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Dr Simon Powers

Biography Most generally, I am interested in computational social, political, and economic science. My research looks at how tools from computer science and taking an algorithmic viewpoint helps us to answer the key questions in these disciplines. Can human values such as justice and fairness be formalised computationally? Can doing so help to build Artificial Intelligence systems that interact with humans in a more meaningful way? How can we use Artificial Intelligence to help a group work together to avoid overexploiting their resources and falling prey to the Tragedy of the Commons, for example through smart energy management?

My current research investigates the links between institutions, computer science, and multi-agent systems. How can we use tools from computer science to formally model human institutions? And how can what we learn about human institutions help us to build open socio-technical systems in which independent, distributed artificial agents cooperate? Applications of this that I am currently working on include smart grids, community energy systems, and cloud computing.

I previously held postdoctoral positions with Prof. Laurent Lehmann at the Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Lausanne (2011-2015), and with Dr. Joanna Bryson at the Department of Computer Science, University of Bath (2011). My Ph.D. thesis (2010) is titled "Social niche construction: Evolutionary explanations for cooperative group formation", and was supervised by Prof. Richard Watson at the School of Electronics & Computer Science, University of Southampton.

I am an Associate Editor for IEEE Technology & Society Magazine, and for Adaptive Behavior.

Research Interests Multi-agent systems; cooperation; artificial intelligence; socio-technical systems; institutions; cultural evolution; computational economics; game theory
Teaching and Learning Module leader for SET07109 Programming Fundamentals and SET10111 Multi Agent Systems.