Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers for this year’s conference are Prof. Nigel Gilbert (University of Surrey, UK) and Prof. Aditya Ghose (University of Wollongong, Australia).

Prof. Nigel Gilbert’s talk:

TitleAgents might not be people

Abstract : In most agent-based systems, the agents are intended to represent individual people.  This is not surprising as we tend to think of the social world as being driven by the actions of individuals (so-called ‘methodological individualism’).  On occasion, however, we develop models in which the agents represent firms, nation states or other collectivities, without considering deeply the implications of doing so.

In this talk, I shall discuss the opportunities for agent-based models that are based on non-human agents, using several examples.  First, I outline the defining features of an ‘agent’.  I then consider a model, the Simulating Knowledge dynamics of Innovation Networks (SKIN) model, in which the agents are firms, considering the ways in which the firms are similar to and different from human actors.  Then I describe a simulation of academic science in which scientific papers, normally considered to be objects rather than actors, can usefully be represented as agents, and interpret this model in terms of actor-network theory.  Finally, I describe recent work on modelling social practices for which theory sees people as being the substrate on which social practices are carried, and discuss the perennial issue of the extent to which it is useful to see the macro level emerge from the micro, and the micro being affected by the macro.  I conclude by recommending that we should be readier to consider non-human agents when modelling the social world.

Biography : Nigel Gilbert is Director of the Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS) and Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey, UK.  He has been involved in the agent-based modelling of social phenomena since the early 1990s.  He helped to establish the European Social Simulation Association (ESSA) and is founding editor of the Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS).  In addition to the methodology of agent-based modelling in the social sciences, his research interests cover the processes of scientific discovery and innovation, sociological aspects of environmental management, and the sociology of the internet.  His publications include Simulation for the Social Scientist (with Klaus G. Troitzsch, Open University Press, 2005) and Agent-Based Models (Sage, 2008).  See

Prof. Aditya Ghose’s talk:

TitleAgents in the era of big data: What the “end of theory” might mean for agent systems

Abstract : Our ability to collect, manage and analyze vast amounts of data has led some to predict the demise of theory. This has important implications for research in agent systems. It can mean that specifications of agent intent, or of agent behaviour, or the norms that constrain agent behaviour can be learnt from data and maintained in the face of continuous data streams. I will offer some examples of how the agents community is beginning to leverage data in this fashion, and what the challenges might be in the future.

Biography : Aditya Ghose is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Wollongong. He leads a team conducting research into knowledge representation, agent systems, services, business process management, software engineering and optimization and draws inspiration from the cross-fertilization of ideas from this spread of research areas. He works closely with some of the leading global IT firms. Ghose is President of the Service Science Society of Australia and Vice-President of CORE, Australia’s apex body for computing academics. He holds PhD and MSc degrees in Computing Science from the University of Alberta, Canada (he also spent parts of his PhD candidature at the Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and the University of Tokyo) and a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. In his spare time, Ghose explores how computer science can contribute to a better understanding of the history of civilization.