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Jonathan Rauch has an interesting article about artificial societies in the Atlantic Monthly,
Thus we can now ask--and get answers--to questions like:
--How much of a preference for living near members of one's own ethnic groups is necessary for residential patterns to stabilize in near-complete segregation?
--How much of a tendency to trust the judgment of and imitate those who you know is necessary for a stock market to become subject to recurrent irrational bubbles and crashes?
--How is it possible that a society can turn from peaceful coexistence to inter-ethnic hobbesian war overnight?
How important the computer-based virtual experimental science of sociology will become is anyone's guess. But that it is coming is very clear.