To see the Sugarscape in action, you need the Java Run-time plugin (JRE2) on your computer.
The Sugarscape - An Overview
Sugarscape is not a computer game. It is an 'artificially intelligent agent-based social simulation'.
The first generation of these could be attributed to the University of Maryland based economist Thomas Schelling who first presented some remarkable conclusions in his paper titled, "Models of Segregation". Written in 1969, Schilling's and the rest of the social environment modelling fraternity had their options limited by a lack of adequate computing power and a applicable programming mechanism.
The first introduction of many students to agent-based simulations since the early 1990's was in form of the Game of Life by Cambridge mathematician John Conway. Conway's invention was considerably enhanced and applied to the arena of social simulations by J. Epstein & R. Axtell in their book, Growing Artificial Societies
Epstein & Axtell's implementation came to be known as the Sugarscape model and it is from that work that this project derives its name. The Sugarscape refers to the silicon-based society that they created. It included the agents(inhabitants), the environment (two-dimensional grid) and the rules governing the interaction of the agents with each other and the environment. This project is an adoption of their ideas with some modifications.
The Sugarscape seeks to provide to provide a laboratory to Social Science researchers through its model of an artificial society. Our society is currently pre-agricultural and hence nomadic. Agents or citizens move about this two-dimensional grid gathering food, mating with suitable partners, bearing offspring, bartering goods with other citizens, migrating, dying and leaving an inheritance for their survivors.
Researchesr can use the simulation as a testbed, laying out their theory in terms of initial and subsequent states of the Sugarscape. The patterns resulting from the execution of the simulation can be used to confirm or revise their claims. For eg., a thesis about links between population concentrations and soil fertility could be explored by setting varying levels of fertility and noting the corresponding populations that the Sugarscape is able to support.
In another eg., bear & bull strategies and their long-term success in terms of survival, wealth-accumulation and group formation can lead to interesting insights into economic behavior at the systemic or macro-level.
Click one of the buttons to the left or above the applet for detailed information on this project.