Towards Simulating the Foundations of Society

Saturday, February 16, 2013
Room 204 (Hynes Convention Center)
Dirk Helbing , Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland
In order to understand social systems, it is essential to identify the circumstances under which individuals spontaneously start cooperating or developing shared behaviors, norms, and culture. In this connection, it is important to study the role of social mechanisms such as repeated interactions, group selection, network formation, costly punishment and group pressure, and how they allow to transform social dilemmas into interactive situations that promote the social system. Furthermore, it is interesting to study the role that social inequality, the protection of private property, or the on-going globalization play for the resulting "character" of a social system (cooperative or not). It is well-known that social cooperation can suddenly break down, giving rise to poverty or conflict. The decline of high cultures and the outbreak of civil wars or revolutions are well-known examples. The more surprising is it that one can develop an integrated game-theoretical description of phenomena as different as the outbreak and breakdown of cooperation, the formation of norms or subcultures, and the occurrence of conflicts.