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AISB event Bulletin Item

Social Learning Strategies Tournament

Dear members of the Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour society,

This email is to provide information about a tournament that might be 
of interest to researchers in your area. The tournament has a 
cash prize of 10,000 euro:

We have received funding from the European Commission to organize a 
major international multi-disciplinary tournament on the evolution of
social learning, inspired by Robert Axelrod's famous Prisoner's 
Dilemma tournaments on the evolution of cooperation. In recent years 
there has been a lot of interest (spanning several research fields, 
but especially economics, anthropology, and biology) in the problem 
of how best to acquire valuable information from others. Mathematical 
and computational solutions to this problem are starting to emerge, 
often using game-theoretical approaches. We feel the time is right 
for such a tournament, a sentiment shared by leading researchers in 
the field who are enthusiastic about this project. We have set up a 
committee of world-leading scientists as experts to help us design 
the tournament (Rob Boyd, Marc Feldman, Magnus Enquist, Kimmo 
Erikkson) and other leading authorities in this area of science, 
including Axelrod, have been advising us.   

In the competition, entrants will submit behavioural strategies 
detailing how to respond to the problem of resource gain in a 
complex, variable environment in terms of combinations of individual 
and social learning. Where social learning is involved, entrants will 
be  required to specify effective rules (e.g. conform, imitate the 
most successful individual, copy in proportion to each demonstrator's 
payoff, copy when dissatisfied, etc). Entered strategies will be 
evaluated in two stages, with good performers in pair-wise contests 
going forward to an all-against-all melee. The author(s) of the 
strategy that performs best overall will be presented with a cash 
prize of 10,000 euros at the European Human Behaviour and Evolution 
Society meeting, in St. Andrews, U.K. in April 2009.   

The competition is now running, and has a closing 
date of June 30 2008 and active website:

On behalf of ourselves and the committee we would like to encourage 
you, the members of your laboratories, and your colleagues and 
collaborators, to participate in this competition. Please forward 
this message to anyone you think might be interested. We hope that 
the social learning strategies tournament will increase understanding 
of, and stimulate research on, the evolution of learning, as 
Axelrod's tournament did for the evolution of cooperation.   

Luke Rendell
Kevin N. Laland
University of St Andrews