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Generative replication and the evolution of complexity

  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M.
  • Knudsen, Thorbjørn

This paper identifies generative replication as a form of replication which has the potential to enhance complexity in social and biological evolution, including the wondrous complexity in the biological world, and complex social institutions such as human language and business corporations. We draw inspiration from the literature on self-reproducing automata to clarify the notion of information transfer in replication processes. To enhance complexity, developmental instructions must be part of the information that is transmitted in replication. In addition to the established triple conditions of causality, similarity and information transfer, a generative replicator involves a conditional generative mechanism that can use signals from an environment and create developmental instructions. We develop a simple model, a one-dimensional linear automaton that is consistent with our four proposed conditions for a generative replicator. We show that evolution within this model will indeed approach maximal complexity, but only if our four proposed conditions are not violated.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8F-4YN5P82-1/2/abfd68d56c8b0793bbcdcc5457509450
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 75 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 12-24

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:75:y:2010:i:1:p:12-24
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  2. Janet A. Weiss, 1982. "Coping with complexity: An experimental study of public policy decision-making," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 2(1), pages 66-87.
  3. Michael D. Cohen & Roger Burkhart & Giovanni Dosi & Massimo Egidi & Luigi Marengo & Massimo Warglien & Sidney Winter & with comments by Benjamin Coriat, 1995. "Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues," Working Papers 95-11-101, Santa Fe Institute.
  4. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2006. "Dismantling Lamarckism: why descriptions of socio-economic evolution as Lamarckian are misleading," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 343-366, October.
  5. Geoffrey Hodgson & Thorbjørn Knudsen, 2004. "The firm as an interactor: firms as vehicles for habits and routines," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 281-307, 07.
  6. Daniel W. McShea, 1996. "Metazoan Complexity and Evolution: Is There a Trend?," Working Papers 96-01-002, Santa Fe Institute.
  7. Winter, Sidney G, 1971. "Satisficing, Selection, and the Innovating Remnant," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 85(2), pages 237-61, May.
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