How do people behave in a world connected by technology? What mechanisms shape the actions and reactions of large groups? And how could they be explored through controlled experiments? EU-funded researchers have generated new knowledge to inform the development of a behaviour simulator.
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A complex system, where lots of components interact, is more than the sum of its parts its collective behaviour does not necessarily derive in a straightforward way from that of the individuals involved in it. It follows that group size matters when it comes to studying human interactions and their outcomes.
The EU-funded IBSEN project set out to conduct controlled experiments with thousands of volunteers simultaneously, and developed the methodology and tools required to do so. In a bid to advance the understanding of individual and collective behaviour in todays connected world, the researchers hoped to pave the way towards the development of a simulator.
We are going to lay the foundations to start a new way of doing social science for the problems that arise in a society that is very technologically connected, says project coordinator Anxo Sánchez of Madrids University Carlos III. The ability to anticipate human behaviour would open up new possibilities in areas as varied as artificial intelligence and policymaking, economics and game design.
Institutions in Finland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom collaborated on IBSEN, which ended in August 2018. EU funding for this three-year endeavour was contributed through a scheme specifically dedicated to ideas for radically new technologies. This type of grant is one of three streams of Horizon 2020 funding set aside for future and emerging technologies.