Monday, October 07, 2013

The Rise of Civilizations

Have you ever wondered how today's societies have evolved the way they have? A recent paper by Peter Turchin and colleagues explores through a geographically explicit agent-based model such a question. To quote from the paper:
"How did human societies evolve from small groups, integrated by face-to-face cooperation, to huge anonymous societies of today? Why is there so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states? We developed a model that uses cultural evolution mechanisms to predict where and when the largest-scale complex societies should have arisen in human history. The model was simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afroeurasian landmass, and its predictions were tested against real data. Overall, the model did an excellent job predicting empirical patterns. Our results suggest a possible explanation as to why a long history of statehood is positively correlated with political stability, institutional quality, and income per capita."

Full Reference:
Turchin, P., Currie, T. E., Turner, E. A., and Gavrilets, S. (2013). War, space, and the evolution of Old World complex societies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201308825.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Fascinating - thank you for sharing this. I expect it will show up on the syllabus for Dr. Cioffi's class shortly!