Homo-economicus vs biological adaptation
Agree entirely with the general thrust of this article, and evolution is much more complex than even this article explicitly acknowledges.
Fitness of any phenotypic trait is something of a sum over life history of the positive and negative impacts of that trait (and any related traits by their degrees of relatedness).
In considering the term life history, one must be cognisant of all the variations in environment encountered, in both space and time.
When considering the aspect of time, it is the time that the particular allele enabling this particular phenotype actually remains in the population. Thus an allele that has a small negative impact most of the time, but every 100 generations results in a probability of .9999 survival in some specific event that occurs on average every hundred generations, might still be strongly selected in a population. Similar numbers can apply with respect to particular habitats encountered. A population may be the only population that can successfully survive in the conditions at some particular site, and from the secure physical base, spread to surrounding areas even though in many other senses other species would normally out compete them (if not for that secure base area where they have no competition). Sometimes those specific events or contexts are not at all obvious.
So evolution in this sense is very much like a hologram – where every bit in the image contains a little bit of information and influence from the entire object being imaged. Evolution deals with this summation of probabilities (positive and negative) across all aspects of space and time that particular organism exists in.
Similarly in the mimetic context.
The dimensionality of the resulting probability maps, the dynamic pressures resulting from constantly evolving n-dimensional contours, is amazing to contemplate, and even more interesting to experience as the diversity of organic, cultural and intellectual life we exist in.
In this sense, given that exponential expansion of our ability to generate and manipulate information, coupled with our exponential expansion of ability to automate processes at ever higher levels, is leading us to the situation where the entire concept of markets and exchange is now becoming the greatest existential risk facing our species.
When one looks at evolution from a systems complexity perspective, it is possible to characterise all major advances in complexity of living systems as the emergence of new levels of cooperation, with requisite stabilising strategies (as per Axelrod et al)
We can relatively easily generate fully automated systems that would deliver all the goods and services required to allow any and all individuals to do whatever they responsibly choose, but producing such a system takes most of those people outside the economic system and destroys much of the economic value present in our current exchange based (scarcity based) systems. Thus our focus on exchange now threatens to produce social pressures that put everyone in danger.
Competition alone cannot get us out of this hole, it requires massive cooperation, with all the attendant strategies to effectively prevent overrun by cheating systems (something our current economic system has failed completely to do).