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      Evolution of music by public choice.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Music, Models, Theoretical, Humans, Esthetics, Cultural Evolution, statistics & numerical data, Consumer Behavior, Computer Simulation, Algorithms, Acoustic Stimulation

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          Abstract

          Music evolves as composers, performers, and consumers favor some musical variants over others. To investigate the role of consumer selection, we constructed a Darwinian music engine consisting of a population of short audio loops that sexually reproduce and mutate. This population evolved for 2,513 generations under the selective influence of 6,931 consumers who rated the loops' aesthetic qualities. We found that the loops quickly evolved into music attributable, in part, to the evolution of aesthetically pleasing chords and rhythms. Later, however, evolution slowed. Applying the Price equation, a general description of evolutionary processes, we found that this stasis was mostly attributable to a decrease in the fidelity of transmission. Our experiment shows how cultural dynamics can be explained in terms of competing evolutionary forces.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Experimental study of inequality and unpredictability in an artificial cultural market.

          Hit songs, books, and movies are many times more successful than average, suggesting that "the best" alternatives are qualitatively different from "the rest"; yet experts routinely fail to predict which products will succeed. We investigated this paradox experimentally, by creating an artificial "music market" in which 14,341 participants downloaded previously unknown songs either with or without knowledge of previous participants' choices. Increasing the strength of social influence increased both inequality and unpredictability of success. Success was also only partly determined by quality: The best songs rarely did poorly, and the worst rarely did well, but any other result was possible.
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            The evolutionary origin of complex features.

            A long-standing challenge to evolutionary theory has been whether it can explain the origin of complex organismal features. We examined this issue using digital organisms--computer programs that self-replicate, mutate, compete and evolve. Populations of digital organisms often evolved the ability to perform complex logic functions requiring the coordinated execution of many genomic instructions. Complex functions evolved by building on simpler functions that had evolved earlier, provided that these were also selectively favoured. However, no particular intermediate stage was essential for evolving complex functions. The first genotypes able to perform complex functions differed from their non-performing parents by only one or two mutations, but differed from the ancestor by many mutations that were also crucial to the new functions. In some cases, mutations that were deleterious when they appeared served as stepping-stones in the evolution of complex features. These findings show how complex functions can originate by random mutation and natural selection.
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              Evolution of digital organisms at high mutation rates leads to survival of the flattest.

               C. Wilke,  J. Wang,  C Ofria (2001)
              Darwinian evolution favours genotypes with high replication rates, a process called 'survival of the fittest'. However, knowing the replication rate of each individual genotype may not suffice to predict the eventual survivor, even in an asexual population. According to quasi-species theory, selection favours the cloud of genotypes, interconnected by mutation, whose average replication rate is highest. Here we confirm this prediction using digital organisms that self-replicate, mutate and evolve. Forty pairs of populations were derived from 40 different ancestors in identical selective environments, except that one of each pair experienced a 4-fold higher mutation rate. In 12 cases, the dominant genotype that evolved at the lower mutation rate achieved a replication rate >1.5-fold faster than its counterpart. We allowed each of these disparate pairs to compete across a range of mutation rates. In each case, as mutation rate was increased, the outcome of competition switched to favour the genotype with the lower replication rate. These genotypes, although they occupied lower fitness peaks, were located in flatter regions of the fitness surface and were therefore more robust with respect to mutations.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                22711832
                3409751
                10.1073/pnas.1203182109

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