Geeky fun in Barcelona, part 1 #ssc14

This week I am in beautiful Barcelona for the Social Simulation conference. Not that I can really attest to this city’s beauty – I have never been here before and spent the first two days here almost exclusively in my hotel on campus preparing my paper. This will be a very recognisable experience for frequent conference goers. So Barcelona tourist tips will have to wait until blog posts at the end of the week.

I left my hotel room for two conference events only until now (Wednesday morning): the wine reception and the first keynote. The reception was actually a proper wine tasting, including long speeches about whatever happens in your nose as you taste each wine. It was of course not very surprising that the speaker struggled to keep the attention of the people he just served his produce to, who were struggling not to drown the drink straight away. But it was worth it, the wine was amazing. We were given four wines from a local wine producer, I can definitely recommend having a look at their products. The wine farmer is also experimenting with an archaeologically inspired wine, called Amphora. The clays on his land were used to create large ceramic containers (amphorae) which replace the oak barrels in which the wine matures. Apparently, the result is that the oak barrel taste which sometimes masks fruity and terroir flavours is reduced, and makes place for the amphora flavour (although he struggled to describe what an amphora tastes like since it’s a recent experiment and admittedly I asked a weird question). 

Today I attended the second keynote of the conference, Cesareo Hernandez talking about artificial economics. He argues ABM methods are necessary in economics, largely because his definition of economics demands it. Economics is a social science, according to Hernadez economics inherits complexity from the social part and it demands experimentation because it is a science. This is now generally accepted and experimental economics is part of mainstream economics, although this did not happen without a fight. Economic models now need to incorporate instability, change, and heterogeneous agents. Artificial economics tries to do just that, through computational modelling. These models should also not be created merely for their mathematical beauty but need to be socially relevant. This is something I very much agree with, if only because I understand social relevance far better than maths 🙂 Hernandez argues three key elements should be included in all models: Agents, environments, and institutions. By varying the implementation of these elements, different artificial economies emerge.

Stay tuned for more!



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