Pros and Cons of Networks in Multi-Agent Economies
Professor Neil Johnson, Clarendon Laboratory, Physics Department, Oxford University

In a competitive world, the desire for individual gain usually seems at odds with any desire to benefit the common good. While it is hoped that global connectivity will bring collective benefit, the resulting ability for action at a distance may bring its own dangers. In this talk I will discuss some simple, yet highly non-trivial, models to investigate the effects of global connectivity on individual gain and the common good. Our work specifically considers the role of connectivity in BAR (Binary Agent Resource) games - in particular, the El Farol bar problem of Brian Arthur. We find that increasing the connectivity among members of a competitive population can lead to a breakdown of the class-structure associated with individual wealth or success. However it is also accompanied by an increase in overall wastage. These two effects saturate at surprisingly low values of the connectivity, demonstrating that few very interconnections between economic agents can completely change the resulting microstructure in the economy.