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Fidelity and the emergence of stable and cumulative sociotechnical systems

Abstract

The stability of behavior across generations is a definitional feature of culture that is typically seen as an e ect of high cultural transmission delity. With some recent exceptions, however, formal models have rarely been brought to bear on this problem. Using an evolutionary quasispecies model we here explore the connection between delity and the emergence of stable complex sociotechnical organization. We nd that delity determines the \bandwidth” of cultural transmission under selection, but that the process is highly unstable and that high transmission delity in itself does not provide stability. This means that to explain stability we must look to other factors that can sca old the transmission process and prevent crashes. It is suggested that by lowering the rate of transmission errors and providing robustness against the eff ects of errors { which is the main stabilizing factor that we identify { the evolution of sophisticated pedagogical adaptations made the unique human type of generative and exible culture possible.

Authors: Claes Andersson

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