Human Cooperation (1+1=2.7): Superlinear Group Production in Open-Source Source Software Collaborations and Evolutionary Feedback Selection

Didier Sornette of the Department of Management, Technology and Economics (D-MTEC), ETH Zurich will present a talk at 12:15 p.m., Thursday July 5 in the Noyce  Conference Room at the Santa Fe Institute.

Sornette’s talk is entitled, “Human Cooperation (1+1=2.7): Superlinear Group Production in Open-Source Source Software Collaborations and Evolutionary Feedback Selection.”

Abstract: In the first part of the seminar, we present a new analysis of a representative sample 254 open source software (OSS) projects that show how development activity of successful open innovation projects occurs in productive bursts.

Such bursts are important because they contribute to an overall enhanced effectiveness of the workforce according to a remarkable robust quantitative super-linear productivity law. Thus, it is in the projects’ (and managers’) interest to design organizations that will enable and benefit from bursts.

Based on observations of OSS projects, we generate six design principles to help managers deal with organizational challenges in open innovation:

  • Transparency;
  • Self-censored clans;
  • Emergent technology;
  • Pproblem front-loading;
  • Distributed screening; and
  • Modularity.

In the second part of the seminar, we identify the mechanisms that account for the emergence of strong reciprocity in human cooperation.

By combining an evolutionary perspective together with an expected utility model and agent-based simulations in evolutionary framework, we explain the emergence of fairness preferences and altruistic punishment in voluntary contribution occurring in public good games.

The present work fills the gap between the literature on the theory of evolution applied to cooperation and punishment, and the empirical findings from experimental economics.

The approach is motivated by previous findings on other-regarding behavior, the co-evolution of culture, genes and social norms, as well as bounded rationality.

We find the emergence of two distinct evolutionary regimes that force agents to converge either to a defection state or to a state of coordination, depending on the predominant set of self- or other-regarding preferences.

Moreover, we determine that subjects in laboratory experiments of public goods games with punishment coordinate and punish defectors as a result of an aversion against disadvantageous inequitable outcomes.

We identify disadvantageous inequity aversion as evolutionary dominant and stable in a heterogeneous population of agents endowed initially only with purely self-regarding preferences.

We validate our model using previously obtained results from three independently conducted experiments of public goods games with punishment.

The Santa Fe Institute’s mission is to foster a transdisciplinary research community that endeavors to expand the boundaries of scientific understanding. Its aim is to discover and comprehend the common fundamental principles in physical, computational, biological, and social systems that underlie many of the most profound problems facing science and society today.