Simon Powers has been invited to give a seminar at Aston University

Date posted

16 June 2016

Simon Powers will deliver a research seminar about his work on the evolution of institutions.

Abstract Economics, artificial life, and agent-based computing are all concerned with understanding the conditions that make it individually advantageous for self-interested agents to cooperate and produce socially efficient outcomes. Whether or not it pays a self-interested agent to cooperate depends upon the incentives provided by the institutional rules that govern economic interactions between agents. However, defining exactly what an institution is has proven difficult, with authors often talking past each other. Moreover, economics, artificial life, and agent-based computing have all lacked dynamic models of the evolution of institutions. Because of this, they have struggled to determine conditions under which an incentive structure will evolve that promotes cooperation, division of labour, and trade. Here I will address this by presenting a dynamic model of institutional evolution, which views institutions as political game forms that generate the rules of a group’s economic interactions. This modelling framework takes account of the fact that agents are likely to try to create institutional rules that benefit themselves at the expense of others. As a specific example, I will present an agent-based economic model of the evolution of institutional rules during the Neolithic origin of agriculture. I will then move on to discuss possible applications of institutional evolution to agent-based computation.