2.4 Artificial Intelligence-based Approaches

Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents
are also available

2.4 Artificial Intelligence-based Approaches

Smith states that the roots of Artificial Intelligence (AI) go back to Aristotle, who first tried to formalize “right thinking.” Smith notes that “[Aristotle’s] syllogisms (three-part deductive reasoning) provided patterns for argument structures that always give ‘true‘ conclusions given ‘true‘ premises. [sic]” Mohsin, Amine, and Majeed note that Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan is one of the earliest proponents of artificial life:

For seeing life is but a motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within, why may we not say that all automata(engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as does a watch) have an artificial life? For what is the heart but a spring, and the nerves but so many strings, and the joints but so many wheels giving motion to the whole body such as was intended by the artificier [sic]?

and further:

By ratiocination, I mean computation. Now to compute, is either to collect the sum of many things that are added together, or to know what remains when one thing is taken out of another. Ratiocination, therefore, is the same with addition and subtraction.

However, little practical work would come of Hobbes’ dream until the dawn of the computer age. The first decades of Computer Science saw steady advance in the field and application of AI. According to Smith, McCulloch and Pitts described artificial neurons in 1943, and eight years later Minsky and Edmons built SNARC, the first neural computer. Also in the 1950s LISP, a popular language family for AI programs, was written, as were checkers and chess playing programs. The emergence of board-game playing programs was a harbinger of future AI-society work, but one not built on for years.

Monolithic AI systems developed from the 1960s to the 1980s, but failed to progress. Weizenbaum states that by 1966 the AI program ELIZA could pass for a human. It proved useful enough that specialized versions of ELIZA were created since, according to Whitby. MYCIN, a domain specific system to diagnosis blood disorders, was running successfully by the late 1970s. Many practical applications were developed, and some some researches focused on developing social simulations. However, the effort to create a broadly credible AI system was not successful.

Computer Science Thesis Index

2.3 Computer Games

Note: This is an excerpt from a draft of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. The introduction and table of contents
are also available

2.3 Computer Games

Advances in computer technology since the 1970s have allowed simulations for fun to be increasingly complex yet still popular. A thorough review of the electronic entertainment field is outside the scope of this thesis. However, a few games covering community control and empire building will be described.

Many computer games have modeled political history by allowing the player to control a state, and therefore implicitly assume that states are the only acting agents. Hammurabi is the earliest example of this. Ahl relates that, though originally written for the Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-800 and made to fit in 400 bytes of memory, the game modeled a city-state and let the player manage land and food. Empire was another such game to be written, by Walter Bright in 1977 for the VAX/VMS computer system. Empire modeled the entire flow of history, from a first small village to global domination. According to Wikipedia, Empire is still popular and modifications for it are still sold.

SimCity was another early computer game that took a different view of history. Unlike Empire, it was consciously designed to use simulation theory. Only half in jest, its creators described it as a “System Dynamic CA [Cellular Automata] Hybrid Discrete Stochastic Monte Carlo Thing” in a book on the work by Dargahi and Bremer. Some of these concepts will be explored later in this thesis; for now, it is enough to say that SimCity assumed that cities were the drivers of history. The model mostly ignored larger affects, viewing growth and chance as being caused by the suitability of a local environment for different types of jobs.

A 1993 article in Computer Games Magazine by Tom Chick states that Sid Meier and a team under his direction wrote Civilization in 1990 to merge the models of Empire and SimCity, and a previous railroad management simulation. Combining SimCity’s complex economic trade engine with Empire’s world-scope, Civilization is considered to be one of the best strategy games ever. However, the statism of previous efforts remained.

Computer Science Thesis Index