that social interventions — changing how you deal with your surroundings — could be used to treat or slow dementia in humans.

 

“We show that social relationships can heal older brains,” said ASU professor Gro Amdam, who led a 15-member team of scientists from ASU and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences on the three-year research project.

 

The research indicates that people can use their social lives as a tool to help their brains stay younger as they grow older. Older people could slow, and perhaps even overturn, some aspects of brain aging by enjoying social activities that they did when they were younger, she said. Taking care of children may have particularly positive effects, but other activities, such as imaginary play, starting a band or engaging in cooperative two- or multiplayer video games, may have similar benefits, Amdam said.

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Complexity and Planning: Systems, Assemblages and Simulations by Gert De Roo, Jean Hillier and Joris Van Wezemael

Complexity and Planning: Systems, Assemblages and Simulations by Gert De Roo, Jean Hillier and Joris Van Wezemael | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Complexity, complex systems and complexity theories are becoming increasingly important within a variety disciplines. While these issues are less well known within the discipline of spatial planning, there has been a recent growing awareness and interest.


As planners grapple with how to consider the vagaries of the real world when putting together proposals for future development, they question how complexity, complex systems and complexity theories might prove useful with regard to spatial planning and the physical environment.

 

This book provides a readable overview, presenting and relating a range of understandings and characteristics of complexity and complex systems as they are relevant to planning. It recognizes multiple, relational approaches of dynamic complexity which enhance understandings of, and facilitate working with, contingencies of place, time and the various participants' behaviours. In doing so, it should contribute to a better understanding of processes with regard to our physical and social worlds.

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Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot'

Falling lizards use tail for mid-air twist, inspiring lizard-like 'RightingBot' | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Lizards, just like cats, have a knack for turning right side up and landing on their feet when they fall. But how do they do it? Unlike cats, which twist and bend their torsos to turn upright, lizards swing their large tails one way to rotate their body the other, according to a recent study that will be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on 29th June in Salzburg, Austria. A lizard-inspired robot, called 'RightingBot', replicates the feat.

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How Do Bees Create Honey?

Honey bees are among nature's most exceptional creatures. These social insects live in bee colonies numbering 40,000-fifty,000 bees; the social structure of a bee colony is exactly defined, with each bee acting completely within the interest of the colony. Bees are vital in the pollination of plants; because they pollinate food crops, bees are instrumental in the production of as abundant as thirty p.c of the food supply in the United States.

 

And bees turn out honey, which is consumed by humans and different animals round the world. Bees are raised commercially for various reasons, however primarily for the honey that they produce. Honey is not an important food for humans, however as a sweetener it's healthier than sugar, and as a food additive it adds flavor to everything from pumpkin soup to barbecue sauce. We tend to even use honey for medicinal purposes.

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The advantages of being first

The paper, "First is Best," recently published in PLoS ONE by Dana R. Carney, assistant professor of management, University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, and co-author Mahzarin R. Banaji, professor of psychology, Harvard University.

 

In three experiments, when making quick choices, participants consistently preferred people (salespersons, teams, criminals on parole) or consumer goods presented first as opposed to similar offerings in second and sequential positions. The authors say their findings may have practical applications in a variety of settings including in consumer marketing.

"The order of individuals performing on talent shows like American Idol. The order of potential companies recommended by a stockbroker. The order of college acceptance letters received by an applicant. All of these firsts have privileged status," says Carney. "Our research shows that managers, for example in management or marketing, may want to develop their business strategies knowing that first encounters are preferable to their clients or consumers."

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DNA sequenced for parrot's ability to parrot

DNA sequenced for parrot's ability to parrot | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists say they have assembled more completely the string of genetic letters that could control how well parrots learn to imitate their owners and other sounds.

 

The research team unraveled the specific regions of the parrots' genome using a new technology, single molecule sequencing, and fixing its flaws with data from older DNA-decoding devices. The team also decoded hard-to-sequence genetic material from corn and bacteria as proof of their new sequencing approach.

 

The results of the study appeared online July 1 in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Single molecule sequencing "got a lot of hype last year" because it generates long sequencing reads, "supposedly making it easier to assemble complex parts of the genome," said Duke University neurobiologist Erich Jarvis, a co-author of the study.

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AI system helps spot signs of copper cable theft

AI system helps spot signs of copper cable theft | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The industrial-scale theft of copper telecommunications cables is a massive problem: in the UK alone, cable worth £770 million was stolen from overhead and buried telephone lines and railway signalling systems last year.

 

Now an artificially-intelligent sensing system is helping to prevent such thefts in the UK, the Adaptive and Resilient Systems workshop in London heard last week.

"It's proven absolutely fantastic," says Luke Beeson, general manager for cable theft prevention at British Telecom (BT). "Police in Kent, London and South Yorkshire have made arrests thanks to the system – and although cables are still being cut, fewer are being stolen because we are getting to the scene quicker. And that means people's phones are back on line faster."

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Heavy use of equations impedes communication among biologists

Most research in biology is empirical, yet empirical studies rely fundamentally on theoretical work for generating testable predictions and interpreting observations. Despite this interdependence, many empirical studies build largely on other empirical studies with little direct reference to relevant theory, suggesting a failure of communication that may hinder scientific progress. To investigate the extent of this problem, we analyzed how the use of mathematical equations affects the scientific impact of studies in ecology and evolution. The density of equations in an article has a significant negative impact on citation rates, with papers receiving 28% fewer citations overall for each additional equation per page in the main text. Long, equation-dense papers tend to be more frequently cited by other theoretical papers, but this increase is outweighed by a sharp drop in citations from nontheoretical papers (35% fewer citations for each additional equation per page in the main text). In contrast, equations presented in an accompanying appendix do not lessen a paper’s impact. Our analysis suggests possible strategies for enhancing the presentation of mathematical models to facilitate progress in disciplines that rely on the tight integration of theoretical and empirical work.

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“Why Do We Have to Learn This Stuff?”—A New Genetics for 21st Century Students

Several years ago, our biology program decided to develop a new second-year “Fundamentals of Genetics” course to replace the third-year course that was our legacy from David Suzuki and Tony Griffiths. Although our new syllabus radically altered how the core concepts are taught, I now think the changes were much too conservative because we'd ignored how drastically the role of genetics has changed. Below I first describe the problems we originally identified and how we addressed them, and then consider the bigger problem of moving introductory genetics courses into the 21st century.

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Eclipse Code Recommenders Proposes Code Based On Bayesian Networks

The idea of the code recommenders is to adjust and filter the set of proposals given when the code proposal key sequence is triggered. By default, Eclipse will show the list of public methods (or fields) in alphabetical order. However, when coding against unfamiliar APIs, or ones with many overloaded methods (Quick! Which of the 6 Date constructors is the right1 one to use?), it is not always clear which one should be called.

 

The code recommenders tool has a database of prior code samples, along with frequencies of the method callers, and uses that to prioritise which method or constructor to prompt for. If most Date constructors use either the zero argument (or single long argument), then these two choices will be presented first, with other ones filtered out. In addition, the proposal can use context sensitive information, so if completing a method call of timezoneOffset = date.get it will prompt the getTimezoneOffset() method as the first selection.

The recommenders project also provides a list of context-sensitive snippets of code. These can be constructed manually, or inferred from existing code samples. As with other Java templates (such as main or syserr), these can be used to quickly implement code.

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Suicide ideation of individuals in online social networks

Suicide is a major cause of death for adolescents in many countries. The impact of social isolation on suicide in the context of explicit social networks of individuals is relatively unexplored. We statistically examined relationships between suicide ideation and user's characteristics using a large data set obtained from a major social networking service in Japan. We found that the number of user-defined communities to which a user belongs to, the intransitivity (i.e., paucity of triangles including the user), and the fraction of suicidal neighbors in the social network, contributed the most to suicide ideation in this order. Age and gender contributed little. We also found similar results for depressive symptoms.

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Tai Chi increases brain size, benefits cognition in randomized controlled trial of Chinese elderly

Scientists from the University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week, reports an article published June 19 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

 

Findings were based on an 8-month randomized controlled trial comparing those who practiced Tai Chi to a group who received no intervention. The same trial showed increases in brain volume and more limited cognitive improvements in a group that participated in lively discussions three times per week over the same time period.

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How ants enlist emergency help

How ants enlist emergency help | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Brazilian "big-headed" ants use chemical trails to drag others into helping them carry food, a study shows.

 

Researchers found that when an ant discovered food that was too large to carry, it immediately set off for the nest, laying a pungent chemical trail.

 

This almost instantly caused hundreds of other ants to rush in and help drag back the oversized snack.

 

The team thinks the species' "chemical breadcrumb trail" is the fastest and most accurate ever recorded.

The findings from this study are reported in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology.

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How Darwin can fight cancer

How Darwin can fight cancer | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

According to a new paper, we could be on the verge of a revolution in treating the most intractable forms of cancer – not via the discovery of a new drug or therapy, but by applying the theories of Charles Darwin.

 

The work is based on the most recent thinking about cancer: that it is a result of a breakdown of cooperation between cells in the body. This breakdown occurs when one of the body’s 200 cell types develops mutations – changes in their DNA – that put the cell’s own interests above the greater good of the body. As our immune system fights the renegade cells, new mutations occur, with the cancer evolving to outwit our defences. And because the cancer cells are distorted versions of our normal cells, they are hard to target and destroy without causing damaging side effects.

Now, however, experts believe that they can use the mathematics of evolution to predict the spread of the disease – and thereby treat it far more effectively. The idea, published in the journal Nature, is the brainchild of two major figures. One, Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is the most cited scientist in the world, and an expert in the mutations that cancer cells undergo. The other, Martin Nowak of Harvard University in Massachusetts, has a distinguished record in putting biology on a mathematical basis (as outlined in our co-written book, SuperCooperators).

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Noisy environments make young songbirds shuffle their tunes: Baby songbirds shape their species' playlist

Noisy environments make young songbirds shuffle their tunes: Baby songbirds shape their species' playlist | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

iPod owners aren't the only ones who frequently shuffle their favorite tunes. Baby songbirds do it, too, a new study shows.

 

A baby songbird prefers to learn the clearest versions of songs he hears and uses them to build his personal playlist for life. As a result, noise, from nature and humans, influences which songs a bird learns to sing and can create lasting changes to his species' top tunes, the study's results suggest.

 

"There's been an enormous amount of interest in how anthropogenic factors affect the channels animals use for communication and in particular how human noise affects birdsong," said Duke biologist and study co-author Steve Nowicki. "As far as we know, this is the first study that can link noise to cultural evolution of bird song."

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Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome'

Brain researchers start mapping the human 'connectome' | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A research effort called the Human Connectome Project is seeking to explore, define, and map the functional connections of the human brain. An update on progress in and upcoming plans for the Human Connectome Project appears in the July issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

 

The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Analogous to the Human Genome Project -- which mapped the human genetic code -- the Human Connectome Project seeks to map "the complete, point-to-point spatial connectivity of neural pathways in the brain," according to Arthur W. Toga, PhD, and colleagues of David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles. They write, "For neuroscientists and the lay public alike, the ability to assess, measure, and explore this wealth of layered information concerning how the brain is wired is a much sought after prize."

 

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Predator-Prey Equations Govern Gang Territories

Predator-Prey Equations Govern Gang Territories | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The Lotka-Volterra equations describe population dynamics between competing species. Criminologists have now shown they also describe gang turf boundary formation and violence hot spots. Evelyn Lamb reports.

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Scientists create 'rubber-band electronics'

Scientists create 'rubber-band electronics' | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists have developed a new way to make highly stretchable electronics. The technology could pave the way for bendable laptops and medical devices that can be integrated into the human body.

 

Scientists foresee a time when medical monitoring devices are integrated seamlessly into the human body, able to track a patient's vital signs and transmit them to his doctors. But one major obstacle continues to hinder technologies like these: electronics are too rigid.

 

Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering, working with a team of scientists from the United States and abroad, have recently developed a design that allows electronics to bend and stretch to more than 200 percent their original size, four times greater than is possible with today's technology. The key is a combination of a porous polymer and liquid metal.

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The Dynamics of Influence Systems

Influence systems form a large class of multiagent systems designed to model how influence, broadly defined, spreads across a dynamic network. We build a general analytical framework which we then use to prove that, while sometimes chaotic, influence dynamics is almost always asymptotically periodic. Besides resolving the dynamics of a popular family of multiagent systems, the other contribution of this work is to introduce a new type of renormalization-based bifurcation analysis for multiagent systems.

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Baby robot learns first words from human teacher

Baby robot learns first words from human teacher | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

AT FIRST it's just noise: a stream of incoherent sounds, burbling away. But, after a few minutes, a fully formed word suddenly emerges: "red". Then another: "box". In this way, a babbling robot learns to speak its first real words, just by chatting with a human.

 

Seeing this developmental leap in a machine may lead to robots that speak in a more natural, human-like way, and help uncover how children first start to make sense of language.

Between the ages of 6 and 14 months children move from babbling strings of syllables to uttering actual words. It's a necessary step en route to acquiring full language. Once a few "anchor" words have been established, they provide clues as to where words may start and finish and so it becomes easier for a child to learn to speak.

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