Hamilton's Rule: rB > C
r = the genetic relatedness of the recipient to the actor, often defined as the probability that a gene picked randomly from each at the same locus is identical by descent.
B = the additional reproductive benefit gained by the recipient of the altruistic act.
C = the reproductive cost to the individual of performing the act.
In other words, an organism will sacrifice a bit of its own self preservation for the extension of its own lineage, or helping the family out.
Simplistic robots designed by EPFL robotics professor Dario Floreano in conjunction with University of Lausanne biologist Laurent Keller are put to the test to prove Hamilton's Law. At generation 0, the bots could not function well, but at generation 149 they were working together for the most part. And according to Floreano, generation 500 was even more so. The bots contained simulated gene and genome functions that were passed down, or not, from one generation to the next.
The bots are equipped with infrared sensors and set with the task of finding discs, representing food, and moving it to a "nest" location. After each generation, the code from successful robots were mixed together into the next generation. Poor performing robots influence disappeared after a few rounds.
At the end, points were awarded to robots, and the option to share those points for the greater good vs for one's self was given to the bots. The software showed that the bots were more likely to share points with the rest of the group, benefiting the whole family. Keller explains, "This study mirrors Hamilton's rule re-markably well to explain when an altruistic gene is passed on from one generation to the next, and when it is not."
Are the bots following Hamilton's Rule or just being as efficient as possible? I would enjoy seeing what these bots are capable of over a few thousand generations.