Social simulation conference 2018

Just before everything got really started after the summer break we (Blanca, Emilie, Maja and Nanda) attended and co-organised (Nanda) the social simulation conference in Stockholm (20-24 Augustus 2018). 

The conference theme was looking in the mirror. Since the social simulation community is about 16 years old, this is a good moment for introspections, external feedback and envisioning where we want to be – reflection. The keynotes and the daily reflections together really shaped this theme.

Bruce Edmonds, the community’s conscious from the very beginning, gave a lot of food for thought when reflected in his keynote on the role of context, and changing contexts, something that is rarely modelled (Link to his talk). Milena Tsvetskova, a computational social scientist, shared her work on large-scale online experiments and made us all wonder why the social simulation community is segregated from the computational social science / data science community, as social simulation and agent-based modelling are just as much part of the computational social science methods (link to her talk). Julie Zahle, philosopher of social sciences, argued about agent-based computational modelling is not and should not be committed to methodological individualism, making us think whether we actually do what we say resulting in a lively discussion (link to her talk). Every day was closed by reflecting together on that day, but also how we would like our community to progress in a year’s and in 5 years’ time. It felt like sitting in a living room with family, chatting. Very relaxed, relevant and open.

The sessions in between were nicely diverse, ranging from archaeology to education to computational economics etc. What was very noticeable was the increase in focus on social-ecological. Also, the great interest in both more realistic and theoretically grounded representations of human behaviour we very much liked. It feels like a home to have a great diversity of models and research questions, however at the base all are grounded in complex adaptive systems. And lastly, it was a pleasant surprise to see so many presentations sharing their work on Lab experiments and ABM. Something that when we* started in 2012, were a rarity.

Overall the conference was a big success, we shared, welcoming and engaging students and researchers from diverse disciplines. We discussed, we agreed and disagreed, we had a great time. Now, having our heads filled with thoughts about how next year(s) model(s) can be shaped, e.g. by including contexts, building forth on each other’s models and engaging with relevant other communities.

Link: conference website, European Social Simulation Association (ESSA)


*AgentEx project  (Nanda and Maja together with Therese Lindahl and Caroline Schill)

Conference dinner – aperativ!