Francisco C. Santos,

INESC-ID Lisboa and IST


Throughout their life, humans often engage in cooperative endeavors ranging from family related issues to global warming. In all cases, the tragedy of the commons threatens the possibility of reaching the optimal solution associated with global cooperation, a scenario predicted by theory and demonstrated by many experiments. Using the toolbox of evolutionary game theory, I will first address several mechanisms that are able to efficiently promote cooperation. Next, I will discuss an evolutionary and/or social learning dynamics approach to a broad class of cooperation problems in which attempting to minimize future losses turns the risk of failure into a central issue in individual decisions. We find that decisions within small groups under high risk and stringent requirements to success significantly raise the chances of coordinating actions and escaping the tragedy of the commons. We also offer insights on the scale at which public goods problems of cooperation are best solved. Instead of large-scale endeavors involving most of the population, which as we argue, may be counterproductive to achieve cooperation, the joint combination of local agreements within groups that are smaller than the population at risk is prone to significantly raise the probability of success. In addition, our model predicts that, if one takes into consideration that groups of different sizes are interwoven in complex networks of contacts, the chances for global coordination in an overall cooperating state are further enhanced.


Date: 2012-Feb-22     Time: 11:00:00     Room: 04

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