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How can cooperation evolve, if evolution is driven by competition? The way a system is organized has a surprising effect on what wins the evolutionary race. When things are spread out, self-restraint evolves; over-consuming resources is advantageous in the short run, but has negative long-term consequences. When everything can affect everything else, more consumption always has the advantage, right up until it ends in catastrophe for the whole population. We evolved in a world that’s been spread out. We’ve now changed it so that everything’s connected. If we want to avoid the catastrophe, we need to be aware of what’s at stake, and make choices about our survival. Justin Werfel leads the Designing Emergence Laboratory at the Wyss Institute at Harvard. His research focuses on complex and emergent systems, including work in swarm robotics, social insect behavior, evolutionary theory, engineered molecular nanosystems, and educational technology.


About the Speaker

Justin Werfel

Justin Werfel

Justin Werfel leads the Designing Emergence Laboratory at the Wyss Institute at Harvard. His research focuses on complex and emergent systems, including work in swarm robotics, social insect behavior, evolutionary theory, engineered molecular nanosystems, and educational technology.