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PDF 1.8 MB
Pages 649-656
First published 30 July 2014

The Evolution of Learning Under Environmental Variability

Kai Olav Ellefsen

Abstract (Excerpt)

An important unanswered question within the evolution of intelligence is how evolved learning efforts relate to environmental characteristics. Through simulated evolution of simple learning agents, we study two different models of the relationship between environmental variability and evolved learning. We begin with a recently proposed model (the "pqmodel"), which suggests that 1) unreliable reinforcing feedback select against learning and 2) a fixed environment selects for innate strategies, whereas a changing environment selects for learned strategies. The other model we study proposes that, in contrast with point 2 above, intermediate values of environmental stability select for learning, whereas both too stable and too variable environments will select against it. We harmonize these seemingly conflicting models by evolving learning agents across a wide range of environments, varying in levels of stability and reliability of stimuli. Based on our findings, we propose a revised model for how learning evolves under different levels of environmental variability..