Co-ordinator = Alfonso Reyes
- Modelling for strategic decision-making involves three streams:
- Modelling here is a very specific
process that involves the use of fairly complex mathematical models
- In this process, people in the policy making do not have the
capacity to understand the complexity of the modelling itself. To close this
gap we use scenarios as a sort of a transducer between the modelling and the
- By taking these three elements, the modelling process
can be seen as a learning process with a typical feedback loop as
represented in this figure:
- The outcome of the process, in this modelling, is the policy that will
affect the “clients” of the system-in-focus. Hopefully this outcome will
meet the expectations of the clients regarding the issues being subject to
the policy process.
- With the increase in the capacity
of computers to handle more variables and to solve more complicated
problems, the modelling capacity has also increases. Now days it is possible
to have very complex models representing the external world in a more
- The development of ICT also has
allowed a better way to amplify the outcome of the modelling to a larger
community of clients and to get a quicker feedback from them.
- There have been many instances of
real applications of this sort of modelling and policy making, however,
there is still a lack of formal investigation in the effectiveness of the
policy making process itself as depicted in the diagram. How is it that
actually these three streams come together in a particular situation? This
is a question that have to be addressed. There are also some ethical
questions that have to be explored as well.
- The modelling here has to use
information from the past in order to allow for the building of suitable
scenarios for the future.
- Modelling, however, is not also
about building better (i.e., more precise) representations of possible
futures but also developing an understanding of itself.
- This last point of developing an
awareness of the modelling itself points to the importance of the process of
modelling rather than to the model resulted as an outcome of this process.
- The importance of widening the modelling process is the ethical concerns
related, those of participation and transparency.
- This widening, however, may has as an implication a huge increase in the number
of options (possible scenarios) that can overwhelmed people if they are
asked to choose. Let us think, for instance, on the use of this sort of
modelling for policy making in the social realm (i.e., a referendum with
- This widening may imply, also, the capacity of the
modelling process to questioning itself, to make explicit its assumptions,
values and norms in a critical way. This means that, in terms of a learning
process, the modelling has to acknowledge a double-loop learning built in
We need, in the process of policy making, to
balance between the informational and the operational domain, that is, the
modelling of the “here and now” has to be connected to the bodyhood of
the system that produces the modelling.
Another important point to be
aware of is that the modelling process does not refers exclusively to the
quality of the models being produced but also to the quality of the
communications being carried out in this process between the modellers
(i.e., “scientists”) the politicians and the other stakeholders, this
also points to the issue of structure.
The widening of the modelling by the use of ICT is connected to the meaning
creation process of the policy making but this is just one the sides of the
coin. The other one refers to the structure needed to carry out the
policies. So, a question arises, what is the connection between meaning
creation and structure?
The ethical issues related to the widening of the modelling by the use of ICT
should not be left out, specially the issues regarding participation and
- Can we bring forth into the model of modelling some
meta-modelling to account to the different models that people, in the
modelling process, may have?
We can use ICT to improve the variety of a
One of the responsibilities of modelling may be to enable me to recognise a richer
“reality” at any particular moment. This implies a greater
responsibility of the modellers as well because it may be the case that by
widening the here and now with the use of current technology, some
“truths’ that previously went unchallenged can now be confronted
(refuted) by ICTs.
It seems that this widening implies a movement from the “professional
modeller” to a community of (self-aware) modellers participating in
(facilitating? restricting?) their own modelling (i.e., learning). This
implies the need to sharing the responsibility of the modelling process with
checks and balances. Here we are combining what we may call a 1st
and 2nd order modelling.
- We may depict a more general understanding of the modelling
process by realising that through a model we are building an understanding.
This understanding builds a form of relations which, in turn, creates a new
(different) body which is itself the base for a new model and so on. We can
appreciate this in the following figure:
- Another interesting aspect of the widening of the here and now has to do with our
understanding of “nature”. The question is: if the use of ICT increases
the variety of the modelling, does this imply that we will have a more
unitary (i.e., more precise) view of nature? Or does this increase in
variety means that we will have a more diversity in the constitution of
nature? (in a sense, many possible natures?, a less unitary understanding of
- With regard to the previous point, it seems that the
original problem of this group was not to understand nature itself but to
understand it in relation to an agreed policy.