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
"Growing Artificial Societies is a milestone in social science research.It vividly demonstrates the potential of agent-based computer simulation tobreak disciplinary boundaries. It does this by analyzing in a unifiedframework the dynamic interactions of such diverse activities as trade,combat, mating, culture, and disease. It is an impressive achievement."
—Robert Axelrod, University of Michigan