Agent_ZeroToward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science

Agent_ZeroToward Neurocognitive Foundations for Generative Social Science

Joshua M. Epstein

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780691158884

Publisher: Princeton University Press


This book introduces a new theoretical entity: Agent_Zero. This software individual, or “agent,” is endowed with distinct emotional/affective, cognitive/deliberative, and social modules. Grounded in contemporary neuroscience, these internal components interact to generate observed, often far-from-rational, individual behavior. When multiple agents of this new type move and interact spatially, they collectively generate an astonishing range of dynamics spanning the fields of social conflict, psychology, public health, law, network science, and economics. The book weaves a computational tapestry with threads from Plato, David Hume, Charles Darwin, Ivan Pavlov, Adam Smith, Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx, William James, and Fyodor Dostoevsky, among others. This transformative synthesis of social philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, and agent-based modeling will fascinate scholars and students of every stripe. Computer programs are provided in the book or available online. This book is a signal departure in what it includes (e.g., a new synthesis of neurally grounded internal modules), what it eschews (e.g., standard behavioral imitation), the phenomena it generates (from genocide to financial panic), and the modeling arsenal it offers the scientific community. For generative social science, this book presents a ground-breaking vision and the tools to realize it.