SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed

EVOLUTION IS OFTEN PRESENTED AS A STRICTLY COMPETITIVE ENDEAVOR This point of view has had serious implications for the way we see the mechanics of both science and culture But scientists have long wondered how societies could have evolved without some measure of cooperation And if there was cooperation involved, how could it have arisen from nature red in tooth and clEVOLUTION IS OFTEN PRESENTED AS A STRICTLY COMPETITIVE ENDEAVOR This point of view has had serious implications for the way we see the mechanics of both science and culture But scientists have long wondered how societies could have evolved without some measure of cooperation And if there was cooperation involved, how could it have arisen from nature red in tooth and claw Martin Nowak, one of the world s experts on evolution and game theory, working here with bestselling science writer Roger Highfield, turns an important aspect of evolutionary theory on its head to explain why cooperation, not competition, has always been the key to the evolution of complexity He offers a new explanation for the origin of life and a new theory for the origins of language, biology s second greatest information revolution after the emergence of genes SuperCooperators also brings to light his game changing work on disease Cancer is fundamentally a failure of the body s cells to cooperate, Nowak has discovered, but organs are cleverly designed to foster cooperation, and he explains how this new understanding can be used in novel cancer treatments Nowak and Highfield examine the phenomena of reciprocity, reputation, and reward, explaining how selfless behavior arises naturally from competition how forgiveness, generosity, and kindness have a mathematical rationale how companies can be better designed to promote cooperation and how there is remarkable overlap between the recipe for cooperation that arises from quantitative analysis and the codes of conduct seen in major religions, such as the Golden Rule In his first book written for a wide audience, this hugely influential scientist explains his cutting edge research into the mysteries of cooperation, from the rise of multicellular life to Good Samaritans With wit and clarity, Nowak and Highfield make the case that cooperation, not competition, is the defining human trait SuperCooperators will expand our understanding of evolution and provoke debate for years to come.
SuperCooperators Altruism Evolution and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed EVOLUTION IS OFTEN PRESENTED AS A STRICTLY COMPETITIVE ENDEAVOR This point of view has had serious implications for the way we see the mechanics of both science and culture But scientists have long wo

  • Title: SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed
  • Author: M.A. Nowak Roger Highfield
  • ISBN: 9781439100189
  • Page: 401
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “SuperCooperators: Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed”

    1. This book tops among my readings in 2016, not only it gives an overview of a very successful research career but also provides insights into ideas which connect many of our intuitions. The text is very well written with internal consistency and pointers to research papers which actually helped me implement some of the simulations author discusses in detail. Finally, Nowak broadens the scope of his research by connecting it to significant questions of our time, namely climate change and significa [...]

    2. You are much, much better off just reading his papers. Even if you're not so mathematically minded, skim the equations and just read them. I found all the memoir and fluff boring and pointless. Nowak's ideas are brilliant, but he is at his core a scientific writer.

    3. Super Cooperators is a book about a mathematician who develops a mathematical model to describe how cooperation might evolve out of the conditions of classical Darwinian natural selection. It's a fascinating topic described in a somewhat cloying manner. The results are fascinating: I was particularly surprised to learn about the evolutionary model of cooperative and anti-cooperative generational "waves" described in his genetic programming experiment in the first chapter, and intrigued by some o [...]

    4. This was a fantastic read. This was a fun book to read. The premise of the book is a subject that theologians have dealt with for a lot longer than any other field of study. The title says it all. One of the toughest problems faced by many an atheist is the ability to articulate altruism. I can't say that I did a literature review of what has been written out there on the matter. What I can say is this is a good primer for anyone keen to explain altruism using mathematical modeling. I was expect [...]

    5. The book gives a good overview of the application of mathematical biology to the study of cooperative behavior in nature. Before reading the book, I thought that the selfish gene theory was what was still believed. The book shows that selfish gene theory in the form of kinship selection does play a small role in evolution and that much of what was thought to be kinship selection can be ascribed to selection at the group level. There are in all five mechanisms that are currently known that allow [...]

    6. An amazing book.Throughout the book, Nowak keeps the style light and the reader entertained, by drawing on his life-long experience in the field of game theory, in which he has worked together with academics and mathematicians to distill the foundations of what it is that makes us cooperate - and what makes us defect.A highly entertaining and enjoyable read, and a must-read for anyone interested in the science of cooperation!

    7. The last chapter/epilogue was, as with most epilogues, a little disappointing and sort of worthless. From the chapter and a bit I read of Nowak’s other book (Evolutionary Dynamics), his gift is in explaining mathematics with numbers and formulas, and probably not in conveying it to the lay audience only with words. SuperCooperators is a math-phobic book, banishing almost all numbers and formulas—the fascinating parts!—and replacing them with banal, vague, and ultimately unsatisfying glosse [...]

    8. Um livro longo, em que a trajetória científica e como pesquisador do primeiro autor é contada, como pano de fundo para falar de evolução. Mas, não apenas da evolução que acontece nos genes por mutação, mas também outras faces da evolução (como por exemplo a social, a das redes dinâmicas,etc ). O foco do livro é explorar mais um requisito da evolução que é a cooperação, que depende da mutação e da seleção para se manifestar. Particularmente interessante e muito bem explora [...]

    9. Martin Nowak is a professor at Harvard who has published about 40 articles in Nature (!), and this book is about all kinds of problems he has worked on, the main theme is cooperation: how it evolves and propagates in a network of agents. The book is easy to read, requires zero background in math or sciences and tells all kinds of stories about semi-famous people. The fact that the book is so non-technical can be seen as a drawback, too, because understanding Nowak's papers like those published i [...]

    10. My fourth book on evolution - I really had planned to stop at three and then move on to other topics but evolution is much more interesting than I expected. The author is a mathematician and a biologist. Having been a physics major myself, I appreciated the more exacting point-of-view of a mathematician, on a subject that could have easily fallen into the "whirled peas" category. It was interesting to read this book at the same time that I have been reading Time Reborn by physicist Lee Smolin. S [...]

    11. I guess that after 'Evolutionary Dynamics' this one could only disappoint. This is a bad example of presenting your complicated field off research to the broad public. Removing all the equations out of ED was probably fair as most people have no message to this. Though it was not an added value to add a truckload of anecdotes and little histories of all the people involved. Yes, professor Nowak has met everybody in science who is worth knowing, from Dawkins to Hawkins and has written more Scienc [...]

    12. Pretty disappointing. Really, it seemed to be almost content-free, after the initial discussion of the Prisoner's Dilemma and the contests organized around the same.Like many "popular science" books, this one paired a researcher and a writer, so the researcher's ideas could be palatable to normal people. Unlike other such books, this pairing was a failure. It seemed like the book was constructed in a way to not include too much math for normal people, but not include too much soft content for th [...]

    13. Actual content is good. However the book is a annoying mixture of presenting mathemathical work on the mechanics of cooperation and defection (which is good) and a near endless series of personal anecdotes that seem designed primarily to give the idea that the Author is a splendid kind of person.Yes I get it, FAMOUS scientists went to the same university he did. He has met many nobel-prize winners. He once got a desk from some famous scientist. He likes to walk in the forest and listen to classi [...]

    14. I thought back and forth between doing 4 or 5 stars. Ultimately, I sided on 5 because the current scoring of the book is lower than it should be.The reason I thought about giving it 4 is because this book has the burden of authors who are too familiar with the subject yet writing for a popular audience, and so they don't go into enough detail or spend enough time working out exactly how game theory works and why it is significant. So the book ends up being too advanced for popular groups and too [...]

    15. Prisoner's Dilemma experiments are not a topic I would expect to ENJOY reading about! Nowak's writing is entirely 'consumable',and, thoroughly entertaining, which causes me to rate this book SupercooperatorshighlyI am engaged in fundraising for a large international development not-for-profit, found the rationale for caring about others across the globe to be compelling. I will reread this book many times, I do hope Nowak's conclusions about the underlying basis for human altruism enter the real [...]

    16. Evolution's "natural selection" is often portrayed as an "every man / organism for himself" battle. Reconciling the selective logic to favor one's own genes over other genes with cooperation (or putting oneself at risk to help others) has been an issue since Darwin. Observations show even in pre-human species cooperation is used, but doesn't necessarily tell us why. The central theme of this book is the use of mathematical modeling and simulations in order to show what kinds of selfish or cooper [...]

    17. The role of cooperation in evolution is certainly a very interesting topic and I'm sure the author has done some great research on it. He left out all the technical and mathematical aspects and instead included a lot of background information and stories, even theology as well as awful of personal memoirs. In the end, there's just too much of all these things that are barely, if at all related to the topic and only slightly interesting.

    18. I'm reading this one based on a recommendation from Rory Sutherland. There's no doubt the cooperation is vital to a thriving society, and Nowak is a mathematical biologist who tries to prove it mathematically. Ok. Thinkers like Mises, Adam Smith, Hayek, did it without the math, and I think they provide a better explanation of human behavior. This book gets preachy about environmental problems, such as climate change and overpopulation. I wish Nowak would explore the contrary evidence, especially [...]

    19. I really enjoyed this book. While his writing style isn't very captivating (and he does go on some personal tangents), you have to stick around for the actual meat of his message, which is that, by applying game theory to evolutionary dynamics, he has identified how *cooperation* is, in fact, a fundamental component of evolution. This applies to humans as much as cancer and cells and fashion and ants. His work spans decades and he collaborates with the most innovative minds of our time to explor [...]

    20. The premise behind Martin Nowak’s Super Cooperators was intriguing: though natural selection is classically portrayed based upon principles of competition, might there be a role for altruism in the evolution and survival of species? Certainly, cooperative relationships continue to form and persist, so how do they ultimately function in the greater scheme of nature?I gave this book more than 50 pages to draw me in—to reveal some novel thought or some new compelling insight. Instead, Nowak too [...]

    21. Bought on book tour, having been given a thank-you store credit and only about 10 minutes to select my prize; I found this instead while I was looking for a recently recced book about Darwin but could not remember title or author. Pretty good pop sci; gets a bit political toward the end for my taste, even though I agree with most of the politics. Starting from an analysis of The Prisoner's Dilemma, the writers take one through a logical progression of exactly how cooperation could evolve at ever [...]

    22. The book is by the researcher/scientist and is written in the first person - a bit unusual. I think he assumes the reader has background in the topics presented.The book does a good job of explaining The Prisoner's Dilemma, reciprocity - direct and indirect, and the power of one's reputation. He also speaks to his computer modeling of interactions related to altruism.The book also does a good job of discussing The Tragedy of the Commons and the implications for the future of the environment and [...]

    23. This book had some of the most insightful stuff about (human) nature I've read in some time. Although I will say it was hard biological and mathmatical slog through the central part of this book.Luckily thats what chapters are for - if you're looking for the layman's summaries and most useful pages - just miss out the "Feats of Cooperation" section which largely focusses on biology and while being totally informative, is not the easiest read.Overall though - Supercooperators is a must read for t [...]

    24. Based on mathematical models, the authors describes five mechanisms for achieving cooperation - repetition, reputation, spatial selection, multilevel selection, and kin selection. A simpler way to describe the book is "variations of the prisoner's dilemma". I am truly impressed with the breadth and depth of variations pursued by the authors and their collaborators, which gives insights (or words) for many real world situations. However, I am not too happy with the style of writing. Actually, it [...]

    25. The books premise and concept was very intriguing to me - that in evolution cooperation between cells and species matters as much as competition. Survival of the fittest also entails natural cooperation. But somehow I found it more difficult to keep interest through the chapters, some were more interesting than others. Perhaps I really only wanted/needed to read the books conclusion and was not interested enough in the long journey to bring together the math, biology and gaming theory that make [...]

    26. One of the world's preeminent game theorists, Nowak shares his own (and colleagues') investigations into whether human beings are prone to cooperate with one another. While competition is built into evolution, Nowak shows that self-interest gives way to cooperation more often than not, and does in humans especially, due to our use of language and other factors. The ideas in this book are interesting and well-conveyed, although there was enough redundancy to make the read a bit frustrating at tim [...]

    27. A bit disappointing for me or, I imagine, for anyone who already has a general grasp of the subject. I was looking for a guide of substance to help me grasp the current state of research and on-going controversies. Instead, we get gossipy anecdotes and hand waving. Not a terrible choice for the less ambitious reader, but here too, I suspect there are better texts in what is, after all, a crowded field.

    28. A game theorists approach on evolution. The book gives a nice introducation and overview on theoretical biology, the intersection of biology and game theory and also on the process of developing scientific theory over decades.Nowak tries to establish cooperation as a fourth pier of Darwins' theory of evolution and - in my eyes - also succeeds in doing so. A must read.

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