Human Simulation as the Lingua Franca for Computational Social Sciences and Humanities: Potential and Pitfalls

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 The MITRE Corporation
  • 2 Boston University and the Center for Mind and Culture
  • 3 University of Agder and NORCE Center for Modeling Social Systems
  • 4 Old Dominion University

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Abstract

The social sciences and humanities are fragmented into specialized areas, each with their own parlance and procedures. This hinders information sharing and the growth of a coherent body of knowledge. Modeling and simulation can be the scientific lingua franca, or shared technical language, that can unite, integrate, and relate relevant parts of these diverse disciplines.

Models are well established in the scientific community as mediators, contributors, and enablers of scientific knowledge. We propose a potentially revolutionary linkage between social sciences, humanities and computer simulation, forging what we call “human simulation.” We explore three facets of human simulation, namely: (1) the simulation of humans, (2) the design of simulations for human use, and (3) simulations that include humans as well as simulated agents among the actors. We describe the potential of human simulation using several illuminating examples. We also discuss computational, epistemological, and hermeneutical challenges constraining the use of human simulation.

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