VORTRAG Marcus Frean:

The origin of money - an evolutionary view in terms of agreeable signals


Money is easy to describe, but how does it come to be the way that it is? Explaining it requires deriving its properties in terms of something more general, rather than justifying them post hoc. For example, the human concept of "reputation" can be seen as "explained" by the broader notion of indirect reciprocity. I will give an account of money that is also built upon indirect reciprocity. I show that money-like use of "worthless" symbols can arise between evolving (or learning) agents with very limited cognitive, and physical, capacities, and with no need for a trusted third party "backing" the currency. Thus money does not seem to require planning, trust, or memory - exactly why it is only in recognisable use by humans is an open question. So the first half of the talk will show that money as a sweet spot in a much larger space of signalling possibilities. It does require an elemental ability to swap things however, and this is not a trivial ability. Swapping requires the relinquishing / gaining of control over assets by two agents simultaneously.  In the second half of the talk I suggest a simple solution, which leads to a variety of  "swap dances": a kind of choreography of cooperation, that follows from two agents independently trying to optimize outcomes while dealing with threat and promise of the other.

Marcus Frean


Ort: s.t. INB Seminarraum (Geb. 64, 1. OG, Raum 17)