Computer simulations of social decision making

If computers could create a society, what kind of world would they make? Thanks to the work of an ambitious project that adds a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘computer society’, in which millions of software agents will potentially evolve their own culture, we could be about to find out.

By the time it has run its course in August 2007, NEW TIES will have provided food for thought in several fields, and perhaps taken us a step closer to the days Eiben anticipates, when politicians will be able to run simulations on computers to test scenarios (for new tax laws, for example) before carrying them out in real life. “Simulators now allow us to optimise car engines or train timetables,” says Eiben. “But why shouldn’t they help us optimise social decision-making?”

Intriging possibilities from Searching for the soul in the machine at



  1. What a great project! Thanks for mentioning it. I had heard of it vaguely but didn’t know the name of it, and now I can read more. Lots to think about in this arena… Nick Baginsky ( has created autonomous robots that compose their own music (which is fascinating in the same way as elephants that paint), and AmorphicRobotWorks ( has robots that do artistic performances. Simulations of social decisions and creation of a computer-generated culture seem very viable, and quite an interesting possibility! I wonder if they will learn to collaborate voluntarily. I hope they are including Asivov’s Three Laws of Robotics in the programming…this is making the singularity feel a lot closer than 2031! Looks like we won’t have to worry about the lack of young people entering the job force in the next generation–robots will be able to take on entry level jobs, too!

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