Once the team was comfortable with the virtual evolution environment it had set up, it added a new twist: It allowed the robots to share food disks
with each other. If Hamilton’s hypothesis was correct, “successful” virtual robots were likely to be those that were closely related and shared food
with each other; that would help to ensure that at least one of them — and some of the genes of both—would make it to the next round. (Two robots
with a modest amount of food disks would both be more likely to be cut from the simulation, but if one robot gave all of its food to a second robot,
that second robot would likely make the next round.) And indeed,
altruism quickly evolved in the simulation, with greater food-sharing in groups where robots were more related, the researchers report online today in PLoS Biology. The more closely
related the robots, the quicker they cooperated. “It shows how general the [theory] is, whether you are an insect, a human or a robot,” says Floreano.
I use to be into this sort of stuff before. Now why didn’t I try running this experiment myself? I guess at the time, I thought it was a verified truth, rather than a guess with critics. Didn’t do my homework.
But that’s pretty interesting. You can have seemingly counter-intuitive behaviors from the evolution search in the fitness landscape.