Society is not immutable, and it was not drawn randomly from the space of possible societies. People incrementally change the social systems that they participate in toward satisfying their own needs. This process can be conceptualized as a trajectory through the space of societies, whose “attractor” societies represent the systems that participants have selected.
I wrote a paper that implements this idea in simulation and demonstrates some simple results that fall out of it. This work explores the trajectories produced by selfish simulated agents exploring abstract spaces of economic games. It shows that the attractors produced by these artificially selfish agents can be unexpectedly fair, suggesting that the process of institutional evolution can be a mechanism for emergent cooperation.
Frey, S. and Atkisson C. (2020) A dynamic over games drives selfish agents to win–win outcomes Proc. R. Soc. B.28720202630. https://doi.org/fnq2
This paper took me almost 10 years to finish, so I’m very proud to have it out, especially in a venue as fancy as Proc B.