Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 12/10/2013

Recent papers on political and conflict simulation (October 2013)

Some papers on political and conflict simulation that have been recently added to the Social Science Research Network:

Social simulation models from computational social science are beginning to provide significant advances in terms of implementing more complex social, human, and natural dynamics that are characteristic of how real world countries operate. The MASON RebeLand model presents three innovations: (1) an explicit polity model with politically complete structure and processes; (2) social and natural model components within an integrated socio-natural system; and (3) generative dynamics where insurgency and the state of the polity (stable, unstable, failing, failed, recovering) occur as emergent phenomena under a range of social and environmental conditions. Earlier agent-based models (ABMs) on similar topics have been useful in covering parts of RebeLand’s scope. Three scenarios are demonstrated, showing stable, unstable, and failing polity conditions. The MASON computational system also permits additional experiments and extensions.

  • Voinea, Camelia Florela, Advances in the Simulation-Based Analysis of Attitude Change (September 25, 2012). Voinea, C.F. 2012. “Advances in the Simulation-Based Analysis of Attitude Change”, European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, ISSN 2258-4916 ISSN-L 2258-4916, Volume 1, Issue No.1, pp.iv-xi, September 2012, FSP, University of Bucharest, Romania.

In this paper we provide an overview of the most relevant research work on the simulation of attitudes which evolved in the late 90’s and mainly after the year 2000. The general framework for the modeling, simulation and computational research on attitudes integrates research approaches (both fundamental and applicative) which combine theories from sociology, social psychology, social economics, political science, conflict theories, human-computer interaction areas with complexity theory, computer science, autonomous agents, artificial life, artificial intelligence, machine learning and decision making. One of the main dimensions is that of elaborating agent-based studies and simulations of the attitude dynamics.

The paper lists economic concepts and processes simulated in a real-time computer strategy video game, and examines their treatment and presentation. Economic material found in the game ranges from basic ideas appropriate for elementary students to formal concepts normally taught at the tertiary level. While the literature has not explored these ideas in real-time video games, the paper demonstrates the efficiency and power of learning while playing in an immersive, interactive environment, which makes internalizing economic concepts both intuitive and fun, and thus increase the chances of understanding and retaining the material.




Long before any of us at PAXsims became preoccupied with conflict, development, peacebuilding, or zombies, we loved dinosaurs. Indeed, had you asked me at age six I would have likely told you I wanted to be a palaeontologist (or an astronaut), not a political scientist.

Fortunately, Ezra Sidran—whose background is in military simulation and artificial intelligence—manages to cover both these interests with his current project, Dinosaur Island. The game itself is about, well, dinosaurs:

Dinosaur Island is a 3D computer simulation with herds of sauropods and ceratopsians, flocks of pteranodons, hunting packs of carnivores and authentic plants and trees from over 65 million years ago all controlled by the user. You can think of Dinosaur Island as a digital terrarium in which a balance between the species and their diets must be maintained or the ecosystem will collapse.

It is up to the user to determine how many and what kinds of dinosaurs and plants populate the island. Start off simple with just a few sauropods and some plants; but you better make sure that those big plant-eaters have the right food to eat. Did you know that many of the plants from the Jurassic were poisonous? You also need to make sure that there are some carnivores around to keep those sauropod herds in check; otherwise they will quickly outstrip their food supplies.

However, the development blog makes frequent comparisons with military simulation and modelling, with discussion on such topics as  “creating a combat model for T. rex versus Edmontosaurus regalis,” “new AI enables T. rex to anticipate prey’s future location,” “how a dinosaur is not like a tank,” and “dinosaurs, tanks and line of sight algorithms.”


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