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

16/06/2016 Aston University, School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

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


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. 

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Associated people

Simon T. Powers
+44 131 455 2718
Bio-inspired Computing
The Bio-Inspired Algorithms group within the Centre for Algorithms, Visualisation and Evolving Systems is a large and thriving group with interests in nature-inspired computing that include Evolutionary Computing, Hyper-Heuristics, Artificial Immune Systems and Swarm Intelligence.