Comment 78816

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2012 at 12:08:22

On models, base assumptions and developing a better understanding of traffic:

"If we want better decisions about how to design and redesign our streets, we need to follow a more evidence-based approach to traffic forecasting." ~ Ryan McGreal

The biggest challenge in Agent-based traffic modeling is developing deep, domain-independent and domain-specific ontologies which drive algorithms to learn enough to be able to make right-brain like judgment calls under multiple, overlapping and shifting realities.

'Agent-based microsimulation systems' are as vulnerable to left-brain like confirmation biases as are 'traditional activity-based systems' in predicting traffic patterns and providing appropriate responses, because it is still the ideological leanings of human minds that organize such ontologies.

To recognize and assign what is knowledge and what isn't in order to develop appropriate inferences, in what is presumed to be structured conditions but in reality is random Brownian conditions, requires 'empathy'.

Agent-based simulations much like our live traffic planners are unable to generate empathy because both suffer from scaling issues which require segmentation and filtering of the multiple domain knowledge bases.

Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind,” suggests using right-brain skills like empathy to communicate more effectively - an example of which is: emotionally intelligent signage- (video), for roads facing speeding issues.

Our understanding of road design and traffic issues needs to get much more refined and inspired, before our planners or even self-learning technologies are able to develop appropriate responses to a very complex phenomena.

Writers like Tom Vanderbilt push us towards gaining a better understanding of road design via Traffic Psychology. Writers like him are a must read if we are to ever develop better roads and traffic taming technologies in North America.

Here is a large excerpt from Vanderbilt's book: Traffic, Why We Drive The Way We Do - a truly inspirational work that could help us in looking at road and traffic issues from a totally different vantage point.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-06-22 12:19:47

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