I am neither a scientist nor an economist, not having the academic qualifications. Nevertheless, I consider my approach to my hobby as "scientific", and the output to be of some scientific merit. In my hobby, I have been building tick-based dynamic computer models since 1966 (a billiards table). Starting in 2009, my interest has turned towards Biophysical Economics and the dynamics of sustainable economies. Agent-based models (ABMs) are dynamic systems in their own right that can function in a manner analogous to real-world economies, and so can provide substantial science-based insight into the problems currently besetting our global community. I have made presentations at several conferences, and the material presented is available below.
Degrowth 2012, Montreal, Q.C.,Canada
This was a life-changing event for me as I met a number of people who shared my deep concerns for the future, and I learned about three organizations with which I have since aligned myself: Foundation Earth; Society for Ecological Economics (in three incarnations as ISEE, CANSEE, and USSEE); and the International Society for Biophysical Economics (ISBPE). The third is the one that most closely aligns with my views on why modern economic theory is failing, and how to fix it.
I submitted a proposal for an "artistic presentation" at the Degrowth conference. It was not accepted, but I took it with me anyways to show to others. It was well received by those with whom I shared it, leading to follow-on collaboration. The proposed display consisted of several panels composed of graphics associated with my ModEco program, and an explanatory handout in English, French and Spanish. The display is available here in Powerpoint form, with the handouts.
MABS 2013, St Paul, MN, USA
The international workshop on the theory of Multi-Agent-Based Systems (MABS) held their 14th meeting in St Paul, Minnesota, USA in 2013. At that session of professional and practiced model makers I had proposed to present a challenge to other model makers to build a model of a sustainable economy. I was pleased that my proposal about ModEco was accepted for presentation.
ISBPE 2013, Burlington, VT, USA
The Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, in Burlington, Vermont, organized a joint meeting of the US Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE) and the then informal and nascent Biophysical Economics (BPE) association in June of 2013. I teamed up with a couple of people from Foundation Earth whom I had met in 2012 in Montreal, and presented (a) a demonstration of the ModEco software, having four laptops running in the mezzanine of the complex during coffee breaks, and (b) a poster on global mega-concerns.
CANSEE 2013, Toronto, ON, Canada
The CANSEE conference for 2013 was held at York University in Toronto, Ontario. One of the hypotheses coming out of my "challenge" at MABS 2013 was the utter incompatibility of the twin goals of (a) sustainability; and (b) what is commonly called distributive justice. The existence of this incompatibility is a distressing position to argue, but examination of the issue highlights it as a REALLY SERIOUS ISSUE, and one that seems to be totally overlooked by economic theorists. It arises out of the collision of two potent dynamics: (a) the evolutionary drive to produce as many offspring as possible; and (b) the phenomenon of natural population controls when a system is at carrying capacity. The effects of this collision are merely masked, at the moment, by the immense unsustainable outflow of energy derived from over 60 million barrels of oil consumed on this planet per day.
Based on the Perpetual Motion Machine (PMM) - the only sustainable model economy achieved so far using ModEco.
AMMCS 2015, Waterloo, ON, Canada
There is a series of large conferences that travel the world under the name "Applied Mathematics, Modeling and Computational Science", or AMMCS. At AMMCS 2015 there were almost 1,000 papers presented on a variety of topics around scientific models. If an attendee is doggedly determined, and has the stamina, one can see as many as 80 presentations on dense mathematical concepts. I managed to take in about 30 in the four days of intense activity. I have never before seen a conference so large, and so varied in interests. Within that conference there was a "workshop" with a narrower focus, in which I made a presentation on the so-called BDY model (Bennatti-Dragulescu-Yakovenko model), which I had implemented in my EiLab software.
I presented the concept of "entropic index" for economic entropy. This graph displays all states for all wealth levels. In the middle there are seven crosses in a vertical line. Six are doubles, and the top is a singlet, for a total of 13 possible states when the total wealth is $20.
When you study changes in entropy in such an extremely simple model economy, with a state-space of only 13 possible states, as opposed to Avogadro's number, things become simple, and more clear. Here we have a complete graph of possible changes of state, and the associated changes in entropy.
CANUSSEE/ISBPE 2015, Vancouver
CANSEE, USSEE and ISBPE all held a joint conference at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 2015. Two of my proposals were accepted for presentation at that conference. The first was a reprise of the topic of my poster of CANSEE 2013, but based on a different model economy - Model I of EiLab. In the presentation slide deck I review the cause of the tremendous gap in the wealth between the most wealthy and the least wealthy, and show the dynamics that cause it.
The second was a presentation about the role of H.T. Odum's Maximum Power Principle (MPP) in the dynamics of economic systems. In my "challenge" made at MABS 2013, one of the hypothesis was the inability to avoid operation of the Maximum Entropy Production Principle (or MEPP) in all economies. The MEPP says (my words) that all economies will evolve to produce entropy at a maximum possible rate consistent with the operational constraints. I believe that Odum's MPP is the flip side of the same principle. I have been giving this phenomenon close attention since September 2014, and this was the first presentation I made on the topic.
There is an interesting device called Atwood's Machine which I used as the heart of an evolving trophic web of organisms in a model called MppLab. By "heart" I mean to say that I used the dynamics of the energy transformation in Atwood's Machine as an analytic analogue of the process of digestion when a predator eats prey. In a field of freely moving organisms, they capture and eat each other and evolution occurs at three levels.
- The organisms themselves evolve, as Darwin (1859) said they should.
- But, the energy transformations also evolve as Odum (1955) said they should.
- And finally, the system-wide energy pathways evolve as Lotka (1922) said they should.
But, to demonstrate simultaneous evolution at three levels, I had to invoke a thought experiment in which I used the mechanical dynamics of an open Atwood's Machine (OAM) to exemplify the biochemical dynamics of digestion.
This video is made using a deck of over 200 slides in which I demonstrate the "thought experiment" in which HOAMS (half OAMs), and OAMs function as an energy pathway. A HOAM is an analogue of an organism, and is represented as a pair of pulleys, a mass, and a rope. An OAM is a complete Atwood Machine, formed when two HOAMs are linked, and is an analogue of a predation event in which energy is transferred from prey to predator via digestion. Note that in these slides energy moves from right to left (for technical reasons too weird to describe).
This video is made using a variation of the MppLab model. The bottom two panels are histograms of number of organisms versus the "genetic energy transfer factor", or getf. Autotrophs (plants) are at the far right, having the highest getf rating (formerly called the AM-gene, or mass). Apex carnivores are on the left, with the lowest getf ratings, and also appear in the expanded inset panel on the far left.
At the top is a histogram showing the number of current predation events versus efficiency.
The efficiency of a predation event is a ratio calculated as [the amount of still-useful energy transferred from prey to predator] divided by [the amount of energy lost as waste heat during the digestive process]. Note that, even though the efficiency of the predation events (the OAMs) varies from 0.25 to 1.00, the average efficiency, system-wide, evolves to 0.5 as the system approaches stationary state, as expected, and as recorded in the monitor at the bottom right.
ISEE/ISBPE 2016, Washington, DC, USA
This conference was held at the University of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, from June 26-29th. ISEE is the International Society of Ecological Economists - the umbrella society for CANSEE and USSEE. ISBPE is the International Society of Biophysical Economists. ISEE, which has a truly worldwide organization, was gracious enough to enable ISBPE to hold a "conference within a conference" at the same time and place, as was done with CANUSSEE/ISBPE 2015.
Modeling Inter-Generational Sustainability
160624 ISBPE - ABS01 - Modeling (PDF) - The abstract for the presentation on the ModEco model.
160624 Modeling Intergenerational Sustainability (PPTX) - In this presentation I discuss the output from my agent-based model called ModEco (Model Economy), and I present the challenge to agent-based modelers, and Ecological Economists, to build a model economy that is both sustainable and just. The details of that challenge can be found here.
The Economic Implications of Maximum Power in a Sustainable Society
160624 ISBPE - ABS03 - MPP (PDF) - The abstract for the presentation on the MPP.
160702 MPP in Sustainable Society (PPTX) - In this presentation I discuss the various aspects of the MPP that I have put together in my search for an understanding of the deep dynamics that drive modern economies to be so destructive. It includes much that has been learned from my agent based models called:
160316 NTF - The MPP and the Global Economy (PDF) - This is the note from my diary (NTF = Note To File) in which I develop some of the ideas for this presentation.
Many of the ideas presented here arose from regular discussions with Sholto Maud of Australia.
Sustainability and Social Justice: How Do We Make These Goals Compatible?
160624 Social Justice - Abstract (PDF) - The abstract for the presentation on problem of social justice.
160624 ISEE2016 Social Justice - Presentation (PPTX) - In this presentation I discuss the conflict between the twin goals of social justice and social persistence. Much of the thinking behind this presentation was developed in conversation with Randy Hayes of FOUNDATION EARTH when I was doing some work with them.
140729 NTF Layered Societies (PDF) - This is the note from my diary (NTF) in which I develop some of the ideas for this presentation.
ISBPE 2017, Polson, Montana, USA
This conference was held in the Flathead Lake Biological Station research facility near Polson, Montana, in June of 2017. ISBPE stands for International Society for Biophysical Economics. This event was a workshop that was focused entirely on the concept of EROI (energy returned on energy invested). Most of the presentations were aimed at engineering issues around photo-voltaic cells, but a small number, including mine, were intended to address more theoretical issues. While I was not enthused, at first, by the idea that the workshop would be focused on such a small part of what I would view as the scope of interest of Biophysical Economics, I was spurred to explore the definition of EROI in much more depth than I had previously, and it resulted in yet another agent-based economic model that I am calling EffLab (Efficiency Laboratory), and an attempt to merge the two economic paradigms that seem to me to be totally at odds with each other: the growth paradigm, and the decay paradigm. Both paradigms model exponential change (growth or decay) but, in my experience, both growth and decay happen simultaneously. EROI is a growth concept, similar to discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. But depreciation and decay are not. My attempt failed. I need to give it more attention under less duress. But the EffLab application provided some wonderful insights into DCF, and into the Red Queen Effect in association with stock market measures.
USSEE 2017, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
This conference was held on the campus of Macalaster College, in St, Paul, Minnesota. They accepted two of my proposed presentations, though not the most interesting. Both presentations were re-runs of presentations made elsewhere.
CANSEE 2017, Montreal, Canada
Text to be developed.
Lecture Series, Beijing, China
Text to be developed.