On Cooperation

In recent decades, there is rich evidence that cooperation rather than competition is a strategy associated with long-term survival of life. 

Lynn Marguilis and Dorian Sagan point to evidence that mitochondria and chloroplasts (organelles found in multicellular organisms such and plants and animals) were originally independent organisms that formed cooperative relationships with other organisms to suggest that cooperation is fundamental to life as we know it. 

Computer programmers have sought to take interaction to a purely abstract level by organizing contests in which programs seek to interact with each other to “win.” In these contests, a strategy called “tit-for-tat” has proven very successful. The strategy is quite simple: the first time you interact with another, cooperate. Remember whatever the other did, and do the same thing back when you interact again. So, the result is one cheats cheaters and cooperates with cooperators. 

In his 2012 book, Cells to Civilization, Enrico Coen observed that “things” that are close to each other interact more intensely than things that are separated. In this close interaction there comes to be connection related to survival. If the things near you survive, then you tend to survive. Coen observed, “it can pay to cooperate if fates are intertwined.”

I come to the inescapable conclusion that in today’s society, with economies, ecosystems, weapons, and cultures connected globally; our fates are intertwined with every other individual in the world.