Man on Earth – the challenge of discovering viable ecological survival strategies
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Many previous societies have killed themselves off and, in the process, devastated their environments. Perhaps the most famous of these is that of “Easter Island”. This suggests a grand ...
Many previous societies have killed themselves off and, in the process, devastated their environments. Perhaps the most famous of these is that of “Easter Island”. This suggests a grand challenge: that of helping discover what kinds of rationality and/or coordination mechanisms might allow humans and the greatest possible variety of other species to coexist. As their contribution towards this, the agent community could investigate these questions within simulations to suggest hypotheses as to how this could be done. The particular problem for our community is that of designing and releasing a society of plausible agents into a simulated ecology and assessing: (a) whether the agents survive and (b) if they do survive, what impact they have upon the diversity of other species in the simulation. No other community is currently in a position to explore this problem as a whole. The simulated ecology needs to implement a suitably dynamic, complex and reactive environment for the test to be meaningful. In such a simulation, agents (as any other entity) would have to eat other entities to survive, but if they destroy the species they depend upon they are likely to die off themselves. Up to now there has been a lack of simulations that combine a complex model of the ecology with a multi-agent model of society – there have been complex models of society but with simple ecological representations and complex ecological models but with little of human social complexity in them. In order for progress to be made with humanity’s challenge, we will have to move beyond simple ideas and solutions and embrace the complexity of the socio-ecological complex as a whole. A suitable dynamic ecological model and simple tests with agents are described to illustrate this challenge, as the first steps towards a meaningful test bed to under pin the implied research programme.
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