Andre Martins studies agent-based computer models of extremism at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
We’ve heard from him before following his claim that extremism is an emergent phenomenon in our society.
Now he’s back with the results of a study on how to reduce extremism.
Martins creates a network model in which agents can hold any position on a continuous scale of opinion. Each agent updates its opinion using a simple calculation after observing the opinions of others nearby.
Martins defines extremism as “an agent who supports one choice fervently, even when a large group
believes a different idea to be a better choice”. One of the impressive aspects of Martins’ model is that extreme behaviour emerges naturally, just as it does in real societies.
Now he has studied ways in which extremism can be reduced. He offers tantalising evidence that extremism is linked to the structure of a society because different types of networks produce different levels of extremism.
But his most interesting conlcusion is that the mobility of agents within a network is crucial:
“The extremism problem can become far less important in societies where the mobility of its agents is above a certain threshold. Therefore, efforts to reduce such a mobility can have important negative impacts in the diminishing of extremism.”
So get moving.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0801.2411: Mobility and Social Network Effects on Extremist Opinions