Rob Axtell Gives Keynote @ 2016 Duke Forest Conference



Rob Axtell recently gave a keynote talk at the 2016 Duke Forest Conference whose theme was “Economics in the Era of Natural Computationalism and Big Data”. Robs talk was entitled “Is Agent Computing the New Calculus for Social Interactions?” An abstract of his talk can be seen below


In “Games and Economic Behavior” von Neumann and Morganstern famously wrote that “[m]athematical discoveries of a stature comparable to that of the calculus will be needed in order to produce decisive progress in [game theory].” One of these men was a great mathematician while the other a noted mathematical economist. Soon after writing the founding volume of game theory, and before von Neumann’s work on cellular automata, they each worked on digital computing. Given the machines of the day it was natural to conceive of computation as a way to solve equations. Today we use agent computing in a fashion that abstracts from the explicit solution of equations. Is it possible that the new discovery the von Neumann sought for game theory was, in some sense, right under his nose – the digital computer–but that he did not have either the right hardware or software to see such a solution? This and related questions will be examined in this talk.