Meeting Summary: The past 50 years of social evolution research has largely been dedicated to explaining the emergence of cooperation. Although aspects of that question remain unsolved, we want to unlock some of the deeper patterns and processes involved in the more general phenomenon of collective behavior. For example, social groups including microbial films, termite colonies, and human societies are remarkably diverse in the ways that they form, function, dissolve, and reform. This diversity is difficult to directly explain with a simple top-down framing of social behavior where de novo emergence is primal: grouping in these species may or may not require the evolutionary scaffolding we usually associate with natural selection. Rather, we need to look at collective phenomena differently, focusing on how information is gained from cognition, signals and the environment, and on how this manifests in the emergence and dissolution of collective behaviors. We want to navigate this vast landscape through a 3-day SFI Virtual Workshop. New perspectives are challenging and risky and may not ultimately take hold, but they can often stimulate new ideas and reinvigorate old ones. Our vision for the Workshop is an opportunity to present and discuss new and potentially unconventional ideas, with careful outlining of relevant problems and questions, history, empirical evidence, even if preliminary, and potential new directions. Beyond the interest in learning and exchanging ideas, we believe that this meeting will provide the seeds for further discussion and potential collaborations and hope to propose a more formal in-person meeting and generate products including recorded seminars or peer-reviewed manuscripts.
US Mountain Time
Michael Hochberg (Université Montpellier II); Mirta Galesic (SFI); Jeremy Van Cleve (University of Kentucky)