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From Co-Infection to Cultural Dissonance: New Challenges for Biological and Cultural Evolution

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organized by Ben Althouse, Simon DeDeo (SFI) and Laurent Hébert-Dufrense (Université Laval, Québec)

Abstract. A critical aspect of infectious disease transmission in the modern era is the presence of multiple strains that co-circulate and can co-infect a single individual. The current state of the art for drug treatment studies neglects the co-infection process.

We propose to study the underlying theory of this dynamical network process, and its consequent effects for the evolution and spread of disease. We will tackle two major dimensions of the multiple strain problem: the time scales of infectivity (on the one hand), and the underlying network structure (on the other).

Our results have the potential to further not only the study of biological epidemics, but are likely to have direct relevance to the transmission of ideas between individuals, movement of populations across ecologies, or the spread of adaptive computer viruses on computer networks.

As a final step in our working group agenda, we plan preliminary studies of how theories of co-infection might alter the dynamics of cultural phenomena, including the simultaneous reception of sympathetic or antagonistic ideas, by means of large-scale datasets on human behavior available in both the historical and contemporary record.

Our working group incorporates researchers with expertise in the simulation and mathematical theory of network dynamics, the real-world phenomenology of disease transmission, and the statistical analysis of cultural datasets