January 23, 2020
Feb 26 2020

The model is too good: how digital simulations shape prediction and behavior

12:00 pm — HBS, Cotting House Conference Room, Room 107

Digital Seminar Series: Paul Leonardi, University of California, Santa Barbara. This event is open to faculty, doctoral students, and academic researchers.

The model is too good: how digital simulations shape prediction and behavior


Advances in computer-based simulation technologies have made the process of digital twining (creating a digital copy of an analogue system) more economical and more robust. Digital twins are used to make cheap and quick predictions about the behavior of the analogue system under varying permutations. Yet there is substantial variation in how digital twins are built and the effects they have on planning processes. In this talk, I focus on the way that the organization of work shapes how simulation models are built and I demonstrate – with data collected through a year-long ethnography of urban planning in two major metropolitan areas – how differences in organizing practices produce digital twins with different degrees of granularity and immersiveness. I then show how different combinations of these two qualities can lead to dramatic differences in the way predictions are made and how the consequences of those predictions are enacted.

A buffet lunch will be available at 11:45 am. The talk will begin at 12:00 pm.


  • paul leonardi headshot

    Paul is the Duca Family Professor of Technology Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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