Published: Sep 12, 2007
Computers Used To Explain Primate Behavior
by Staff

British researchers have used artificially intelligent computer agents to explain the complex behavior of primates.

The researchers, led by Joanna Bryson of the University of Bath, used such agents to investigate how dominant macaques make it to the safer positions at the middle of their troop without seeming to be pre-occupied with getting there.

Using agents programmed with two rules -- stay in a group for safety and pester subordinates until they move away -- scientists found more dominant agents would make their way to the center of the group.

This kind of agent-based modeling is really a new way of doing science, said Bryson, who said the process allows scientists to invent and remove behaviors to test the explanations of what is seen in nature.

Using modeling you can vary the external environmental factors to see if they have any effect on behavior, she said. You can do this for many generations in a few hours and see whether new behavior is adaptive.

The research by Bryson and graduate student Hagen Lehmann appears in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.  (c) UPI

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