A Missing Perspective on ABMs: The Developing World

Bonabeau speaks of four main areas of application in which ABMs can be used: flows, markets, organizations and diffusion and organizes his article around these four applications with examples for each. What caught my attention was that most of the examples drawn for these applications relate to the developed world. Technological innovation has clearly been far more rapid and widespread in the developed world which could account for the current uses of ABMs being from developed countries. Granted, the applications of ABMs in developed countries could just as easily be used in developing countries as these face the same issues as developed countries with respect to situations such as traffic jams, evacuation from crowded areas, transit and stock markets among others.

What I would like to see more with ABMs is use of ABMs in developing countries to simulate the way some situations may impact these countries in different ways than developed countries. One example of this can be seen through the application on ABMs by diffusion. Bonabeau describes diffusion as an application for ABMs where “people are influenced by their social context” (7285). The diffusion of education and knowledge in space in developed versus undeveloped countries could be interesting to examine as the processes for this could be very different in these countries and could be performed by very different processes dependent on many factors such as the spread and use of technology such as computers, cell phones or social networks that may exist online or face to face. In a broader context, how might ABMs be applied in development scenarios in developing countries?

Bonabeau, Eric. “Agent-based Modeling: Methods and Techniques for Simulating Human Systems.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99.10 (2002): 7280-7287. Print.

-Outdoor Addict

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