The concept of agency / Le concept d’agentivité (2/2)

Last week, I started to talk about agency, this “feeling that you are in control” and that your actions can have an impact on your environment. In particular, I mentioned how video games can help us understand when choices are meaningful and how they teach us this power of decision. Today, let’s continue with a focus on the links between games and real-life, and on false choices and manipulation.

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The concept of agency / Le concept d’agentivité (1/2)

Two weeks ago, I talked about Skinner’s theories on human behavior and conditioning. I also mentioned how his discoveries, and most notably the Skinner box, have been used in game design. When we think about conditioning, something that we usually have difficulty with is the idea that some external force is deciding for us; that we have essentially lost our power of action. This ability to choose and influence the events in our life is called “agency”.

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Solving PDEs numerically: the finite element method (1)

The study of partial differential equations is a fascinating field of mathematics with many concrete applications, be it in physics, mechanics, meteorology, medicine, urbanism… Mathematicians model the world as equations to better understand it and, if possible, compute a theoretical solution to a physical problem. However, we can’t always get an analytical solution – for example if the geometry is too complex – and sometimes must rely on numerical methods to get an approximation.

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A peek at genetic algorithms

In computer science, genetic algorithms are metaheuristics that help solve optimization problems. Those evolutionary algorithms are inspired by the Darwinian evolution process and rely on iterative generation breeding to get from a (mostly random) initial population of individuals to one that counts many individuals “well-fit” for the task at hand.
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Some animations around physics

Although I’m not much of a physicist, I am always fascinated with how simple laws, such as Newton’s, can create beautiful and complex movements. I tried to illustrate this by working out little simulations of basic physical models: particles elastic collision, free fall and pendulum evolution.

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