poly: Altruism? and Cutting queue delay

From: Richard Schroeppel <rcs@cheltenham.cs.arizona.edu>
Date: Wed Nov 11 1998 - 12:46:26 PST

[[ Also being re-sent. -- Damien S. ]]

> The gene's sociobiological self-interest is always to copy itselves
    better than competing alleles in the population. The highly cooperative
    nature of humans, IMO, results from that fact that by cooperating with
    everyone you meet, you compete better against those you don't meet.
    It's still competition, just a pleasant kind. True altruism doesn't
    work for the replicator, unless it ends up as part of a mating ritual
    or some such.

I think this is slightly off-mark, and the difference matters:
Another way for a gene to succeed is to go to a new unoccupied place and
found a new population. I.e., Pilgrims, Hawaiians, and long ago, Siberians.
The colonizers cooperate to reproduce rapidly in the free niche-- it's
(temporarily) a better strategy than competing against each other.

This seems like a rare, almost trivial, exception to the competition rule.
But real life isn't usually static: the currently occupied niches expand
and contract due to external circumstances like weather, disease, disasters.
Innovative genes (or technology) also make new niches livable. (Space?)
The fraction of the time when cooperation makes sense might well be > 50%.
This will affect the frequency of cooperative (vs competitive) genes.

Airplane boarding & disembarking speed

The airlines are interested in reducing the plane-parked time needed
for loading & unloading passengers. As a too frequent flier, so am I.
Two suggestions:
a) Board passengers in window seats first, rather than back-to-front.
b) When disembarking, passengers in seats should yield to those moving
in the aisle. Presently, we see a block point that starts near the
door and proceeds slowly to the back of the plane. In front of the
block point, the aisle is mostly clear and passengers are exiting
rapidly. In back of the block point, the aisle is jammed with people
who are ready to exit, but blocked. The block point is caused by a
couple of people removing luggage from the overhead bins. We see
people in the aisle politely waiting for the current row of seats to
empty, while stopping dozens of people behind them from either exiting
or unloading their own overhead luggage. If we followed a rule that
the aisle has priority, most of the aisle would empty rapidly, allowing
the process of unloading the overhead bins to proceed in parallel.

Rich Schroeppel rcs@cs.arizona.edu
Received on Fri Nov 13 21:15:41 1998

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