Computational Anthropology Section
American Anthropological Association
updated 28 November 1998
The Simulation and Representation of Bio-Cultural Processes

We're over the top with over 400 prospective members from over 40 countries.
But we still need 250 prospective members from the AAA.
Join Us! | Prospective Members List | Some Related Links | email us

Computational Anthropology Section
Organizing Meeting

American Anthropological Association
Philadelphia Marriott, Salon E, Level Five
Thursday, December 3, 1998, 6:15 - 7:30 p.m.

"Computational Anthropology has unexplored potential as both an explanatory and an educational tool. It is epistemologically, theoretically and intellectually rich. We cannot afford to ignore ‘computing the future of culture.’"
----- Nicholas Gessler, founding member and coordinator, CAS.
"The NSF has allocated around $50,000,000 to support research in ‘Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence’ (KDI), a broad initiative composed of three sub-initiatives, ‘Language and Intelligent Systems’ (LIS), ‘Knowledge Networking’ (KN), and a computing initiative, New Computational Challenges (NCC). This is where all the new money is going, so our research community should actively compete for it."
----- Stuart Plattner, Program Director for Cultural Anthropology, NSF.

On behalf of the COMPUTATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY GROUP (CAG), an interdisciplinary mandate and growing collective of over 400 interested persons from over 40 different countries, we are currently organizing along two fronts:

1) A COMPUTATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY SECTION (CAS) of the American Anthropological Association for annual venues for AAA members.
2) A COMPUTATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY COMMISSION (CAC) with the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences for much less frequent but more international venues.

Proposed Goals:
To advance the use of computation (simulation and representation) in anthropology. To explore the complexities of cultural and biological processes of perception, cognition, language, behavior, organization, manufacture and reproduction. To study the dynamics of social and physical adaptations. To investigate the relationship between the individual and the group. To experiment scenarios of cultural and biological evolution. To search for cross-disciplinary commonalities in computational studies. And more…

Proposed Dues:
Minimal, $10 per year in addition to standard AAA fees.

Proposed Services:
1. An annual venue with the AAA for current research and networking.
2. The availability of proper audio/visual, computer and related equipment at the AAA.
3. A research and information exchange automated website with a free page for each member of the CAS, a page for $10 per year for outside members of the CAG, and a free listing for all other practitioners.
4. Exhibit space to further CAS interests.
5. Support for networking at the annual meetings.

Please contact:
Nicholas Gessler, founding member and coordinator, CAG, CAS, CAC.

Support for this initiative has been gratefully received from:
UCLA Center for the Study of Evolution & the Origin of Life, Computational Evolution & Ecology Group.

The following is modified from a March 1998 posting, partially outdated, but included for your interest:

We invite YOU to join us as a "prospective member" of the proposed new COMPUTATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY SECTION (the CAS) of the American Anthropological Association (the AAA). We already we have a strong and distinguished list of over 400 "prospective members" from over 40 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysai, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, P.R. China, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., U.S., and Yugoslavia! This proposal was delivered to the Executive Board of the AAA on March 8, 1998. We were required to submit the names and addresses of 250 prospective members, but we now have 153% of our requirement. We are now over 400 members strong and growing!

COMPUTATIONAL ANTHROPOLOGY is about writing and running computer programs which help us to represent and understand human cultural and biological processes. It is about investigating the relationship between culture and biology, the individual and the group (or population), the social and physical environments, and the natural and artificial worlds (artifactual and technological) . It is about cognition, learning, development, selection, cultural and genetic transmission. It is about the complex adaptive interplay between ideas, cognitions, language, physiology, biology, behavior, artifacts and nature. It is about memes and genes. It is about evolution and emergence. We encourage our members to build applications for all the fields of archaeological, physical, biological, social, linguistic, and cultural anthropology.

"PROSPECTIVE MEMBERSHIP" is free. It means that you'll think about joining and that you'll lend your name to help us achieve "probationary status" in the AAA. It means you want to give us a chance to become a section. Once we receive 250 "prospective members" we will be granted "probationary status" and will receive additional resources and a chance to recruit 250 paid members over one year (or perhaps two). It costs you nothing to help us get off the ground. The time is right for Computational Anthropology, and a CAS could do a great deal to advance our work and benefit us all.

EVENTUALLY YOU WILL BE ASKED TO JOIN THE AAA AND THE CAS. Wouldn't it be worth the $10 (more or less) expected additional dues (above the standard AAA membership fees and journal) for an opportunity to present your own work and hear about others' work in building computer representations of cultural and biological processes? Wouldn't it be worth $10 to have a common venue for anthropologists modeling human culture and biology at the annual meetings? Wouldn't it be worth $10 to have a guaranteed session, table space in the exhibition hall, and proper equipment to present our research? Wouldn't it be worth $10 to have our research listed and linked in our proposed "Computational Anthropology" Website? Wouldn't it be worth $10 to become a "charter member" of a new section which can only grow as interest in modeling, complexity, non-linear systems, emergence, and human origins and evolution grows across the sciences? Wouldn't it be worth $10 to get in on the ground floor? Surely it would!

OUR GOALS ARE to advance computation as a way of understanding Anthropological phenomena by:
* Encouraging international cooperation in the development of computational literacy.
* Networking with and supporting the research of colleagues who are not AAA Members.
* Enhancing Web-based exchanges of information on research among members.
* Contributing regular news to the Anthropology Newsletter.
* Ensuring the availability of state-of-the-art equipment for our members at the AAA Annual Meetings.
* Sponsoring a session on current research at the AAA Annual Meetings.
* Maintaining tables and demonstrations throughout the AAA Annual Meetings in the Exhibits area.
* Hosting an informal reception for members and prospective members at the AAA Annual Meetings.
* Holding an organizational forum at the AAA Annual Meetings.

Please JOIN us NOW! Here is all that we need:

1) Your full name (required).
2) Your full postal mailing address (required - but we can keep it off the Website if you wish).
3) Your full email address (if you have one).
4) Your full Website address (if you have one).
5) We need you to help us distribute this "call for members" as widely, and as soon, as possible.
6) Email this information to me NOW!

Visit our website at:
Please join us...
Thanks, Nick Gessler

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