April 23, 2019 ―
April 26, 2019

Lifescale Prototyping and Participatory Steering of Complex Systems

23-26 April 2019

Synthesis Center, Matthews Center 222, ASU

950 Cady Mall, Tempe AZ 85281


How can a group of people with incommensurate epistemic cultures come together to develop a shared, intuitive understanding of a complex bio-social situation by creating, playing, and steering experiential simulations as well as representations? How can a group of people with incommensurate value frameworks decide how to jointly navigate complex bio-social situations?



In February, Synthesis presented work on steerable simulations at the workshop on New Participatory Approaches to Steering and Evaluation of Complex Adaptive Systems (PSCAS), hosted by the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) at The University of Surrey. Joined by participants from the United Kingdom, Germany, Thailand, Mexico, and Japan, several projects emerged from the workshop, including Steerable Urban Systems, aligning with Synthesis’ work in steerable simulations and evolving Life-scale Prototyping stream.



This group will be visiting Synthesis from April 21-28 to discuss potential projects and funding moving forward. Visitors from the PSCAS workshop will include:


Prof. Petra Ahrweiler, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, CECAN

Professor of Technology and Innovation Assessment, Institute of Sociology


Modeling component interactions between epistemic/cognitive and social aspects of scientific creativity and technological innovation, sociology, economics, political science, theology, journalism, occidental rationalism and typologies of theory-based sense-making, artificial intelligence, network simulations of scientific theories and innovation projects


Ryuta Aoki, Co-Founder & CEO Alternative Machines, Inc., Founder & CEO VOLOCITEE Inc., Founder & Curator TEDxKids@Chiyoda, Founder & Director Art Hack Day, Co-founder & Director, TAICOLAB, TEA-ROOM, and ALIFE Lab

Engaging in concept design, creative direction, project production, and business development in art, science, and the cultural field. Established ALife Lab in conjunction with Takashi Ikegami in complexity science and artificial life at the University of Tokyo, and Mizuki Oka in web science at Tsukuba University to apply theories of technology of Artificial Life to benefit society.

Concept design, creative direction, project production, and business development in art, science and the cultural field; community design and management; bio-inspired artificial intelligence and robotics


Dr. Beth Cullen, Monsoon Assemblages, University of Westminster

Research Fellow, Monsoon Assemblages: interdisciplinary design-driven inquiry into the impacts of changing monsoon climates and processes of rapid urbanisation in three South Asian cities. Exploring how people conceive of, experience and respond to monsoon weather in the context of three focal cities, Chennai, Dhaka, and Yangon, and the wider region.


Human-environment relations, environmental anthropology, participatory video, collaborative ethnographic research, visual methods for communicating tacit, embodied, and sensory knowledge, participatory methods, permaculture, co-design, more-than-human participatory approaches.


Demian Frank, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Sociology and political science, sociology and sports, legitimisation of technology in competitive sports, media evaluation, virtual and mixed reality in the museum context, agent-based modeling, long-term effects of participatory interventions on social systems, intuition of complex systems


Dr. Alex Penn, CECAN, University of Surrey

Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus, a collaboration between academics, policy professionals, and the UK government to generate novel, cutting-edge methods for evaluating policy for complex systems.


Participatory complexity science methodologies for decision makers and system stakeholders to explore interdependencies between social, ecological, economic, and political factors in their complex adaptive systems – and to design and evaluate complexity appropriate system interventions. Currently working with UK government applying to rapidly changing complex policy spaces; Agriculture, land management and rural economies and energy security. Also working with stakeholders and communities using methods in water catchment issues and “industrial ecosystems”; in particular looking at the transition to bio-based economy in a region of heavy industry and fossil fuel energy generation in the Humber Estuary, UK.


Physics, cybernetics / complexity science, evolutionary biology, artificial life, philosophy of biology, microbial ecosystems, permaculture, design approaches for synthetic ecology and hybrid living systems, participatory systems mapping, fuzzy cognitive mapping, network theory, policy appraisal and evaluation for complex systems, participatory steering of complex adaptive systems


Dr. Jesus Mario Siqueiros-García, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Researcher at IIMAS and LANCIS, UNAM. Former director Academic Development, National Bioethics Commision of Mexico. Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genomic Medicine at the National Institute for Genomic Medicine of Mexico (INMEGEN).


4E: Enactivism and Affordance Theory, Computational social science, social complex systems, sustainability science, ethnology, cultural anthropology, philosophy of biology, transformations to sustainability, relationships between culture and nature, epistemological and ontological bases of sustainability science and anthropology, phenomenological perspectives on complex systems, cognitive maps, complex network analysis, social web mining, ethnography, phenomenological interviews


Dr. Alex Smajgl, Mekong Region Futures Institute (MERFI) & Deakin University

Managing Director, Mekong Region Futures institute, in partnership with government and research agencies in Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems


Developing participatory processes and integrated methodology to assess triple bottom line outcomes in Mekong region, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef region. Multi-scale assessment, using agent-based modeling to simulate disaggregated system behavior. Impacts of energy policy options on poverty and deforestation in Indonesia.


Agent-based modeling, water, food, energy nexus, science-policy interface, hydropower, transboundary water management, forest management, protection of coastal zones, fish stock management, food security, poverty alleviation