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First published July 1 2016

Social Systems and Ecosystems: History Matters

Inman Harvey

Abstract (Excerpt)

In both social systems and ecosystems there is a need to resolve potential conflicts between the interests of individuals and the collective interest of the community. The collective interests need to survive the turbulent dynamics of social and ecological interactions. To see how different systems with different sets of interactions have varying degrees of robustness, we need to look at their different contingent histories. We analyse abstract Artificial Life models of such systems, and note that some prominent examples rely on explicitly a-historical frameworks; we point out where analyses that ignore a contingent historical context can be fatally flawed. Real life studies highlight the role of history, and Artificial Life studies should do likewise.