Friday, November 20, 3:00 p.m.
Center for Social Complexity Suite
Research Hall, Third Floor

Towards an ABM framework for cultural evolution:
Modeling the emergence of specialized culture-maintaining structures

Peter Froncek,PhD Student
Computational Social Science Program
Department of Computational and Data Sciences
George Mason University

ABSTRACT: I will present a computational agent-based model of cultural evolution. Culture is a complex emergent phenomenon that arises through individual-level social interactions iterated on large scales. Some of the hypothesized causal processes that bring about stable cultural structures are still largely untested. In this work I take an evolutionary approach, implementing the conceptual mechanisms of dual inheritance processes into a genetic algorithm acting on agents' cultural traits. The goal of the model is to elucidate the micro-level dynamics that allow the establishment of culture from a pristine state and to study the roles of learning and symbolic interaction in the process of cultural evolution. Some preliminary results show that cultural coordination and the inception of specialized culture-maintaining structures within the agent population are possible under certain conditions even with limited individual agency and knowledge.