Growing Artificial Societies: Social Science from the Bottom Up

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Brookings Institution Press, 1996 - Social Science - 208 pages
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""Growing Artificial Societies" is a milestone in social science research. It vividly demonstrates the potential of agent-based computer simulation to break disciplinary boundaries. It does this by analyzing in a unified framework the dynamic interactions of such diverse activities as trade, combat, mating, culture, and disease. It is an impressive achievement."
-- Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan How do social structures and group behaviors arise from the interaction of individuals? "Growing Artificial Societies" approaches this question with cutting-edge computer simulation techniques. Fundamental collective behaviors such as group formation, cultural transmission, combat, and trade are seen to "emerge" from the interaction of individual agents following a few simple rules.

In their program, named Sugarscape, Epstein and Axtell begin the development of a "bottom up" social science that is capturing the attention of researchers and commentators alike.

The study is part of the 2050 Project, a joint venture of the Santa Fe Institute, the World Resources Institute, and the Brookings Institution. The project is an international effort to identify conditions for a sustainable global system in the next century and to design policies to help achieve such a system.

"Growing Artificial Societies" is also available on CD-ROM, which includes about 50 animations that develop the scenarios described in the text.

"Copublished with the Brookings Institution"

  

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Contents

Life and Death on the Sugarscape
21
The Agents
23
Artificial Society on the Sugarscape
26
Wealth and Its Distribution in the Agent Population
32
Social Networks of Neighbors
37
Migration
42
Summary
51
Sex Culture and Conflict The Emergence of History
54
Summary and Conclusions
136
Disease Processes
138
Immune System Response
140
Disease Transmission
145
Digital Diseases on the Sugarscape
147
Disease Transmission Networks
150
Conclusions
153
Some Extensions of the Current Model
162

Sexual Reproduction
55
Cultural Processes
71
Combat
82
The ProtoHistory
92
Sugar and Spice Trade Comes to the Sugarscape
94
A Second Commodity
96
Trade Rules
101
Markets of Bilateral Traders
108
Emergent Economic Networks
130
Social Computation Emergent Computation
133
Other Artificial Societies
165
Formal Analysis of Artificial Societies
176
Generative Social Science
177
Looking Ahead
178
Software Engineering Aspects of Artificial Societies
179
Summary of Rule Notation
182
StateDependence of the Welfare Function
186
References
190
Index
203
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About the author (1996)

Robert L. Axtell was formerly research associate in the Brookings Foreign Policy Studies program.

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