Individual based models of cultural evolution | Alberto Acerbi

Individual based models of cultural evolution

I started my academic career as a modeller (in fact, as an artificial life/robotics researcher: this is my first publication ever), and I continue to believe that computational models are a fundamental tool to develop research in cultural evolution. On the one hand, models are excellent theory-generating machines: they allow you to formalise your thought experiments, and to explore their consequences, which is sometimes impossible by intuition alone. On the other, models make your theories explicit and directly testable by other researchers. Recent topics include whether interventions increasing trust on reliable news are more effective than interventions decreasing trust on fake news (yes, as reliable news is much more abundant than fake news), if cultural stability can be obtained without copying or selection (yes), or whether conformity can be detected from population-level effects (not always). I am also particularly interested in the opportunities offered by tools like Git or R Markdown to document step-by-step the development of models, as I did for example here. I have recently published an open access manual on individual-based models in cultural evolution: Individual-based models of cultural evolution. A step-by-step guide using R. A physical version is available with Routledge.

Alberto Acerbi

Cultural Evolution / Cognitive Anthropology / Individual-based modelling / Computational Social Science / Digital Media