Computer models increasingly provide knowledge for decisions in politics and society. The project, funded by the Innovation Fund of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, reflects the role of computer-based modeling and simulation in policy advice.
Computational modelling has gained increasing relevance for supporting political and societal decision-making on a range of complex and controversial questions. However, the proliferation of computational modelling in policy advice is hardly acknowledged and reflected upon in public and scholarly debates on scientific policy advice. The project strives to open the ‘black box’ of modelling in policy advice and to provide empirical insights into computer modelling and simulations as epistemic and political instruments and practices.
The project provides a systematic overview over the epistemic characteristics of computational modelling and simulations in different policy areas. The main modelling approaches are identified and classified along their methodological approach, scale, scope, disciplinary and institutional configurations as well as their linking to specific policy issues.
Beyond the systematic overview, the project strives for a profound understanding of how computational models and simulations are used in advisory contexts in different policy areas. Against the background of recent assaults on the authority of science, the project particularly asks how credibility and legitimacy claims are ensured in the interaction and communication between scientists and political as well as societal stakeholders.
The project provides empirical insights into the inner world of modelling and simulation; it reveals how scientific evidence is produced and legitimacy maintained and how the exceptional position of scientific knowledge can be justified in the digital age.
"All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: Computational Modelling in Policy Advice" (by Richard Brautigan)