The aim of this four-year project is to address the question “How does culture emerge as a novel property of social animals?” or, to put it another way “why do we (humans) have culture?”. This is a difﬁcult question. The archaeological record from a few hundred thousand years ago tells us almost nothing about how early humans made the transition from being social animals to cultural.The project is a trans-disciplinary collaboration of six UK university partners: Abertay-Dundee, Exeter, Leeds Met, Manchester, Warwick and UWE (project lead). The project started on 1 September 2007 and will run until 29 February 2012.
We are approaching this question in a radical new way: by building an artiﬁcial ‘society’ of robots; programming the robots with what we believe to be a necessary set of initial conditions (i.e. social behaviours), then ‘free-running’ this robot society. What we then hope to observe is the emergence of ‘proto-cultural’ behaviours - evidence for the very early steps in the transition from social to cultural.
The project poses huge technical as well as philosophical difﬁculties, for instance
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