Scientific Sense Podcast

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bonobo Facebook

Recent research from Duke University shows that bonobos are much more sophisticated in social networking than humans. Past several thousand years of clan behavior has left the humans with distinct disadvantages in the modern world. In every realm, it has been shown that humans prefer to interact and share with those they know. Discrimination and racism – somewhat crude manifestations of the same deficiency – a proclivity to share with known individuals than those who are strangers, may have a significant negative impact on the world economy.

Bonobos appear to be different. They prefer to share (food in this case) with strangers than known friends and family. This allows them to extend their social network faster than otherwise. This is a highly sophisticated behavior that maximizes long term utility, that most humans appear to be incapable of doing. It has also been shown that bonobos are less likely to share anonymously compared to humans. This further illustrates that the behavior is driven by strategy with an understanding of long term and system effects.The behavior of humans in social networking channels further illustrate this handicap. Most connections seem to clump closely, paralleling clan behavior, indicating that it will be difficult for humans to get rid of this baggage. Xenophobia and prevalent resistance to free markets, trade and immigration are also manifestations of the same issue.

Accelerating social software have not improved the human firmware – that is likely to remain rigid for the foreseeable future, capping economic growth and welfare.

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