I have been asked to organise a session of the AgentLink2 ABSS SIG in
Prague on 11th July, on the topic of `Social Policy Analysis'. The
main purpose of the session is to launch a Social Policy Analysis
Working Group within the SIG. I have some ideas about how to organise
the session, and about issues related to the proposed WG, briefly
set out below, but it would be very useful to know:
* How many people are interested in the WG.
* What those interested in the WG would like it to do.
* How many are planning to attend the session.
* How those planning to attend would like the session to be organised.
I would be very grateful for any responses (to me if you prefer, but
sending them to the mailing list would help to get a preliminary
discussion going) on these or related questions.
My own preference would be for the session to concentrate on
discussion rather than presentations. If this is generally acceptable,
I would give a brief introduction setting out some possible foci for
discussion and for the activities of the WG, after which
participants would divide into small groups to discuss whichever of
these issues generated most interest. (If I get sufficient responses,
some of these topics could be identified in advance, but topics could
also be identified during the session itself.) These small group
discussions would be folllowed by a report back from each group, and a
general discussion aimed at:
(1) Deciding on one or possibly two focal application areas for the WG.
(2) Agreeing on the intended results of the WG's activities (e.g. one
or more research or review papers, an application for EU funding).
(3) Producing an outline plan for the WG's activities.
Despite the suggestion above that we concentrate on discussion, a
small number of presentations would certainly be welcome. If anyone is
interested in giving a presentation to the session, describing
completed, current or prospective work on ABSS in relation to social
policy analysis, please let me know.
Possible discussion topics (not mutually exclusive) for the 11th July
Comments and additions would be very welcome.
* Possible synergies between the Social Policy Analysis WG and the
existing WG on Software Engineering for Highly Scaleable Multi-Agent
Systems. This WG is focused on a design project from Philips in
Eindhoven, aimed at applying ABSS techniques to the development of
cooperating, intelligent consumer appliances.
* How central is the investigation of actual or potential conflict
between agents (i.e. interaction between agents with fundamentally
opposed goals) to ABSS?
* The potential role of ABSS in participatory approaches to the
management of environmental and social problems (e.g. as a way of
enhancing the use of scenario analysis and role-playing games).
* The uses of ABSS in institutional design.
* ABSS as a tool for foreseeing possible problems/disasters, and
charting ways to avoid them.
* Approaches to the validation of ABSS models. (I'm particularly
interested here in Scott's use of `statistical signatures'.
* The comparative method in ABSS policy analysis and validation. (What
I mean here is that ABSS models may be better at comparative than
absolute prediction --- `Policy A will produce a higher value of x
than policy B' rather than `Policy A will produce between 30 and 40
units of x'; and that similarly, validation might proceed by comparing
pairs (or larger sets) of parameter settings in a model with
corresponding real-world situations and checking that the differences
are at least consistent in direction.
* ABSS and `socioinformatics'. (Development of information and
communication technology provides the potential for a vast amount of
social, economic and historical information to be gathered, organised
and analysed for both practical and academic purposes. How can ABSS
techniques benefit from, and contribute to, the development of a
discipline of `socioinformatics' aimed at turning this information
into useful knowledge.)
* Common Pool Resource problems as a possible application area for the
* Social exclusion as a possible application area for the WG.
* The wired society as a possible application area for the WG.
* Globalization as a possible application area for the WG.
Nick Gotts [log in to unmask]
Macaulay Land Use Research Institute
Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
All views expressed are mine, not MLURI's.