i just googled the word virtual
not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.
in effect or essence, if not in fact or reality; imitated, simulated.
simulated in a computer or online.
I think part of the problem here is that I've invented something we don't have precise language for, yet. I call the agent population synthetic and I call the database virtual, and that's just the nomenclature I'm using.
I'm absolutely shocked at the number of people who feel deceived that this isn't an actual database of the entire human population.
This is a serious problem, though. My work exists at the intersection of social psychology and artificial intelligence, and these fields do not share enough vocabulary. There are major barriers to communication between "intellectual silos," and I think all of the confusion in this comment thread about the word "virtual" illustrates this point very nicely.
What do we call such a thing? After reading the author's paper, I think "synthetic" is most appropriate because we would be synthesizing a city like NYC, but not a virtual representation of NYC. In fact, I find the word "virtual" in this context somewhat misleading.