The Evolution of Cooperative Organization and the Origins of Life

Presented at the Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution held at the 15th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, Cancun, Mexico, July 4th 2016

12 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2016

See all articles by John Stewart

John Stewart

Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group, Center Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Date Written: July 01, 2016

Abstract

"Management" (a system of evolvable constraints) is the key to the transition from non-life to life. This is because management is necessary to overcome the 'cooperation barrier'. This barrier impedes the ability of unmanaged, collectively-autocatalytic organizations of molecular species to evolve into complex, cooperative organizations. The barrier arises because molecular species that would make significant cooperative contributions to the success of an organization will often not be supported within the organization, and because parasites, side reactions and other ‘free-riding’ molecular species will undermine cooperation. As a result, the barrier seriously limits the possibility space that can be explored by these un-managed organizations, preventing open-ended evolution, the evolution of individuality and the transition to life. Management can use its power to overcome the cooperation barrier by ensuring that beneficial co-operators are supported within the organization, and by suppressing free riders. In these ways management can control and manipulate the chemical processes of a collectively autocatalytic organization, producing novel processes that serve the interests of the organization as a whole and that could not arise and persist spontaneously in an un-managed chemical organization. Management is able to harvest benefits that are created by its interventions in autocatalytic organizations where the interventions increase productivity by promoting cooperation. Selection will therefore favour the emergence of managers that take over and manage chemical organizations. The paper defines all relevant ‘biological’ concepts such as cooperation in purely physicochemical terms. Once life emerges, a new cooperation barrier arises each time a new level of organization begins to emerge. Appropriate management must emerge to overcome each barrier, producing the nested hierarchical structure of living processes.

Keywords: Evolution of Cooperation, Major Evolutionary Transitions, Consequence-Capture, Origin of Life, Autocatalytic Organisation, Managed Metabolism

JEL Classification: C71, B52

Suggested Citation

Stewart, John, The Evolution of Cooperative Organization and the Origins of Life (July 01, 2016). Presented at the Workshop on Open-Ended Evolution held at the 15th International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems, Cancun, Mexico, July 4th 2016 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2811492

John Stewart (Contact Author)

Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group, Center Leo Apostel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( email )

Krijgskundestraat 33
B-1160 Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.evolutionarymanifesto.com

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