Our societies are being thoroughly transformed by the pervasive role technology is playing on our culture and everyday life. Techno-social systems are the locution more and more adopted to quickly refer to social systems in which technology entangles, in an original and unpredictable way, cognitive, behavioural and social aspects of human beings.
Humans are made of atoms and molecules. But do they also behave as atoms or molecules? Which collective phenomena arise out of the interactions of many individuals? Is it possible to investigate the processes occurring in our complex societies? These are some of the questions the Social Dynamics Lab is committed to address by exploiting the extraordinary alignment of three circumstances:
- The possibility to access to digital fingerprints of individuals and ability to monitor and quantify human behaviours at unprecedented levels of resolution and scale, unleashed by the planetary-scale adoption of the World Wide Web, mobile communication technologies and on-line social networks. This is opening tremendous avenues for an unprecedented monitoring at a “microscopic level” of collective phenomena involving human beings. We are moving very fast towards a sort of tomography of our societies, with a key contribution of people acting as data gathering “sensors”.
- The opportunities web-gaming and social computation are offering to the emergence of new forms of participation arising from the interplay of ICT services and communities of citizens. In the last few years the Web has been progressively acquiring the status of an infrastructure for social computing that allows researchers to coordinate the cognitive abilities of users in online communities, and to suggest how to steer the collective action towards predefined goals. This general trend is also triggering the adoption of web-games as a very interesting laboratory to run experiments in the social sciences and whenever the peculiar human computation abilities are crucially required for research purposes.
- The maturity of complex systems and data science applied to socio-technical systems. The theoretical and modelling tools recently developed by physicists, mathematicians, computer and social scientists to analyse, interpret and visualize complex data sets have reached the maturity to effectively address the challenges of our era.
Sony Computer Science Lab, Paris, France