Guillaume Falmagne receives Lopez-Loreta Prize

June 19, 2024

The Lopez-Loreta Foundation has just awarded a 1-million-euro Prize to HMEI/EEB postdoctoral researcher Guillaume Falmagne, to fund for 5 years his project CORESO/COLNET: "COoperation in Large-scale NETworks: experimenting optimal structures". The project will set forth drivers of cooperation at large scales, through the design and use of a video game as a laboratory for large human groups. 

This Foundation awards Prizes to recent alumni of four Polytechnic Universities in France and Switzerland, to support their "research projects of an academic, entrepreneurial, scientific, ecological, humanitarian, innovative and highly promising nature". These Universities include École Polytechnique (Paris), where Guillaume obtained his PhD in particle physics, after a Bachelor and Masters in École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay.

In 2022, Guillaume joined the Simon Levin Lab, where he applies tools of emergent phenomena, networks, game theory and statistical analysis to complex socio-ecological systems. In particular, he became interested in studying social systems with large datasets -- including the r/place game on Reddit -- and the bottom-up drivers of cooperation. 

Cooperation is essential to solving environnemental crises, but empirical proofs of mechanisms fostering cooperation are tenuous when groups get too large for direct communication. That is where video games can be a game changer: the voluntary participation of tens of thousands of players in a market-level game will provide the CORESO project with abundant human-behavior data. This will allow for controlled experiments to evaluate the effect of various mechanisms on the level of cooperation. In particular, the influence of multi-layered network structure and the conditions for tipping points to emerge will be tested at an unprecedented scale and exhaustivity.

Guillaume will hire a hybrid team of academics and video game professionals: a PhD student and a postdoctoral researcher, alongside a game designer and a developper, working in synergy to design a massively multiplayer online game that is both widely attractive and suited to the research goals. In a last phase of the project, the online game will be converted to a local governance workshop, guiding decision makers and citizens towards deliberative solutions to common goods issues. Depending on the finding of network structures favorable to large-scale cooperation, the project envisions to recommend public policies implementing these structures.