Econophysics and Sociophysics
Workshop organized by P. Argyrakis and S. Solomon
Physics Methods in Economic and Social Systems
Henry Ford, the symbol of the success of the assembly line manufacturing and of the mass production wrote exactly 100 years ago: Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black. In one line this expresses the top-down character of the economy a century ago. Soon, this attitude spilled to the cultural, social and political attitude of the times: the decisions were taken by one person and then delivered to the masses through carefully designed linear chains of cause-effect links.
The way things happen now-a-days is often very different: in crucial instances, the peer-to-peer and bottom-up positive feedback loops lead to auto-catalytic effects that amplify apparently fortuitous events to the scale of revolutionizing the entire system. Not only the effects of certain planned events had totally unexpected outcomes (internet, Google, Wikipedia): some of the revolutionary peer-to-peer bottom-up processes were totally unplanned and in fact problematic (viruses, spam, peer-to-peer networks for the free exchange of copyrighted material etc.) culminating (or may be not yet) with the recent financial, credit and economic crisis.
It is clear that somebody wishing to introduce new economic policies / social norms / technological changes nowadays would not face the same type of problems as faced by Ford (or contemporarily by Roosevelt in the political arena, or Bauhaus movement in architecture). One would have to understand prognose and steer the interactions and feedback loops between traders, customers, producers, service providers, corporate clients, distributors, regulators, taxation systems, pollution legislation, NGO´s etc.
In order to understand and control the evolution of the present mass-phenomena one has to give up the concept of linear causality chains which associate to each effect a cause. One has to think in terms a collective, emergent causality where a complex system of interactions between many autonomous agents can lead to collective phenomena that are completely different from the intentions, scales and scope of the individual components.
In the last decade, the techniques to express, understand and steer such emergent phenomena have been created. Those scientific tools are now ripe to be brought to the use of the society: banking, business, government, environment, peace keeping and restauration etc.
The present workshop will welcome contributions in all applications of Physics in social and economic systems.
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