COMPLEXITY

By Santa Fe Institute, Michael Garfield

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Description

Far-reaching conversations with a worldwide network of scientists and mathematicians, philosophers and artists developing new frameworks to explain our universe's deepest mysteries. Join host Michael Garfield at the Santa Fe Institute each week to learn about your world and the people who have dedicated their lives to exploring its emergent order: their stories, research, and insights…

Episode Date
Daniel Lieberman on Evolution and Exercise: The Science of Human Endurace
00:52:50

Human beings are distinctly weird. We live for a very long time after we stop reproducing, move completely differently than all of our closest relatives, lack the power of chimpanzees and other primates but completely outdo most other terrestrial mammals in a contest of endurance. If we think about bodies as hypotheses about the stable features of their ancestral environments, what do the features of our unusual physiology say about what humans ARE, where we come from, the details of our origin story as a profoundly successful species? And what can we learn by telescoping that story forward to explain some of the most persistent puzzles and paradoxes about our health, the way we age, our need for physical exercise, and our nearly ubiquitous aversion to habits that are good for us?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week, we sprint into the paleoanthropology, biomechanics, and physiology of exercise with Harvard evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman, author of several books including Exercised, The Story of the Human Body, and The Evolution of the Human Head. In our rapid-fire discussion we explore how millions of years as hunter-gatherers equipped hominids with a unique package of adaptations for endurance running, why exercise is so good for us but so generally undesirable, and how physical activity in old age helped shape us into the strongly intergenerational social apes we are today.

Be sure to check out our extensive show notes with links to all our references at complexity.simplecast.com. Note that applications are now open for our 2023 Complexity Postdoctoral Fellowships! Tell a friend. And if you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentioned papers and other resources:

SFI Colloquium & Twitter thread on Daniel Lieberman’s “Active Grandparent Hypothesis”

The evolution of human fatigue resistance
by Frank E. Marino, Benjamin E. Sibson, Daniel E. Lieberman 

"What beer and running taught me about the scientific process"
Seminar by SFI Journalism Fellow Christie Aschwanden

Endurance running and the evolution of Homo
by Dennis Bramble & Daniel Lieberman in Nature

SFI Professor David Wolpert & the thermodynamics of computation

Complexity 64 - Reconstructing Ancient Superhighways with Stefani Crabtree and Devin White

3100: Run and Become (Documentary Film)

Why run unless something is chasing you?
by Daniel Lieberman at The Harvard Gazette

Hate Working Out? Blame Evolution
by Daniel LIeberman at The New York Times

The Aging of Wolff’s “Law”: Ontogeny and Responses to Mechanical Loading in Cortical Bone
by Osbjorn Pearson & DanielL Lieberman

Effects of footwear cushioning on leg and longitudinal arch stiffness during running
by Nicholas B.Holowkaab, Stephen M.Gillinovac, EmmanuelVirot, Daniel E.Lieberman

Aug 03, 2022
Aviv Bergman on The Evolution of Robustness and Integrating The Disciplines
01:14:58

Ask any martial artist: It’s not just where a person strikes you but your stance that matters. The amplitude and angle of a blow is one thing but how you can absorb and/or deflect it makes the difference. The same is true in any evolutionary system. Most people seem to know “the butterfly effect” where tiny changes lead to large results, but the inverse also works: complex organisms buffer their development against adverse mutations so that tiny changes cannot redirect the growth of limbs and other organs. It takes a lot to shake the pattern of five fingers on a hand, or five toes on a paw. This is robustness: how much change can something soak up before it transforms? The question leads us into a secret garden of cryptic variation: mutations waiting for their moment, pieces sitting in place that might suddenly and radically metamorphose in changing circumstances. It’s why evolution stutters, halts and leaps, and maybe it can help us think about society and mind in ways that deepen comprehension of the tangled and surprising forces playing out at all scales, in society and in ecology. For quests as deep as these, we need to wear new lenses and train inquiries stereoscopically. How can and do the sciences and the humanities inform each other as we keep evolving — not just biologically, but culturally? Can we triangulate the truth by holding theories side by side and looking through them all together?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week, we speak with Aviv Bergman (Google Scholar), External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute and Director of the new Albert Einstein Institute for Advanced Study in the Life Sciences.

Be sure to check out our extensive show notes with links to all our references at complexity.simplecast.com. Note that our applications for SFI postdoctoral fellowships open on August 1st! Tell a friend.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentioned Papers:

Waddington’s canalization revisited: Developmental stability and evolution
Mark L. Siegal & Aviv Bergman

Evolutionary capacitance as a general feature of complex gene networks
Aviv Bergman & Mark L. Siegal

Phenotypic Pliancy and the Breakdown of Epigenetic Polycomb Mechanisms
Maryl Lambros, Yehonatan Sella, Aviv Bergman

Mammalian Endothermy Optimally Restricts Fungi and Metabolic Costs
Aviv Bergman & Arturo Casadevall

How on Earth can Aliens Survive? Concept and Case Study
Aviv Bergman’s 2022 SFI Seminar


Additional Mentioned Podcasts, Videos, & Writing:

Melanie Mitchell on Artificial Intelligence: What We Still Don't Know

On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 3)

Ricardo Hausmann & J. Doyne Farmer on Evolving Technologies & Market Ecologies (EPE 03)

Olivia Judson on Major Energy Transitions in Evolutionary History

James Evans on Social Computing and Diversity by Design

Mirta Galesic on Social Learning & Decision-making

What Determines The Complexity of Writing Systems?
on the work of SFI Fellow Helena Miton

Does the Ecology of Somatic Tissue Normally Constrain the Evolution of Cancer?
SFI Seminar by External Professor John Pepper

Explosive Proofs of Mathematical Truths
SFI Seminar by External Professor Simon DeDeo

Armchair Science
by 2022 SFI Journalism Fellow Dan Falk at Aeon Magazine

The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative
Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin 10 April 2020

Ignorance, Failure, Uncertainty, and the Optimism of Science
Stuart Firestein’s 2022 SFI Community Lecture

Smarter Parts Make Collective Systems Too Stubborn
Jordana Cepelewicz at Aeon Magazine

"Ancestral forms are very different, but as you increase regulatory interactions is decreasing the space of the possible. You can think of bureaucracy..."
- SFI President David Krakauer on #DevoBias2018

Jul 18, 2022
Sara Walker on The Physics of Life and Planet-Scale Intelligence
01:22:23

What is life, and where does it come from? These are two of the deepest, most vexing, and persistent questions in science, and their enduring mystery and allure is complicated by the fact that scientists approach them from a myriad of different angles, hard to reconcile. Whatever else one might identify as universal features of all living systems, most scholars would agree life is a physical phenomenon unfolding in time. And yet current physics is notorious for its inadequacy with respect to time. Life appears to hinge on information transfer — but, again, what do we mean by “information,” and what it is relationship to energy and matter? If humankind can’t settle fundamental issues with these theoretical investigations, we might be missing other kinds of life (and mind) — not just in outer space, but here on Earth, right beneath our noses. But new models that suggest a vastly wider definition of life offer hope that we might — soon! — not only learn to recognize the biospheres and technospheres of other living worlds, but notice other “aliens” at home, and even find our place amidst a living cosmos.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on the show, we speak with SFI External Professor Sara Walker (Twitter, Google Scholar), Deputy Director of The Beyond Center at ASU, where she acts as Associate Professor in half a dozen different programs. In this conversation, we discuss her pioneering research in the origins of life and the profound and diverse implications of Assembly Theory — a new kind of physics she’s developing with chemist Leroy Cronin and a team of SFI and NASA scholars.  Sara likes to speculate out loud in public conversation, so strap in for an unusually enthusiastic, animated, and free-roaming conversation at the very bleeding edge of science. And be sure to check out our extensive show notes with links to all our references at complexity.simplecast.com.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentioned Papers:

Intelligence as a planetary scale process
by Adam Frank, David Grinspoon & Sara Walker

The Algorithmic Origins of Life
by Sara Imari Walker & Paul C. W. Davies

Beyond prebiotic chemistry: What dynamic network properties allow the emergence of life?
by Leroy Cronin & Sara Walker

Identifying molecules as biosignatures with assembly theory and mass spectrometry
by Stuart Marshall, Cole Mathis, Emma Carrick, Graham Keenan, Geoffrey Cooper, Heather Graham, Matthew Craven, Piotr Gromski, Douglas Moore, Sara Walker & Leroy Cronin

Assembly Theory Explains and Quantifies the Emergence of Selection and Evolution
by Abhishek Sharma, Dániel Czégel, Michael Lachmann, Christopher Kempes, Sara Walker, Leroy Cronin

Quantum Non-Barking Dogs
by Sara Imari Walker, Paul C. W. Davies, Prasant Samantray, Yakir Aharonov

The Multiple Paths to Multiple Life
by Christopher P. Kempes & David C. Krakauer 

Other Related Videos & Writing:

SFI Seminar - Why Black Holes Eat Information
by Vijay Balasubramanian

Major Transitions in Planetary Evolution
by Hikaru Furukawa and Sara Imari Walker

2022 Community Lecture: “Recognizing The Alien in Us”
by Sara Walker

Sara Walker and Lee Cronin: The Alien Debate
on The Lex Fridman Show

If Cancer Were Easy, Every Cell Would Do It
SFI Press Release on work by Michael Lachmann

The Ministry for The Future
by Kim Stanley Robinson

Re: Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment
Wikipedia

On the SFI “Exploring Life’s Origins” Research Project

Complexity Explorer’s Origins of Life Free Open Online Course

Chiara Marletto on Constructor Theory

Simon Saunders, Philosopher of Physics at Oxford

Related SFI Podcast Episodes:

Complexity 2 - The Origins of Life: David Krakauer, Sarah Maurer, and Chris Kempes at InterPlanetary Festival 2019

Complexity 8 - Olivia Judson on Major Energy Transitions in Evolutionary History

Complexity 17 - Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Complexity 40 - The Information Theory of Biology & Origins of Life with Sara Imari Walker (Big Biology Podcast Crossover)

Complexity 41 - Natalie Grefenstette on Agnostic Biosignature Detection

Complexity 68 - W. Brian Arthur on Economics in Nouns & Verbs (Part 1)

Complexity 80 - Mingzhen Lu on The Evolution of Root Systems & Biogeochemical Cycling

Alien Crash Site 015 - Cole Mathis

Alien Crash Site 019 - Heather Graham

Alien Crash Site 020 - Chris Kempes

Alien Crash Site 021 - Natalie Grefenstette

Jul 02, 2022
Dmitri Tymoczko on The Shape of Music: Mathematical Order in Western Tonality
01:25:16

Math and music share their mystery and magic. Three notes, played together, make a chord whose properties could not be predicted from those of the separate notes. In the West, music theory and mathematics have common origins and a rich history of shaping and informing one another’s field of inquiry. And, curiously, Western composition has evolved over several hundred years in much the same way economies and agents in long-running simulations have: becoming measurably more complex; encoding more and more environmental structure. (But then, sometimes collapses happen, and everything gets simpler.) Music theorists, like the alchemists that came before them, are engaged in a centuries-long project of deciphering the invisible geometry of these relationships. What is the hidden grammar that connects The Beatles to Johann Sebastian Bach — and how similar is it to the hidden order disclosed by complex systems science? In other words, what makes for “good” music, and what does it have to do with the coherence of the natural world?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on the show, we speak with mathematician and composer Dmitri Tymozcko at Princeton University, whose work provides a new rigor to the study of the Western canon and illuminates “the shape of music” — a hyperspatial object from which all works of baroque, classical, romantic, modern, jazz, and pop are all low-dimensional projections. In the first conversation for this podcast with MIDI keyboard accompaniment, we follow upon Gottfried Leibniz’s assertion that music is “the unconscious exercise of our mathematical powers.” We explore how melodies and harmonies move through mathematical space in ways quite like the metamorphoses of living systems as they traverse evolutionary fitness landscapes. We examine the application of information theory to chord categorization and functional harmony. And we ask about the nature of randomness, the roles of parsimony and consilience in both art and life.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage. You can find the complete show notes for every episode, with transcripts and links to cited works, at complexity.simplecast.com.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentions and additional resources:

All of Tymoczko’s writings mentioned in this conversation can be found on his Princeton.edu website

You can explore his interactive music software at MadMusicalScience.com

The Geometry of Musical Chords
by Dmitri Tymoczko

An Information Theoretic Approach to Chord Categorization and Functional Harmony
by Nori Jacoby, Naftali Tishby and Dmitri Tymoczko

This Mathematical Song of the Emotions
by Dmitri Tymoczko

The Sound of Philosophy
by Dmitri Tymoczko

Select Tymoczko Video Lectures:
Spacious Spatiality (SEMF) 2022
The Quadruple Hierarchy
The Shape of Music (2014)

On the 2020 SFI Music & Complexity Working Group (with a link to the entire video playlist of public presentations).

On the 2022 SFI Music & Complexity Working Group

Foundations and Applications of Humanities Analytics Institute at SFI

Short explainer animation on SFI Professor Sidney Redner’s work on “Sleeping Beauties of Science”

The evolution of syntactic communication
by Martin Nowak, Joshua Plotkin, Vincent Jansen

The Majesty of Music and Math (PBS special with SFI’s Cris Moore)

The physical limits of communication
by Michael Lachmann, Mark Newman, Cristopher Moore

Supertheories and Consilience from Alchemy to Electromagnetism
SFI Seminar by Simon DeDeo

Will brains or algorithms rule the kingdom of science?
by David Krakauer at Aeon Magazine

Scaling, Mirror Symmetries and Musical Consonances Among the Distances of the Planets of the Solar System
by Michael Bank and Nicola Scafetta

“The reward system for people who do a really wonderful job of extracting knowledge and understanding and wisdom…is skewed in the wrong way. If left to the so-called free market, it’s mainly skewed toward entertainment or something that’s narrowly utilitarian for some business firm or set of business firms.”
Murray Gell-Mann, A Crude Look at The Whole Part 180/200 (1997)

Related Episodes:

Complexity 81 - C. Brandon Ogbunu on Epistasis & The Primacy of Context in Complex Systems
Complexity 72 - Simon DeDeo on Good Explanations & Diseases of Epistemology
Complexity 70 - Lauren F. Klein on Data Feminism: Surfacing Invisible Labor
Complexity 67 - Tyler Marghetis on Breakdowns & Breakthroughs: Critical Transitions in Jazz & Mathematics
Complexity 46 - Helena Miton on Cultural Evolution in Music and Writing Systems
Complexity 29 - On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer

Jun 18, 2022
Seth Blumsack on Power Grids: Network Topology & Governance
01:07:48

We lead our lives largely unaware of the immense effort required to support them. All of us grew up inside the so-called “Grid” — actually one of many interconnected regional power grids that electrify our modern world. The physical infrastructure and the regulatory intricacies required to keep the lights on: both have grown organically, piecemeal, in complex networks that nobody seems to fully understand. And yet, we must. Compared to life 150 years ago, we are all utterly dependent on the power grid, and learning how it operates — how tiny failures cause cascading crises, and how tense webs of collaborators make decisions on the way that electricity is priced and served — matters now more than ever.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with SFI External Professor Seth Blumsack (Google Scholar page), Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics and International Affairs in EME and Director of the Center for Energy Law and Policy at Penn State. In this conversation we explore the arcane yet urgent systems that comprise the power grid and how it’s operated, reminding us that the mundane is ever a deep reservoir of questions.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage. You can find the complete show notes for every episode, with transcripts and links to cited works, at complexity.simplecast.com.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentions and additional resources:

Topological Models and Critical Slowing down: Two Approaches to Power System Blackout Risk Analysis
by Paul Hines, Eduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, & Seth Blumsack

Do topological models provide good information about electricity infrastructure vulnerability?
by Paul HinesEduardo Cotilla-Sanchez, & Seth Blumsack

Can capacity markets be designed by democracy?
by Kyungjin Yoo & Seth Blumsack

The Political Complexity of Regional Electricity Policy Formation
by Kyungjin Yoo & Seth Blumsack

The Energy Transition in New Mexico: Insights from a Santa Fe Institute Workshop
by Seth Blumsack, Paul Hines, Cristopher Moore, and Jessika E. Trancik

EBF 483: Introduction to Electricity Markets
by Seth Blumsack

What’s behind $15,000 electricity bills in Texas?
by Seth Blumsack

RTOGov: Exploring Links Between Market Decision-Making Processes and Outcomes
by Kate Konschnik

Ensuring Consideration of the Public Interest in the Governance and Accountability of Regional Transmission Organizations
by Michael H. Dworkin & Rachel Aslin Goldwasser

Electricity governance and the Western energy imbalance market in the United States: The necessity of interorganizational collaboration
by Stephanie Lenhart, Natalie Nelson-Marsh, Elizabeth J. Wilson, & David Solan

Untangling the Wires in Electricity Market Planning, with Kate Konschnik
by Resources Radio

Matthew Jackson on Social & Economic Networks
Complexity Podcast 12

Elizabeth Hobson on Animal Dominance Hierarchies
Complexity Podcast 78

The Collective Computation of Reality in Nature and Society
Jessica Flack’s 2019 SFI Community Lecture

Tyler Marghetis on Breakdowns & Breakthroughs: Critical Transitions in Jazz & Mathematics
Complexity Podcast 67

Early-warning signals for critical transitions
by Marten Scheffer, Jordi Bascompte, William A. Brock, Victor Brovkin, Stephen R. Carpenter, Vasilis Dakos, Hermann Held, Egbert H. van Nes, Max Rietkerk & George Sugihara

Ricardo Hausmann & J. Doyne Farmer on Evolving Technologies & Market Ecologies (EPE 03)
Complexity Podcast 84

Anjali Bhatt

Tina Eliassi-Rad on Democracies as Complex Systems
Complexity Podcast 73

Mirta Galesic on Social Learning & Decision-making
Complexity Podcast 9

Jessika Trancik

Signalling architectures can prevent cancer evolution
by Leonardo Oña & Michael Lachmann

The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles with Bryant Walker Smith
Complexity Podcast 79

Image Credit: Paul Hines

Jun 04, 2022
Ricardo Hausmann & J. Doyne Farmer on Evolving Technologies & Market Ecologies (EPE 03)
01:20:49

As our world knits together, economic interdependencies change in both shape and nature. Supply chains, finance, labor, technological innovation, and geography interact in puzzling nonlinear ways. Can we step back far enough and see clearly enough to make sense of these interactions? Can we map the landscape of capability across scales? And what insights emerge by layering networks of people, firms, states, markets, regions? We’re all riding a bucking horse; what questions can we ask to make sure that we can stay in the saddle?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with two SFI External Professors helping to rethink political economy: newly-appointed Science Board Co-Chair Ricardo Hausmann (Website, Wikipedia, Twitter) is the Director of the Harvard Growth Lab and J. Doyne Farmer (Website, Wikipedia) is Director of the Complexity Economics program at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School. In this episode we zoom wide to try and find a way to garden all together, learning limits that can help inform discussion and decisions on the shape of things to come…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage. You can find the complete show notes for every episode, with transcripts and links to cited works, at complexity.simplecast.com. Heads up that our online education platform Complexity Explorer’s Origins of Life Course is still open for enrollment until June 1st! We hope to see you in there…

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentions and additional resources:

The new paradigm of economic complexity
Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Tom Broekel, Dario Diodato, Elisa Giuliani, Ricardo Hausmann, Neave O’Clery, and David Rigby
in Research Policy

How production networks amplify economic growth
James McNerney, Charles Savoie, Francesco Caravelli, Vasco M. Carvalho, and J. Doyne Farmer 
in PNAS

Productive Ecosystems and the arrow of development
by Neave O’Clery, Muhammed Ali Yıldırım, and Ricardo Hausmann 

Horrible trade-offs in a pandemic: Poverty, fiscal space, policy, and welfare
Ricardo Hausmann and Ulrich Schetter
in ScienceDirect

Historical effects of shocks on inequality: the great leveler revisited
Bas van Bavel and Marten Scheffer
in Nature Humanities & Social Sciences Communications
(Twitter thread)

Complexity 56 - J. Doyne Farmer on The Complexity Economics Revolution

The Multiple Paths to Multiple Life
Christopher P. Kempes and David C. Krakauer 
in Journal of Molecular Evolution

Scaling of urban income inequality in the USA
Elisa Heinrich Mora, Cate Heine, Jacob J. Jackson, Geoffrey B. West, Vicky Chuqiao Yang and Christopher P. Kempes
in Journal of The Royal Society Interface

Complexity 12 - Matthew Jackson on Social & Economic Networks

Complexity 81 - C. Brandon Ogbunu on Epistasis & The Primacy of Context in Complex Systems

Pitchfork Economics
by Nick Hanauer (podcast)

Complexity 15 - R. Maria del-Rio Chanona on Modeling Labor Markets & Tech Unemployment

Will a Large Complex System be Stable?
by Robert May
in Nature

Investigations
by Stuart Kauffman

The Collapse of Networks
by Raissa D’Souza (SFI Symposium Talk)

May 21, 2022
Eric Beinhocker & Diane Coyle on Rethinking Economics for A Sustainable & Prosperous World (EPE 02)
00:50:42

In the digital era, data is practically the air we breathe. So why does everybody treat it like a product to be hoarded and sold at profit? How would our world change if Big Tech operated on assumptions and incentives more aligned with the needs of a healthy society? Are more data — or are bigger models — really better? As human beings scamper around like prehistoric mammals under the proverbial feet of the new enormous digital monopolies that have emerged due to the Web’s economies of scale, how might we tip the scales back to a world governed wisely by human judgment and networks of trust? Would Facebook and Twitter be more beneficial for society if they were public services like the BBC? And how do we settle on the social norms that help ensure the ethical deployment of A.I.? These and many other questions grow from the boundary-challenging developments of rapid innovation that define our century — a world in which the familiar dyads of state and market, public and private, individual and institutional are all called into question.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with two researchers helping to rethink political economy:

SFI External Professor Eric Beinhocker is the Professor of Public Policy Practice at the University of Oxford, and founder and Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the University’s Oxford Martin School. He is also the author of The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society.

Diane Coyle is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, and co-director of the Bennett Institute, whose latest book — Cogs and Monsters: What Economics Is, and What It Should Be— was published by Princeton University Press last fall.

In the first episode of this subseries, we spoke with SFI President David Krakauer about how the study of political economy has changed over the last two hundred years due to the innovation of new mathematical and computational methods.  In this episode, we examine how the technological milieu that empowered these changes has also transformed the subject of study itself:  digital surveillance architecture, social media networks, big data, and (largely inadequate) attempts to formalize econometrics have all had a profound impact on modern life. In what ways do new institutions beget even newer institutions to address their unintended consequences? How should we think about the complex relationships between private and public agencies, and what status should we give the data they produce and consume? What is it going to take to restore the trust in one another necessary for society to remain coherent, and what are the most important measures to help economists and policymakers navigate the turbulence of our times into a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable world?

Subscribe to Complexity Podcast for upcoming episodes with an acclaimed line-up of scholars including Ricardo HausmannDoyne FarmerSteven TelesRajiv SethiJenna BednarTom GinsburgNiall FergusonNeal StephensonPaul SmaldinoC. Thi NguyenJohn KayJohn Geneakoplos, and many more to be announced…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage. You can find the complete show notes for every episode, with transcripts and links to cited works, at complexity.simplecast.com.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentions and additional resources:

Toward a New Ontological Framework for the Economic Good
by Eric D. Beinhocker

Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium
edited by W. Brian Arthur, Eric Beinhocker, Allison Stanger

Socializing Data
by Diane Coyle

The Public Option
by Diane Coyle

Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership
by Lewis Hyde

Pitchfork Economics
by Nick Hanauer

The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves
by W. Brian Arthur

Geoffrey West on Complexity 35

Will A Large Complex System Be Stable?
by Robert May

Blockchain: Trust Companies: Every Company Is at Risk of Being Disrupted by A Trusted Version of Itself
by Richie Etwaru

Helena Miton on Complexity 46

The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative
by Sam Bowles, Wendy Carlin

Recoupling Economic and Social Prosperity
by Katharina Lima de Miranda, Dennis J. Snower

Signalling architectures can prevent cancer evolution
by Leonardo Oña & Michael Lachmann

Why we should have a public option version of Google and Facebook (response to Diane Coyle)
by James Pethokoukis

Bryant Walker Smith on Complexity 79

“Premature optimization is the root of all evil."
— Donald Knuth

May 06, 2022
David Krakauer on Emergent Political Economies and A Science of Possibility (EPE 01)
00:52:57

The world is unfair — but how much of that unfairness is inevitable, and how much is just contingency? After centuries of efforts to arrive at formal theories of history, society, and economics, most of us still believe and act on what amounts to myth. Our predecessors can’t be faulted for their lack of data, but in 2022 we have superior resources we’re only starting to appreciate and use. In honor of the Santa Fe Institute’s new role as the hub of an international research network exploring Emergent Political Economies, we dedicate this new sub-series of Complexity Podcast to conversations on money, power, governance, and justice. Subscribe for a new stream of dialogues and trialogues between SFI’s own diverse scholastic community and other acclaimed political economists, historians, and authors of speculative fiction.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode, we talk with SFI President David Krakauer about the goals of this research theme and what SFI brings to the table. We discuss the legacy of long-standing challenges to quantitative history and mathematical economics, how SFI thinks differently about these topics, and a brief outline of the major angles we’ll explore in this sub-series over the next year-plus — including the roles of dimension, causality, algorithms, scaling, innovation, emergence, and more.

Subscribe to Complexity Podcast for upcoming episodes with an acclaimed line-up of scholars including Diane Coyle, Eric Beinhocker, Ricardo Hausmann, Doyne Farmer, Steven Teles, Rajiv Sethi, Jenna Bednar, Tom Ginsburg, Niall Ferguson, Neal Stephenson, Paul Smaldino, C. Thi Nguyen, John Kay, John Geneakoplos, and many more to be announced…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage. You can find the complete show notes for every episode, with transcripts and links to cited works, at complexity.simplecast.com.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

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Mentions and additional resources:

Emergent Political Economies and A Science of Possibility
by David Krakauer for SFI Parallax Newsletter, Spring 2022 Edition

Policing stabilizes construction of social niches in primates
by Jessica Flack, Michelle Girvan, Frans de Waal, and David Krakauer in Nature

Conflicts of interest improve collective computation of adaptive social structures
by Eleanor Brush, David Krakauer, and Jessica Flack in Science Advances

The Star Gazer and the Flesh Eater: Elements of a Theory of Metahistory
by David C. Krakauer in History, Big History, and Metahistory at SFI Press

The Cultural Evolution of National Constitutions
by Daniel Rockmore, Chen Fang, Nick Foti, Tom Ginsburg, & David Krakauer in SSRN

Scaling of Hunter-Gatherer Camp Size and Human Sociality
by José Lobo, Todd Whitelaw, Luís M. A. Bettencourt, Polly Wiessner, Michael E. Smith, & Scott Ortman in Current Anthropology

W. Brian Arthur on Complexity Podcast (eps. 13, 14, 68, 69)

Reflections on COVID-19 with David Krakauer & Geoffrey West (Complexity Podcast)

The Dawn of Everything
by David Graeber and David Wengrow at Macmillan Publishers

Mitch Waldrop speaks on the history of SFI (Twitter excerpts)

The Hedgehog and the Fox
by Isaiah Berlin

War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy

On the Application of Mathematics to Political Economy
by F. Y. Edgeworth in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society

How Economics Became A Mathematical Science
by E. Roy Weintraub at Duke University Press

Machine Dreams
by Philip Mirowski at Cambridge University Press

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (TV series)
by Adam Curtis for BBC

Can’t Get You Out of My Head (TV series)
by Adam Curtis for BBC

The Collective Computation Group at SFI

Seeing Like A State
by James. C Scott at Yale Books

Uncertain times
by Jessica Flack and Melanie Mitchell at Aeon

At the limits of thought
by David Krakauer at Aeon

Preventative Citizen-Based Medicine
by David Krakauer for the SFI Transmissions: Reflections series

The uncertainty paradox. Can science make uncertainty optimistic?
by Stuart Firestein (SFI Seminar)

Editorial note: At one point DK mentions "John" Steuart but meant James Steuart, author of
An Inquiry Into the Principles of Political Economy
(a more thoroughly-indexed and searchable version can be found here)

Apr 21, 2022
C. Brandon Ogbunu on Epistasis & The Primacy of Context in Complex Systems
01:14:17

Context is king: whether in language, ecology, culture, history, economics, or chemistry. One of the core teachings of complexity science is that nothing exists in isolation — especially when it comes to systems in which learning, memory, or emergent behaviors play a part. Even though this (paradoxically) limits the universality of scientific claims, it also lets us draw analogies between the context-dependency of one phenomenon and others: how protein folding shapes HIV evolution is meaningfully like the way that growing up in a specific neighborhood shapes educational and economic opportunity; the paths through a space of all possible four-letter words are constrained in ways very similar to how interactions between microbes impact gut health; how we make sense both depends on how we’ve learned and places bounds on what we’re capable of seeing.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we talk to Yale evolutionary biologist C. Brandon Ogbunu (Twitter, Google Scholar, GitHub) about the importance of environment to the activity and outcomes of complex systems — the value of surprise, the constraints of history, the virtue and challenge of great communication, and much more. Our conversation touches on everything from using word games to teach core concepts in evolutionary theory, to the ways that protein quality control co-determines the ability of pathogens to evade eradication, to the relationship between human artists, algorithms, and regulation in the 21st Century. Brandon works not just in multiple scientific domains but as the author of a number of high-profile blogs exploring the intersection of science and culture — and his boundaryless fluency shines through in a discussion that will not be contained, about some of the biggest questions and discoveries of our time.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. You'll find plenty of other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Discussed in this episode:

“I do my science biographically…I find a personal connection to the essence of the question.”

– C. Brandon Ogbunugafor on RadioLab

"Environment x everything interactions: From evolution to epidemics and beyond"
Brandon’s February 2022 SFI Seminar (YouTube Video + Live Twitter Coverage)

A Reflection on 50 Years of John Maynard Smith’s ‘Protein Space’
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor in GENETICS

Collective Computing: Learning from Nature
David Krakauer presenting at the Foresight Institute in 2021 (with reference to Rubik’s Cube research)

Optimal Policies Tend to Seek Power
Alexander Matt Turner, Logan Smith, Rohin Shah, Andrew Critch, Prasad Tadepalli in arXiv

A New Take on John Maynard Smith's Concept of Protein Space for Understanding Molecular Evolution
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor, Daniel Hartl in PLOS Computational Biology

The 300 Most Common Words
by Bruce Sterling

The Host Cell’s Endoplasmic Reticulum Proteostasis Network Profoundly Shapes the Protein Sequence Space Accessible to HIV Envelope
Jimin Yoon, Emmanuel E. Nekongo, Jessica E. Patrick, Angela M. Phillips, Anna I. Ponomarenko, Samuel J. Hendel, Vincent L. Butty, C. Brandon Ogbunugafor, Yu-Shan Lin, Matthew D. Shoulders in bioRxiv

Competition along trajectories governs adaptation rates towards antimicrobial resistance
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor, Margaret J. Eppstein in Nature Ecology & Evolution

Scientists Need to Admit What They Got Wrong About COVID
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor in WIRED

Deconstructing higher-order interactions in the microbiota: A theoretical examination
Yitbarek Senay, Guittar John, Sarah A. Knutie, C. Brandon Ogbunugafor in bioRxiv

What Makes an Artist in the Age of Algorithms?
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor in WIRED

Not mentioned in this episode but still worth exploring:

“Part of what I was getting after with Blackness had to do with authoring ideas that are edgy or potentially threatening. That as a scientist, you can generate ideas in the name of research, in the name of breaking new ground, that may stigmatize you. That may kick you out of the club, so to speak, because you’re not necessarily following the herd.”
– Physicist Stephon Alexander in an interview with Brandon at Andscape

How Afrofuturism Can Help The World Mend
C. Brandon Ogbunugafor in WIRED

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified long-standing racial disparities in the United States criminal justice system
Brennan Klein, C. Brandon Ogbunugafor, Benjamin J. Schafer, Zarana Bhadricha, Preeti Kori, Jim Sheldon, Nitish Kaza, Emily A. Wang, Tina Eliassi-Rad, Samuel V. Scarpino, Elizabeth Hinton in medRxiv

Also mentioned:

Simon Conway Morris, Geoffrey West, Samuel Scarpino, Rick & Morty, Stuart Kauffman, Frank Salisbury, Stephen Jay Gould, Frances Arnold, John Vervaeke, Andreas Wagner, Jennifer Dunne, James Evans, Carl Bergstrom, Jevin West, Henry Gee, Eugene Shakhnovich, Rafael Guerrero, Gregory Bateson, Simon DeDeo, James Clerk Maxwell, Melanie Moses, Kathy Powers, Sara Walker, Michael Lachmann, and many others...

Apr 08, 2022
Mingzhen Lu on The Evolution of Root Systems & Biogeochemical Cycling
00:53:36

As fictional Santa Fe Institute chaos mathematician Ian Malcolm famously put it, “Life finds a way” — and this is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than by roots: seeking out every opportunity, improving in their ability to access and harness nutrients as they’ve evolved over the last 400 million years. Roots also exemplify another maxim for living systems: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” As the Earth’s climate has transformed, the plants and fungi have transformed along with it, reaching into harsh and unstable environments and proving themselves in a crucible of evolutionary innovation that has reshaped the biosphere. Dig deep enough and you’ll find that life, like roots, trends toward the ever-finer, more adaptable, more intertwined…we all live in and on Charles Darwin’s “tangled bank”, whether we recognize it in our farms, our markets, or our minds.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we talk to SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Mingzhen Lu (Google Scholar, Twitter) about the lessons of the invisible webwork beneath our feet, the hidden world upon which all of us walk and rely — largely unnoticed, and until recently scarcely understood. We discuss the intersection of geography, ecology, and economics; the relationship between the so-called “Wood-Wide Web” and urban systems; how plants domesticated mycorrhizal fungi much as humans domesticated animals and plants; the evolutionary trends revealed by a paleoecological study of roots and what they suggest for the future of technology and civilization… This episode is an especially intertwingled and far-reaching one, as suits the topic. Plant yourself and soak it up!

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. You'll find plenty of other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Discussed in this episode:

Evolutionary history resolves global organization of root functional traits
by Zeqing Ma, Dali Guo, Xingliang Xu, Mingzhen Lu, Richard D. Bardgett, David M. Eissenstat, M. Luke McCormack & Lars O. Hedin
in Nature

Global plant-symbiont organization and emergence of biogeochemical cycles resolved by evolution-based trait modelling
by Mingzhen Lu, Lars O. Hedin
in PubMed

Biome boundary maintained by intense belowground resource competition in world’s thinnest-rooted plant community
by Mingzhen Lu, William J. Bond, Efrat Sheffer, Michael D. Cramer, Adam G. West, Nicky Allsopp, Edmund C.  February,  Samson Chimphango, Zeqing Ma, Jasper A. Slingsby, and Lars O. Hedin
in PNAS

Complexity ep. 8 - Olivia Judson on Major Energy Transitions in Evolutionary History

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth
by Henry Gee (Senior Editor of Nature)

"General statistical model shows that macroevolutionary patterns and processes are consistent with Darwinian gradualism
by SFI Professor Mark Pagel
in Nature
Complexity ep. 29 - On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer

Childhood as a solution to explore–exploit tensions
by SFI Professor Alison Gopnik
in Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B

Complexity ep. 35 - Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West

Complexity ep. 17 - Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Complexity ep. 60 - Andrea Wulf on The Invention of Nature, Part 1: Humboldt's Naturegemälde

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick

The Shock Doctrine
by Naomi Klein

Doughnut Economics
by Kate Raworth

The Long Descent
by John Michael Greer

6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World
by Paul Stamets

Complexity ep. 43 - Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities

The Expanse (novel series)
by James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck, here at IPFest 2019 on our World Building panel)

Mar 26, 2022
The Ethics of Autonomous Vehicles with Bryant Walker Smith
00:57:01

Autonomous vehicles hardly live up to their name. The goal of true “driverlessness” was originally hyped in the 1930s but keeps getting kicked further and further into the future as the true complexity of driving comes into ever-sharper and more daunting focus. In 2022, even the most capable robotic cars aren’t self-determining agents but linked into swarms and acting as the tips of a vast and hidden web of design, programming, legislation, and commercial interest. Infrastructure is more than the streets and signs but includes licensing requirements, road rules, principles of product liability, and many other features that form the landscape to which driverless cars continue to adapt, and which they will increasingly alter.

While most ethical debates about them seem to focus on the so-called “Trolley Problem” of how to teach machines to make decisions that minimize human casualties, there are many other wicked problems to consider:

Is automated driving a technological solution or a policy solution? Should policymakers have the same expectations for automated and conventional driving? How safe must an automated vehicle be for deployment? Should humans or computers have ultimate authority over a given action? Should harm that a human could have prevented somehow outweigh harm that a human caused? Given that a hacker could infect entire fleets, maps, or real-time communication between cars, how much new risk are we willing to take to reduce the more traditional safety hazards with which we are familiar? And, perhaps most surreally: How do you ticket a robot, and who should pay?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on complexity, we speak to Bryant Walker Smith (Twitter) at the University of South Carolina School of Law and The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford, whose work centers on the ethics of autonomous vehicles. We link up to explore the myriad complexities — technological, regulatory, and sociocultural — surrounding the development and roll-out of new mobility platforms that challenge conventional understanding of the boundaries between person, vehicle, institution, and infrastructure. Buckle up and lean back for a dynamic discussion on the ever-shifting locii of agency, privacy and data protection, the relationship between individuals, communities, and corporations…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Discussed:

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence in Transport
Who is driving driverless cars?
From driverless dilemmas to more practical commonsense tests for automated vehicles
Who’s Responsible When A Self-Driving Car Crashes?
How Do You Ticket a Driverless Car?
Controlling Humans and Machines
Regulation and the Risk of Inaction
Government Assessment of Innovation Shouldn’t Differ for Tech Companies
New Technologies and Old Treaties
It’s Not The Robot’s Fault! Russian and American Perspectives on Responsibility for Robot Harms

Mentioned:

Melanie Mitchell - A.I.: A Guide for Thinking People + Complexity ep. 21
Kathy Powers & Melanie Moses on The Complexity of Harm, Complexity ep. 75
Cris Moore on Algorithmic Injustice, Complexity ep. 51
Luis Bettencourt on Urban Networks, Complexity ep. 4
Sabine Hauert on Swarming Robots, Complexity ep. 3
Kevin Kelly - Out of Control
Emergent Engineering
Cory Doctorow
Jake Harper (formerly of Zoox)
InterPlanetary Festival
Jose Luis Borges
W. Brian Arthur - The Nature of Technology + Complexity ep. 13
Ricardo Hausmann
Amazon Prime Video - Upload
Charles Stross - Halting State
Doyne Farmer on Market Malfunction, Complexity ep. 56
Marten Scheffer on Autocorrelation & Collapse, Complexity ep. 33

Mar 11, 2022
Elizabeth Hobson on Animal Dominance Hierarchies
01:13:37

Irrespective of your values, if you’re listening to this, you live in a pecking order. Dominance hierarchies, as they’re called by animal behaviorists, define the lives of social creatures. The society itself is a kind of individual that gathers information and adapts to its surroundings by encoding stable environmental features in the power relationships between its members. But what works for the society at large often results in violence and inequity for its members; as the founder of this field of research put it, “A grave seriousness lies over the chicken yard.” Over the last hundred years, the science of dominance hierarchies has bloomed faster than a saloon brawl — branching out for deeper understanding of the lives of everything from fish to insects, apes to parakeets. Today, amidst clashing national and corporate titans, systemic economic inequality, and legitimacy crises in the institutions that once served to maintain (admittedly unfair) order, the time is ripe to turn to and learn from what science has discovered about the fundamental mechanisms that underly both human nature and the rest of it: who loses and who wins, and why, and at what cost?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with former ASU-SFI Fellow Elizabeth Hobson (Website | Twitter), now an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, about the last century of pecking order research. Dobson just co-edited an issue of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B devoted to this topic, and we unpack her and others’ contributions to this volume — including retrospectives, literature reviews, quantitative analysis, and a look at the current state and frontiers of the science of what we can colloquially call “punching up and down”…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
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Papers & People Discussed Include:

• The centennial of the pecking order: current state and future prospects for the study of dominance hierarchies
Eli D. Strauss, James P. Curley, Daizaburo Shizuka and Elizabeth A. Hobson
• Quantifying the dynamics of nearly 100 years of dominance hierarchy research
Elizabeth A. Hobson
• DomArchive: a century of published dominance data
Eli D. Strauss, Alex R. DeCasien, Gabriela Galindo, Elizabeth A. Hobson, Daizaburo Shizuka and James P. Curley
• Social hierarchies and social networks in humans
Daniel Redhead and Eleanor A. Power
• Dominance in humans
Tian Chen Zeng, Joey T. Cheng and Joseph Henrich
• From equality to hierarchy
Simon DeDeo and Elizabeth A. Hobson
• More is Different
Phil Anderson
• Environmentally Mediated Social Dilemmas
Sylvie Estrela, Eric Libby, Jeremy Van Cleve, Florence Débarre, Maxime Deforet, William R. Harcombe, Jorge Peña, Sam P. Brown, Michael E. Hochberg

• Jessica Flack
• Michael Mauboussin
• Joshua Bell
• Robert Kegan
• Thorleif Schjelderup-Ebbe

Related Podcast Episodes Include:

• Sidney Redner on Statistics and Everyday Life
• Simon DeDeo on Good Explanations & Diseases of Epistemology
• Deborah Gordon on Ant Colonies as Distributed Computers
• Jonas Dalege on The Physics of Attitudes & Beliefs
• Fractal Conflicts & Swing Voters with Eddie Lee
• Fighting Hate Speech with AI & Social Science (with Joshua Garland, Mirta Galesic, and Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi)
• Matthew Jackson on Social & Economic Networks
• Rajiv Sethi on Stereotypes, Crime, and The Pursuit of Justice

Feb 25, 2022
Hard Sci-Fi Worldbuilding, Robotics, Society, & Purpose with Gary Bengier
00:54:18

As a careful study of the world, science is reflective and reactive — it constrains our flights of fancy, anchors us in hard-won fact. By contrast, science fiction is a speculative world-building exercise that guides imagination and foresight by marrying the known with the unknown. The field is vast; some sci-fi writers pay less tribute to the line between the possible and the impossible. Others, though, adopt a far more sober tactic and write “hard” sci fi that does its best to stay within the limits of our current paradigm while rooting visions of the future that can grow beyond and beckon us into a bigger, more adventurous reality.

The question we might ask, though, is: which one is which? Our bounded rationality, our sense for what is plausible, is totally dependent on our personal life histories, cultural conditioning, information diet, and social network biases. One person’s linear projections seem too conservative; another person’s exponential change seems like a fantasy. If we can say one thing about our complex world, it might be that it always has, and always will, defy our expectations…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we join up with Caitlin McShea and the InterPlanetary Project’s Alien Crash Site podcast for a wild discussion with SFI Trustee, technologist, and philosopher Gary Bengier about his science fiction novel Unfettered Journey. This book takes readers forward more than a century into a highly automated, highly-stratified post-climate-change world in which our protaganist defies the rigid norms of his society to follow fundamental questions about mind, life, purpose, meaning, consciousness, and truth. It is a perfect backdrop to our conversation on the role of complex systems science in our understanding of both present-day society and the futures that may, or may never, come to pass…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Go Deeper With These Related Media

Science:
Paul Smaldino: The evolution of covert signaling in diverse societies
Geoffrey West: Scale
Bob May: Will a Large Complex System be Stable?
Melanie Mitchell: The Collapse of Artificial Intelligence
Melanie Mitchell: On Crashing The Barrier of Meaning in AI
Elisa Heinrich Mora et al.: Scaling of Urban Income Inequality in the United States
SFI ACtioN Climate Change Seminar: Complexity of Sustainability
Raissa D’Souza: The Collapse of Networks
David Krakauer: Preventative Citizen-Based Medicine
Simon DeDeo & Elizabeth Hobson: From equality to hierarchy
Peter Turchin: The Double Helix of Inequality and Well-Being

Speculative Fiction:
2019 IPFest World Building Panel Discussion with Rebecca Roanhorse, James S.A. Correy, and Cris Moore
Robin Hanson: Age of Em
Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged
Peter Watts: Blindsight
Isaac Asimov: Foundation
The Strugatsky Brothers: Roadside Picnic

Podcast Episodes:
Complexity 10: Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation
Complexity 14: W. Brian Arthur (Part 2) on The Future of The Economy
Complexity 19: David Kinney on the Philosophy of Science
Complexity 21: Melanie Mitchell on Artificial Intelligence: What We Still Don't Know
Complexity 22: Nicole Creanza on Cultural Evolution in Humans & Songbirds
Complexity 36: Geoffrey West on Scaling, Open-Ended Growth, and Accelerating Crisis/Innovation Cycles: Transcendence or Collapse? (Part 2)
Complexity 51: Cris Moore on Algorithmic Justice & The Physics of Inference
The Jim Rutt Show 152: Gary Bengier on Hard Sci-Fi Futures

Feb 11, 2022
Multiscale Crisis Response: Melanie Moses & Kathy Powers, Part 2
00:46:07

COVID has exposed and possibly amplified the polarization of society. What can we learn from taking a multiscale approach to crisis response? There are latencies in economies of scale, inequality of access and supply chain problems. The virus evolves faster than peer review. Science is politicized. But thinking across scales offers answers, insights, better questions…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we conclude our conversation (recorded on December 9th last year) with SFI External Professors Kathy Powers, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico, and Melanie Moses, Director of the Moses Biological Computation Lab at the University of New Mexico.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. Please also be aware of our new SFI Press book, The Complex Alternative, which gathers over 60 complex systems research points of view on COVID-19 (including those from this show). Learn more at SFIPress.org. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Spatially distributed infection increases viral load in a computational model of SARS-CoV-2 lung infection
by Melanie E. Moses et al. incl. Stephanie Forrest

Sunsetting As An Adaptive Strategy
by Roberta Romano and Simon A. Levin

The Virus That Infected The World
by David Krakauer & Dan Rockmore

A Model For A Just COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Legacies of Harm, Social Mistrust & Political Blame Impede A Robust Societal Response to The Evolving COVID-19 Pandemic
How To Fix The Vaccine Rollout
Models That Protect The Vulnerable
Complexities in Repair for Harm (Kathy’s SFI Seminar)

"The inevitable shift towards science as crisis response is a call to arms for complexity science. How well we will be able to meet these challenges will determine the future path of humanity."
- Miguel Fuentes

Also Mentioned:

Jessica Flack, James C. Scott, Sam Bowles, Wendy Carlin, Joseph Henrich, Luis Bettencourt, Matthew Jackson, David Kinney

Jan 27, 2022
Fractal Inequality & The Complexity of Repair: Kathy Powers & Melanie Moses, Part 1
00:46:03

Some people say we’re all in the same boat; others say no, but we’re all in the same storm. Wherever you choose to focus the granularity of your inquiry, one thing is certain: we are all embedded in, acting on, and being acted upon by the same nested networks. Our fates are intertwined, but our destinies diverge like weather forecasts, hingeing on small variations in contingency: the circumstances of our birth, the changing contexts of our lives. Seen through a complex systems science lens, the problem of unfairness — in economic opportunity, in health care access, in susceptibility to a pandemic — stays wicked. But the insights therein could steer society toward a much better future, or at least help mitigate the worst of what we’re left to deal with now. This is where the rubber meets the road — where quantitative models of the lung could inform economic policy, and research into how we make decisions influences who survives the complex crises of this decade.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, in a conversation recorded on December 9th 2021, we speak with SFI External Professors Kathy Powers, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico, and Melanie Moses, Director of the Moses Biological Computation Lab at the University of New Mexico. In the first part of a conversation that — like COVID itself — will not be contained, and spends much of its time visiting the poor and under-represented, we discuss everything from how the network topology of cities shapes the outcome of an outbreak to how vaccine hesitancy is a path-dependent trust fail anchored in the history of oppression. Melanie and Kathy offer insights into how to fix the vaccine rollout, how better scientific models can protect the vulnerable, and how — with the help of complex systems thinking — we may finally be able to repair the structural inequities that threaten all of us, one boat or many.  Subscribe for Part Two in two weeks!

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. Please also be aware of our new SFI Press book, The Complex Alternative, which gathers over 60 complex systems research points of view on COVID-19 (including those from this show) — and that PhD students are now welcome to apply for our tuitionless (!) Summer 2022 SFI GAINS residential program in Vienna. Learn more at SFIPress.org and SantaFe.edu/Gains, respectively. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

A Model For A Just COVID-19 Vaccination Program
Legacies of Harm, Social Mistrust & Political Blame Impede A Robust Societal Response to The Evolving COVID-19 Pandemic
How To Fix The Vaccine Rollout
Models That Protect The Vulnerable
Complexities in Repair for Harm (Kathy’s SFI Seminar)
How a coastline 100 million years ago influences modern election results in Alabama @ Reddit
🎧 Better Scientific Modeling for Ecological & Social Justice with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 7)
🎧 Cris Moore on Algorithmic Justice & The Physics of Inference
🎧 Mirta Galesic on Social Learning & Decision-making
🎧 Matthew Jackson on Social & Economic Networks
🎧 Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities

Mentions Include:

Johan Chu, James Evans, Sam Scarpino, Simon DeDeo, Tony Eagan, Matthew Jackson, Mirta Galesic, Stuart Firestein, David Kinney, Jessica Flack, Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin, Cris Moore, Miguel Fuentes, Stephanie Forrest, David Krakauer, Luis Bettencourt

Many additional resources in the show notes for the next episode!  Stay tuned…

Jan 13, 2022
Reflections on COVID-19 with David Krakauer & Geoffrey West
01:10:52

If you’re honest with yourself, you’re likely asking of the last two years: What happened? The COVID-19 pandemic is a prism through which our stories and predictions have refracted…or perhaps it’s a kaleidoscope, through which we can infer relationships and causes, but the pieces all keep shifting. One way to think about humankind’s response to COVID is as a collision between predictive power and understanding, highlighting how far the evolution of our comprehension has trailed behind the evolution of our tools. Another way of looking at it is in terms of bottlenecks and reservoirs — whether it’s N95 mask distribution, log-jammed shipping lanes, or everybody looking up to Tony Fauci, superspreader events or narrative rupture, COVID is a global crash course in how things flow through networks. Ultimately, the effects go even deeper: How has COVID changed our understanding of individuality — the self and its relationship to other selves?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this special year-end wrap-up episode, we speak with  SFI President David Krakauer and former SFI President and Distinguished Professor Geoffrey West about The Complex Alternative, a new SFI Press volume gathering the perspectives of over 60 members of the complex systems research community on COVID-19 — not just the disease but the webbed and embedded systems it revealed.

Complexity Podcast will take a winter hiatus over the holidays and return on Wednesday, January 12th. If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. Please also be aware that PhD students are now welcome to apply for our tuitionless (!) Summer 2022 SFI GAINS residential program in Vienna, Austria. Learn more at santafe.edu/gains.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

The Complex Alternative: Complexity Scientists on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Selected contributions from that volume:
David Kinney - Why We Can’t Depoliticize A Pandemic
Simon DeDeo - From Virus To Symptom
On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 3)
Bill Miller on Investment Strategies in Times of Crisis
Cristopher Moore on the heavy tail of outbreaks
Sidney Redner on exponential growth processes
Anthony Eagan - The COVID-19-Induced Explosion of Boutique Narratives
Carrie Cowan on the future of education
Melanie Mitchell - The Double-Edged Sword of Imperfect Metaphors
Danielle Allen, E. Glen Weyl, and Rajiv Sethi - Prediction and Policy in a Complex System

Additional Media:
John Kaag - What Thoreau can teach us about the Great Resignation
Kyle Harper - The Fall of the Roman Empire (SFI Talk)
Niall Ferguson’s Networld, Part 1 “Disruption” feat. Geoffrey West
Neal Stephenson, SFI Miller Scholar
The Limits of Human Scale - David Pakman interviews Geoffrey West
Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin - The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative
Jonathan Rausch - The Constitution of Knowledge
Laurent Hébert-Dufresne on Halting the Spread of COVID-19
Sam Scarpino on Modeling Disease Transmission & Interventions
Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West (Part 1)
Geoffrey West on Scaling, Open-Ended Growth, and Accelerating Crisis/Innovation Cycles: Transcendence or Collapse? (Part 2)

New Directions in Science Emerge from Disconnection and Discord
by Yiling Lin, James Allen Evans, Lingfei Wu

Scaling of Urban Income Inequality in the United States
by Elisa Heinrich Mora, Jacob J. Jackson, Cate Heine, Geoffrey B. West, Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Christopher P. Kempes

Dec 22, 2021
Tina Eliassi-Rad on Democracies as Complex Systems
00:58:03

Democracy is a quintessential complex system: citizens’ decisions shape each other’s in nonlinear and often unpredictable ways; the emergent institutions exert top-down regulation on the individuals and orgs that live together in a polity; feedback loops and tipping points abound. And so perhaps it comes as no surprise in our times of turbulence and risk that democratic processes are under extraordinary pressure from the unanticipated influences of digital communications media, rapidly evolving economic forces, and the algorithms we’ve let loose into society.

In a new special feature at PNAS co-edited by SFI Science Board Member Simon Levin, fifteen international research teams map the jeopardy faced by democracies today — as Levin and the other editors write in their introduction to the issue, “the loss of diversity associated with polarization undermines cooperation and the ability of societies to provide the public goods that make for a healthy society.” And yet humankind has never been more well-equipped to understand the problems that we face. What can complex systems science teach us about this century’s threats to democracy, and how to mitigate or sidestep them? How might democracy itself transform as it adapts to our brave new world of extremist partisanship, exponential change, and epistemic crisis?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with SFI External Professor Tina Eliassi-Rad, Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University, about her complex systems research on democracy, what forces stabilize or upset democratic process, and how to rigorously study the relationships between technology and social change.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. Please also be aware of our new SFI Press book, The Complex Alternative, which gathers over 60 complex systems research points of view on COVID-19 (including those from this show) — and that PhD students are now welcome to apply for our tuitionless (!) Summer 2022 SFI GAINS residential program in Vienna. Learn more at SFIPress.org and SantaFe.edu/Gains, respectively. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Tina’s Website & Google Scholar Page

What science can do for democracy: a complexity science approach
Tina Eliassi-Rad, Henry Farrell, David Garcia, Stephan Lewandowsky, Patricia Palacios, Don Ross, Didier Sornette, Karim Thébault & Karoline Wiesner

Stability of democracies: a complex systems perspective
K Wiesner, A Birdi, T Eliassi-Rad, H Farrell, D Garcia, S Lewandowsky, P Palacios, D Ross, D Sornette and K Thébault

Measuring algorithmically infused societies
Claudia Wagner, Markus Strohmaier, Alexandra Olteanu, Emre Kıcıman, Noshir Contractor & Tina Eliassi-Rad

1 - David Krakauer on The Landscape of 21st Century Science
7 - Rajiv Sethi on Stereotypes, Crime, and The Pursuit of Justice
35 - Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West
38 - Fighing Hate Speech with AI & Social Science (Garland, Galesic, Olsson)
43 - Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities
51 - Cris Moore on Algorithmic Justice and The Physics of Inference

“Stewardship of global collective behavior” - Joe Bak-Coleman et al.

Michelle Girvan - Harnessing Chaos & Predicting The Unpredictable with A.I.

Transmission T-015: Anthony Eagan on Federalism in the time of pandemic
Transmission T-031: Melanie Moses and Kathy Powers on models that protect the vulnerable

Also Mentioned:

Simon DeDeo
Elizabeth Hobson
Danielle Allen
Alexander De Tocqueville
Stewart Brand
Safiya Noble
Filippo Menczer
Jessica Flack
Rajeev Gandhi
Scott Adams
David Brin

Dec 13, 2021
Simon DeDeo on Good Explanations & Diseases of Epistemology
01:21:03

What makes a satisfying explanation? Understanding and prediction are two different goals at odds with one another — think fundamental physics versus artificial neural networks — and even what defines a “simple” explanation varies from one person to another. Held in a kind of ecosystemic balance, these diverse approaches to seeking knowledge keep each other honest…but the use of one kind of knowledge to the exclusion of all others leads to disastrous results. And in the 21st Century, the difference between good and bad explanations determines how society adapts as rapid change transforms the world most people took for granted — and sends humankind into the epistemic wilds  to find new stories that will help us navigate this brave new world.

This week we dive deep with SFI External Professor Simon DeDeo at Carnegie Mellon University to explore his research into intelligence and the search for understanding, bringing computational techniques to bear on the history of science, information processing at the scale of society, and how digital technologies and the coronavirus pandemic challenge humankind to think more carefully about the meaning that we seek, here on the edge of chaos…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you  listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Works Discussed:

From Probability to Consilience: How Explanatory Values Implement Bayesian Reasoning
Zachary Wojtowicz & Simon DeDeo (+ SFI press release on this paper)

Supertheories and Consilience from Alchemy to Electromagnetism
Simon DeDeo (SFI lecture video)

From equality to hierarchy
Simon DeDeo & Elizabeth Hobson

The Complex Alternative: Complexity Scientists on the COVID-19 Pandemic
SFI Press (with “From Virus to Symptom” by Simon DeDeo)

Boredom and Flow: An Opportunity Cost Theory of Attention-Directing Motivational States
Zachary Wojtowicz, Nick Chater, & George Loewenstein

Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution
Jaeweon Shin, Michael Holton Price, David H. Wolpert, Hajime Shimao, Brendan Tracey, & Timothy A. Kohler 

Slowed canonical progress in large fields of science
Johan Chu and James Evans
Will A Large Complex System Be Stable?
Robert May

Related Podcast Episodes:

• Andy Dobson on Disease Ecology & Conservation Strategy

• Nicole Creanza on Cultural Evolution in Humans & Songbirds

• On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer

• Carl Bergstrom & Jevin West on Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

• Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities

• David Wolpert on The No Free Lunch Theorems and Why They Undermine The Scientific Method

• Science in The Time of COVID: Michael Lachmann & Sam Scarpino on Lessons from The Pandemic

• Jonas Dalege on The Physics of Attitudes & Beliefs

• Tyler Marghetis on Breakdowns & Breakthroughs: Critical Transitions in Jazz & Mathematics

Mentioned:

David Spergel, Zachary Wojtowicz, Stuart Kauffman, Jessica Flack, Thomas Bayes, Claude Shannon, Sean M. Carroll, Dan Sperber, David Krakauer, Marten Scheffer, David Deutsch, Jaewon Shin, Stuart Firestein, Bob May, Peter Turchin, David Hume, Jimmy Wales, Tyler Marghetis

Nov 24, 2021
Lauren Klein on Data Feminism (Part 2): Tracing Linguistic Innovation
00:33:23

Where does cultural innovation come from? Histories often simplify the complex, shared work of creation into tales of Great Men and their visionary genius — but ideas have precedents, and moments, and it takes two different kinds of person to have and to hype them. The popularity of “influencers” past and present obscures the collaborative social processes by which ideas are born and spread. What can new tools for the study of historical literature tell us about how languages evolve…and what might a formal understanding of innovation change about the ways we work together?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk conclude our two-part conversation with Emory University researcher Lauren Klein, co-author (with Catherine D'Ignazio) of the MIT Press volume Data Feminism. We talk tracing change in language use with topic modeling, the role of randomness in Data Feminism, and what this work ultimately does and does not say about the hidden seams of power in society…

Subscribe to Complexity wherever you listen to podcasts — and if you value our work, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give.

You can find numerous other ways to engage with us — including books, job openings, and open online courses — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio & Lauren Klein

“Dimensions of Scale: Invisible Labor, Editorial Work, and the Future of Quantitative Literary Studies” by Lauren Klein

“Abolitionist Networks: Modeling Language Change in Nineteenth-Century Activist Newspapers” by Sandeep Soni, Lauren Klein, Jacob Eisenstein

Our Twitter thread on Lauren’s SFI Seminar (with video link)

Disentangling ecological and taphonomic signals in ancient food webs” by Jack O Shaw, Emily Coco, Kate Wootton, Dries Daems, Andrew Gillreath-Brown, Anshuman Swain, Jennifer A Dunne

More resources in the show notes for Part 1: Surfacing Invisible Labor.

Nov 05, 2021
Lauren Klein on Data Feminism (Part 1): Surfacing Invisible Labor
00:46:10

When British scientist and novelist C.P. Snow described the sciences and humanities as “two cultures” in 1959, it wasn’t a statement of what could or should be, but a lament over the sorry state of western society’s fractured intellectual life. Over sixty years later the costs of this fragmentation are even more pronounced and dangerous. But advances in computing now make it possible for historians and engineers to speak in one another’s languages, catalyzing novel insights in each other’s home domains. And doing so, the academics working at these intersections have illuminated hidden veins in history: the unsung influence and cultural significance of those who didn’t write the victors’ stories. Their lives and work come into focus when we view them with the aid of analytic tools, which change our understanding of the stories we’ve inherited and the shape of power in our institutions. One strain of the digital humanities called data feminism helps bring much-needed rigor to textual study at the same time it reintroduces something crucial to a deeper reconciliation of the disciplines: a human “who” and “how” to complement the “what” we have inherited as fact.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to Emory University researcher Lauren Klein, co-author (with Catherine D'Ignazio) of the MIT Press volume Data Feminism. In Part 1 of a two-part conversation, we discuss how her work leverages the new toolkit of quantitative literary studies and transforms our understanding of historical dynamics — not just in the past, but those in action as we speak…

For Part 2 in two weeks, subscribe to Complexity wherever you listen to podcasts — and if you if you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give.

You can find numerous other ways to engage with us — including job openings and open online courses — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

 

Related Reading & Listening:

Data Feminism by Catherine D'Ignazio & Lauren Klein

“Dimensions of Scale: Invisible Labor, Editorial Work, and the Future of Quantitative Literary Studies” by Lauren Klein

Our Twitter thread on Lauren’s SFI Seminar (with video link)

Cognition all the way down by Michael Levin & Daniel Dennett

Complexity 34 - Better Scientific Modeling for Ecological & Social Justice

Complexity 42 - Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West on Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

Complexity 45 - David Wolpert on the No Free Lunch Theorems and Why They Undermine The Scientific Method

Complexity 64 - Reconstructing Ancient Superhighways with Stefani Crabtree & Devin White

 

Mentions Include:

Ruha Benjamin, Joy Buolamwini, Julia Lefkowitz, Ted Underwood, Derrick Spires, David Wolpert, Farita Tasnim, Stefani Crabtree, Devin White, Donna Haraway, Carl Bergstrom, Joe Bak-Coleman, Michael Levin, Dan Dennett

Oct 23, 2021
W. Brian Arthur (Part 2) on "Prim Dreams of Order vs. Messy Vitality" in Economics, Math, and Physics
01:03:09

Can you write a novel using only nouns? Well, maybe…but it won’t be very good, nor easy, nor will it tell a story. Verbs link events, allow for narrative, communicate becoming. So why, in telling stories of our economic lives, have people settled into using algebraic theory ill-suited to the task of capturing the fundamentally uncertain, open and evolving processes of innovation and exchange?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we bring our two-part conversation with SFI External Professor W. Brian Arthur to a climax — a visionary exploration of multiple scientific methodologies that takes us from the I Ching to AlphaGo, Henri Bergson to Claude Shannon, artificial life to a forgotten mathematics with the power to (just maybe) save the future from inadequate and totalizing axioms…

We pick up by revisiting the end of Part 1 in Episode 68 — if you’re just tuning in, you’ll want to double back for vital context.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us — including job openings for both SFI staff and postdoctoral researchers, as well as open online courses — at santafe.edu/engage.

Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

W. Brian Arthur on Complexity episodes 13, 14, & 68.

Economics in Nouns and Verbs” by W. Brian Arthur (+ @sfiscience Twitter thread excerpting the essay

Mathematical languages shape our understanding of time in physics” by Nicolas Gisin for Nature Physics

Quantum mechanical complementarity probed in a closed-loop Aharonov–Bohm interferometer” by Chang et al. in Nature Physics

Quantum interference experiments, modular variables and weak measurements” by Tollaksen et al. in New Journal of Physics

Oct 07, 2021
W. Brian Arthur on Economics in Nouns and Verbs (Part 1)
00:51:56

What is the economy?  People used to tell stories about the exchange of goods and services in terms of flows and processes — but over the last few hundred years, economic theory veered toward measuring discrete amounts of objects.  Why?  The change has less to do with the objective nature of economies and more to do with what tools theorists had available.  And scientific instruments — be they material technologies or concepts — don’t just make new things visible, but also hide things in new blind spots.  For instance, algebra does very well with ratios and quantities…but fails to properly address what markets do: how innovation works, where value comes from, and how economic actors navigate (and change) a fundamentally uncertain shifting landscape.  With the advent of computers, new opportunities emerge to study that which cannot be contained in an equation. Using algorithms, scientists can formalize complex behaviors – and thinking economics in both nouns and verbs provides a more complete and useful stereoscopic view of what we are and do.

This week we speak with W. Brian Arthur of The Santa Fe Institute, Stanford University, and Xerox PARC about his recent essay, “Economics in Nouns and Verbs.” In this first part of a two-part conversation, we explore how a mathematics of static objects fails to describe economies in motion — and how a process-based approach can fill gaps in our understanding.  If you can’t wait two weeks for Part Two, dig through our archives for more Brian Arthur in episodes 13 and 14.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us — including job openings for both SFI staff and postdoctoral researchers, as well as open online courses — at santafe.edu/engage.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

• “Economics in Nouns and Verbs” by W. Brian Arthur (pre-print)
@sfiscience Twitter thread excerpting “Economics in Nouns and Verbs”
• “Mathematical languages shape our understanding of time in physics” by Nicolas Gisin for Nature Physics
• “Introduction to PNAS special issue on evolutionary models of financial markets” by Simon Levin & Andrew Lo
• “The Information Theory of Individuality” by David Krakauer et al. for Theory in Biosciences
• “On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer” on Complexity Podcast
• “The Erotics of Becoming: XENOGENESIS and The Thing” by Eric White for Science Fiction Studies
• “New model shows how social networks could help generate economic phenomena like inequality & business cycles” by INET Oxford on research by J. Doyne Farmer

Sep 24, 2021
Tyler Marghetis on Breakdowns & Breakthroughs: Critical Transitions in Jazz & Mathematics
01:04:19

Whether in an ecosystem, an economy, a jazz ensemble, or a lone scholar thinking through a problem, critical transitions — breakdowns and breakthroughs — appear to follow universal patterns. Creative leaps that take place in how mathematicians “think out loud” with body, chalk, and board look much like changes in the movement through “music-space” traced by groups of improvisers. Society itself appears to have an “aha moment” when a meme goes viral or a new word emerges in the popular vocabulary. How do collectives at all scales — be they neurons, research groups, or a society at large — suddenly change shape…and what early warning signs portend a pending bolt of inspiration?

This week we talk to SFI Fellow Tyler Marghetis of UC Merced about regimes and ruptures across timescales — from the frustration and creativity of mathematicians and musicians to the bursts of innovation that appear to punctuate civilization and the biosphere alike.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn
 

Related Reading & Listening:

“Creative leaps in musical ecosystems: early warning signals of critical transitions in professional jazz” by Matt Setzler, Tyler Marghetis, Minje Kim

“The complex system of mathematical creativity: Modularity, burstiness, and the network structure of how experts use inscriptions” by Tyler Marghetis, Kate Sampson, David Landy

“An Integrated Mess of Music Lovers in Science” – press release with video playlist of the 2020 Musicology & Complexity Working Group

“Explosive Proofs of Mathematical Truths” – Simon DeDeo SFI Seminar on inductive networks

Complexity 29: David Krakauer

Complexity 33: Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer

Complexity 35, 36: Geoffrey West

Complexity 37: Laurence Gonzales

Complexity 65: Deborah Gordon

Topics Discussed:

• competitive wrestling to complex systems science
• free jazz ensembles as a mode of distributed cognition like ant colonies
• creative transitions as analogous to ecosystemic transitions (loss of resilience due to autocorrelation, etc)
• the difference between composed and improvised music
• creativity and boredom
• the relationship between improvisation and trauma, exploration and nonlinearity
• the death of the genre (?)
• the role of the body in thought
• how can you tell an “aha moment” is about to happen?
• what does a healthy mathematical ecosystem look like?
• burstiness and virality

Sep 08, 2021
Katherine Collins on Better Investing Through Biomimicry
01:06:28

We are all investors: we all make choices, all the time, about our allocation of time, calories, attention… Even our bodies, our behavior and anatomy, represent investment in specific strategies for navigating an evolving world. And yet most people treat the world of finance as if it is somehow separate from the rest of life — including people who design the tools of finance, or who come up with economic theories. Many of the human world’s problems can be traced back to this fundamental error, and, by extension, many of the problems we create for other life-forms on this planet. What changes when we take the time to pause, and listen, and reflect on how the biosphere already works? How do we balance innovation with sustainability, or growth with resource distribution? Could a careful study of nature not only lead to better business outcomes but also help us heal the living world?
 

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to SFI’s new Board Chair Katherine Collins, Head of Sustainable Investing at Putnam, about insights encoded in her book, The Nature of Investing. We discuss how investing has transformed in the 21st Century and what new challenges have emerged because of it; the tragedy of value capture; the push and pull between sustainability and efficiency; the consequential differences between risk and uncertainty, problems and mysteries; how multiple timescales interact to produce complexity in the market; balancing growth and development; and what all this means for those who want to do good and not just well with their investments…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn
 

Related Reading & Listening:
Katherine’s Website (where you can buy a copy of The Nature of Investing)

Katherine’s SFI Profile

SFIs Alien Crash Site 12 with Katherine Collins

Re: Putnam’s Sustainable Investing

ESG at Putnam: A Digital Resource Guide

“The coming battle for the COVID-19 narrative” by Samuel Bowles & Wendy Carlin

“Economics in Nouns and Verbs” by W. Brian Arthur

“The information theory of individuality” by David Krakauer, Nils Bertschinger, Eckehard Olbrich, Jessica C. Flack & Nihat Ay

“Industrial mass-capture fishing may undo the benefits of schooling, according to a new study from UC Santa Barbara co-authored by SFI Postdoc Albert Kao…”

“Group Decisions: When More Information Isn’t Necessarily Better”

Complexity 35, 36: Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West

Complexity 62, 63: Mark Ritchie on A New Thermodynamics of Biochemistry

Complexity 13, 14: W. Brian Arthur on The History & Future of Complexity Economics

Complexity 30: Rethinking Our Assumptions During the COVID-19 Crisis with David Krakauer

Aug 14, 2021
Deborah Gordon on Ant Colonies as Distributed Computers
00:54:15

The popular conception of ants is that “anatomy is destiny”: an ant’s body type determines its role in the colony, for once and ever. But this is not the case; rather than forming rigid castes, ants act like a distributed computer in which tasks are re-allocated as the situation changes. “Division of labor” implies a constant “assembly line” environment, not fluid adaptation to evolving conditions. But ants do not just “graduate” from one task to another as they age; they pivot to accept the work required by their colony in any given moment. In this “agile” and dynamic process, ants act more like verbs than nouns — light on specialization and identity, heavy on collaboration and responsiveness. 

What can we learn from ants about the strategies for thriving in times of uncertainty and turbulence?What are the algorithms that ants use to navigate environmental change, and how might they inform the ways that we design technologies? How might they teach us to invest more wisely, to explore more thoughtfully?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode we talk to SFI External Professor Deborah Gordon at Stanford University about the lessons we can learn from insect species whose individuals cannot be trained, but whose collective smarts have reshaped every continent. We muse on what the ants can teach us about a wide variety of real-world and philosophical concerns, including:  how our institutions age, how to fight cancer, how to build a more resilient Internet, and why the notion of the “individual” is overdue for renovation…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Key Links:

Deborah Gordon at Stanford

Deborah's TED Talk, "What Ants Can Teach Us About Brain Cancer and The Internet"

Deborah's Google Scholar Page

Deborah's book, Ants at Work: How an Insect Society is Organized

Further Exploration:

Complexity 10 with Melanie Moses (ants, scaling, and computation)

Complexity 29 with David Krakauer (catastrophe and investment strategy)

Complexity 56 with J. Doyne Farmer (market ecology)

Krakauer, et al., "The Information Theory of Individuality"

W. Brian Arthur, "Economics in Nouns & Verbs"

Michael Lachmann's research on Costly Signaling and Cancer

 

Jul 30, 2021
Reconstructing Ancient Superhighways with Stefani Crabtree and Devin White
01:06:01

Seventy thousand years ago, humans migrated on foot across the ancient continent of Sahul — the landmass that has since split up into  Australia and New Guinea. Mapping the journeys of these ancient voyagers is no small task: previous efforts to understand prehistoric migrations relied on coarse estimates based on genomic studies or on spotty records of recovered artifacts.

Now, progress in the fields of geographic information system mapping and agent-based modeling can help archaeologists run massive simulations that explore all likely paths across a landscape, bridging the view from orbit with thoughtful models of prehistoric peoples and how they moved through space.

The new research expands our scientific understanding of how ritual and story encode vital geographic features, and sheds light on how our modern world is the product of deep, ancient forces.

Agent-based modeling in archaeology can also help save lives by improving science communication, empowering stakeholders in cultural resource management, and facilitating better international planning and coordination as the climate crisis looms…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk with Stefani Crabtree, SFI Fellow and Assistant Professor in Socio-Environmental Modeling at Utah State University, and Devin White, R&D Manager for Autonomous Sensing & Perception at Sandia National Laboratories. Stefani and Devin are the first two authors on the recent Nature Human Behaviour paper, Landscape rules predict optimal superhighways for the first peopling of Sahul, a project at the bleeding edge of agent-based modeling for archaeology that simulated over 125 billion potential ancient migratory routes.

In our conversation, we discuss bringing advanced technologies to bear on research into human prehistory; the ways humans make sense of space; how our minds and landscapes inform each other; and the ways agent-based modeling might help avert disaster for the sedentary populations of our century.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

• Stefani’s Website

• Devin’s Webpage

• Landscape rules predict optimal superhighways for the first peopling of Sahul by Stefani A. Crabtree, Devin A. White, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Frédérik Saltré, Alan N. Williams, Robin J. Beaman, Michael I. Bird & Sean Ulm 

• Complexity 60: Andrea Wulf on Alexander von Humboldts Naturegemälde

• Complexity 33: The Future of the Human Climate Niche with Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer

Subscribe to updates from SFI Press on the upcoming ABM for Archaeology textbook

• Lauren Klein’s SFI Seminar: What is Feminist Data Science?

• Sam Bowles, Wendy Carlin, Suresh Naidu: Core Economics

• Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution by Jaeweon Shin, Michael Holton Price, David H. Wolpert, Hajime Shimao, Brendan Tracey & Timothy A. Kohler 

• The universal visitation law of human mobility by Markus Schläpfer, Lei Dong, Kevin O’Keeffe, Paolo Santi, Michael Szell, Hadrien Salat, Samuel Anklesaria, Mohammad Vazifeh, Carlo Ratti & Geoffrey B. West

• Outreach in Archaeology with Agent-Based Modeling in Advances in Archaeological Practice by Stefani Crabtree, Kathryn Harris, Benjamin Davies, and Iza Romanaowska

Jul 16, 2021
Mark Ritchie on A New Thermodynamics of Biochemistry, Part 2
00:45:48

This week we conclude our two-part discussion with ecologist Mark Ritchie of Syracuse University on how he and his SFI collaborators are starting to rethink the intersections of thermodynamics and biology to better fit our scientific models to the patterns we observe in nature. Most of what we know about the enzymatic processes of plant and animal metabolisms comes from test tube experiments, not studies in the context of a living organism. What changes when we zoom out and think about life’s manufacturing and distribution in situ?

Starting where we left off in in Episode 62, we tour the implications of Mark’s biochemistry research and ask: What can studying the metabolism of cells tell us about economics? How does a better model of photosynthesis change the way we think about climate change and the future of agriculture? Why might a pattern in the failure of plant enzymes help biologists define where to direct the search for life in space?

A better theory of the physics of biomolecules — and the networks in which they’re embedded — provides a clearer understanding of the limits for all living systems, and how those limits shape effective strategies for navigating our complex world.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate, and review this show at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Ritchie Lab at Syracuse University | Mark’s Google Scholar Page | Mark’s soil ecology startup

Reaction and diffusion thermodynamics explain optimal temperatures of biochemical reactions
by Mark Ritchie in Scientific Reports

Thermodynamics Of Far From Equilibrium Systems, Biochemistry, And Life In A Warming World [Mark Ritchie’s 2021 SFI Seminar + @SFIscience Twitter thread on Mark’s talk]

Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution
by Jaeweon Shin, Michael Holton Price, David H. Wolpert, Hajime Shimao, Brendan Tracey & Timothy A. Kohler

Generalized Stoichiometry and Biogeochemistry for Astrobiological Applications
by Christopher P. Kempes, Michael J. Follows, Hillary Smith, Heather Graham, Christopher H. House & Simon A. Levin 

Complexity 4: Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities

Complexity 5: Jennifer Dunne on Food Webs & ArchaeoEcology

Complexity 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Complexity 35: Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West

Complexity 41: Natalie Grefenstette on Agnostic Biosignature Detection

Alien Crash Site 15: Cole Mathis on Pathway Assembly and Astrobiology

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Cover artwork adapted from photos by Peter Nguyen and Torsten Wittmann (UCSF).

Jul 01, 2021
Mark Ritchie on A New Thermodynamics of Biochemistry, Part 1
00:40:45

Deep inside your cells, the chemistry of life is hard at work to make the raw materials and channel the energy required for growth, maintenance, and reproduction. Few systems are as intricate or as mysterious. For this reason, how a cell does what it does remains a frontier for research — and, consequently, theory often grows unchecked by solid data. Most of what we know about the enzymatic processes of plant and animal metabolisms comes from test tube experiments, not studies in the context of a living organism. How much has this necessarily reductionist approach misled us, and what changes when we zoom out and think about life’s manufacturing and distribution in situ?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we open a two-part discussion with ecologist Mark Ritchie of Syracuse University on how he and his SFI collaborators are starting to rethink the intersections of thermodynamics and biology to better fit our scientific models to the patterns we observe in nature. Beginning with his history of research into biodiversity, environmental science, and plant-herbivore dynamics, this conversation leads us to his latest work on photosynthesis and scaling laws in cells — an inquiry with potent implications that reach far beyond the microscopic realm, to economics and the future of sustainability.

Subscribe to stay tuned for Part Two, in which we travel even deeper into how Mark’s work relates to other SFI research — and what his new perspectives may reveal about the nature of the complex crises faced by both human beings and the biosphere at large...

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Ritchie Lab at Syracuse University | Mark’s Google Scholar Page | Mark’s soil ecology startup

Reaction and diffusion thermodynamics explain optimal temperatures of biochemical reactions by Mark Ritchie in Scientific Reports

Thermodynamics Of Far From Equilibrium Systems, Biochemistry, And Life In A Warming World [Mark Ritchie’s 2021 SFI Seminar + @SFIscience Twitter thread on Mark’s talk]

Complexity Podcast 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Complexity Podcast 35: Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West

Mentioned in this episode:

Sidney Redner
Geoffrey West
John Harte
Pablo Marquet
Jennifer Dunne
Brian Arthur
Chris Kempes

Jun 17, 2021
Andrea Wulf on The Invention of Nature, Part 2: Humboldt's Dangerous Idea
00:48:54

The 19th Century saw many transformations: the origins of ecology and modern climatology, new unifying theories of the living world, the first Big Science projects, revolutions in the Spanish colonies, new information systems for the storage and representation of data… Many of these can be traced back to the influence of one singular explorer, Alexander von Humboldt. Humboldt was one of the last true polymathic individuals in whom the sum of human knowledge could be seated. As the known world grew, he leaned increasingly upon the work and minds of his collaborators — a kind of human bridge between the age of solitary pioneers before him and the age of international, interdisciplinary research he helped usher into being.

Reflecting on his life, we natives of the new millennium, living through another phase transition in the information architecture of society, have much to learn about the challenges of weaving everything together into one holistic understanding. After all, when everything’s connected, our individuality is cast in doubt, truth is often hard to separate from politics and ethics — and maverick explorers find themselves caught in between incumbent power and the burden of responsibility to act on what they learn...

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we conclude a special two-part conversation with SFI Miller Scholar Andrea Wulf, author of six books — including the New York Times Bestseller The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World. In this episode we build on our explorations in Part One and talk about the conflicts between truth and power, politics and science; the surprising unintended consequences of discovery; Humboldt’s influence on   illustrator Ernst Haeckel’s development of the idea that nature is an art form; the role of embodiment in innovation, discovery, and creativity; and the effects of nature and the built environment on human thought.

If you value our research and communication efforts, Please subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading & Listening:

Complexity 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Complexity 20: Albert Kao on Animal Sociality & Collective Computation

Complexity 31: Exponentials, Economics, and Ecology

Conflicts of interest improve collective computation of adaptive social structures
Brush, Krakauer, Flack

Complex Systems Science Allows Us To See New Paths Forward
Flack, Mitchell

COVID-19 lockdowns provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study wildlife in empty cities
Yeh, MacGregor-Fors

American higher education must think outside the academy in a post-pandemic world
Cowan

Cognition All The Way Down
Levin, Dennett

Mentioned in this episode:

Chris Kempes
David Krakauer
Jessica Flack
Albert Kao
Carrie Cowan
Albert Einstein
Ernst Haeckel
Charles Darwin
Simón Bolívar
John Muir
Erasmus Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Michael Levin
Daniel Dennett

Jun 04, 2021
Andrea Wulf on The Invention of Nature, Part 1: Humboldt's Naturegemälde
00:51:08

When you hear the word “nature,” what comes to mind? Chances are, if you are listening to this in the 21st Century, the image is one of a vast, interconnected, living network — one in which you and your fellow human beings play a complicated part. And yet, this is a relatively recent way of thinking for the modern West. It takes a special kind of thinker — and a special kind of life — to find and recognize the patterns that connect different environments around the planet. Until the pioneering research of 19th-Century explorer Alexander von Humboldt, no one had ever noticed global similarities between the climates and creatures at a given altitude, on different continents. His legendary work popularized not only a new portrait of the world and its complex inter-relatedness, but innovated vastly influential ways of doing and communicating science — including novel data visualization and interdisciplinary international collaboration methods. 

Von Humboldt, though, would bristle at the notion that he stands alone as some Great Man in history, preferring to acknowledge not just the inspiration that he drew from poets and philosophers, but also the Indigenous peoples he met and worked with in his travels. His theories beg to be examined in light of the aesthetic sensibilities with which they were communicated, as well as their sociopolitical and philosophical impact — including how they fertilized the Transcendentalist Romantics, founded what we now call ecology, and exemplified a synthesis of Art and Science at which our age of vast but fragmented knowledge can only marvel.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week and next, we have a special two-part conversation for you with SFI Miller Scholar Andrea Wulf, author of six books — including the New York Times Bestseller The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, winner of the Royal Society Science Book Prize and too many others to name in this introduction. In Wulf’s words, “This is not a biography about this great man. This is the biography of an idea.” In part one we begin our journey in Prussia at the turn of the 19th Century — and in a rich milieu of daring minds including Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and how their philosophies formed the basis for a profound new vision of the natural world…

Subscribe to Complexity Podcast wherever you prefer to listen for part two next week.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Cris Moore - Complexity 51
Stefan Thurner
David Krakauer - Complexity 1
Merlin Sheldrake
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Edgar Mitchell
Rusty Schweickert
Dani Bassett - SFI Community Lecture, “Networks Thinking Themselves”
Kirell Benzi - SFI Seminar, “Data + Art = Better Science Communication”
Mark Moffett - Complexity 52
Humphry Davy
Charles Lyell
Michael Faraday

May 21, 2021
Sidney Redner on Statistics and Everyday Life
00:57:59

Complexity is all around us: in the paths we walk through pathless woods, the strategies we use to park our cars, the dynamics of an elevator as it cycles up and down a building. Zoom out far enough and the phenomena of everyday existence start revealing hidden links, suggesting underlying universal patterns. At great theoretic heights, it all yields to statistical analysis: winning streaks and traffic jams, card games and elevators. Boiling down complicated real-world situations into elegant toy models, physicists derive mathematical descriptions that transcend mundane particulars — helping us see daily life with fresh new eyes.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode, we speak to SFI Resident Professor Sidney Redner, author of A Guide to First-Passage Processes, about how he finds inspiration for his complex systems research in the everyday — and how he uses math and physics to explore hot hands, heat waves, parking lots, and more…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Key Links:

Sidney Redner’s SFI Webpage
Redner’s textbook, A Guide to First-Passage Processes

Papers Discussed:

Kinetics of clustering in traffic flows
Winning quick and dirty: the greedy random walk
When will an elevator arrive?
Role of global warming on the statistics of record-breaking temperatures
Understanding baseball team standings and streaks
Random Walk Picture of Basketball Scoring
Safe leads and lead changes in competitive team sports
Simple parking strategies
A Fresh Look at the “Hot Hand” Paradox
Citation Statistics from 110 Years of Physical Review

Explainer Animations:

Simple Parking Strategies: A Primer
"Sleeping Beauties" of Science: Unseen ≠ Unimportant
When Will An Elevator Arrive?


 

May 07, 2021
Orit Peleg on the Collective Behavior of Honeybees & Fireflies
01:00:58

“More than the sum of its parts” is practically the slogan of systems thinking. One canonical example is a beehive: individually, a honeybee is not that clever, but together they can function like shapeshifting metamaterials or mesh networks — some of humankind’s most sophisticated innovations. Emergent collective behavior is common in the insect world — and not just among superstar collaborators like bees, ants, and termites. One firefly, alone, blinks randomly; together, fireflies effect an awe-inspiring synchrony in large, coordinated light shows scientists are only starting to explain. It turns out that diversity is key, even in a swarm; variety improves the “computations” that these swarms perform as they adapt to their surroundings. Watch them self-organize for long enough and you might ask, “Is this what people do? What hidden patterns and emergent genius do we all participate in unawares?” If bees and fireflies inspire that kind of question in you, you’ll find yourself at home in this week’s episode…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this conversation, we talk to SFI External Professor Orit Peleg (Google Scholar, Twitter) at the University of Colorado Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute and Computer Science Department about her research into the collective behavior of bees and fireflies. These humble insects can, together, do amazing things — and what science shows about just how they do it points to deeper insights on the nature of noise, creativity, and life in our complex world.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn
 

Papers Discussed:

Collective mechanical adaptation in honeybee swarms

Collective ventilation in honeybee nests

Flow-mediated olfactory communication in honey bee swarms

Self-organization in natural swarms of Photinus carolinus synchronous fireflies

Spatiotemporal reconstruction of emergent flash synchronization in firefly swarms via stereoscopic 360-degree cameras

 

Further Listening & Reading:

Episode 29 — David Krakauer on Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity

Episode 56 — J. Doyne Farmer on The Complexity Economics Revolution

Stefani Crabtree — The archaeological record can teach us much about cultural resilience and how to adapt to exogenous threats

Annalee Newitz — Scatter, Adapt, and Remember

Laurence Gonzales on Behind The Shield Podcast

Michael Mauboussin — The Success Equation

Episode 55 — James Evans on Social Computing and Diversity by Design

@sfiscience on Orit Peleg’s research into honeybee olfactory communication

Apr 23, 2021
Jonas Dalege on The Physics of Attitudes & Beliefs
00:47:40

Human relationships are often described in the language of “chemistry” — does that make the beliefs and attitudes of individuals a kind of “physics”? It is, at least, a fascinating avenue of inquiry. In particular, the field of statistical mechanics offers potent tools for understanding how exactly people form their views and change their minds. From this perspective, everyone is a dynamic network of opinions and values, in a tense and ever-changing balance both with others and ourselves. The “chemistry” of social life, then, arises from multilevel interactions in our noisy minds and how they influence each other.

Welcome to Complexity, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this conversation, we speak with SFI Postdoc Jonas Dalege about how his research uses physics models to understand the emergence of higher-level behaviors from lower-level behaviors, both within and between people. We discuss the role of entropy in the formation of individual beliefs; statistical approaches to the study of ambivalence and cognitive dissonance; the wisdom (and challenge) of tolerating ambiguity; and the social consequences when we try to minimize internal conflict…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

 

Key Links:

Jonas’s Website | Google Scholar Page
 

Related Papers, Talks, and Complexity Podcast Episodes:

[Video] Explosive Proofs of Mathematical Truths by Simon DeDeo

Falling through the cracks: Modeling the formation of social category boundaries by Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Tamara van der Does, and Henrik Olsson

Conflicts of interest improve collective computation of adaptive social structures by Eleanor Brush, David Krakauer, and Jessica Flack

Integrating social and cognitive aspects of belief dynamics: Towards a unifying framework by Mirta Galesic, Henrik Olsson, Jonas Dalege, Tamara van der Does, Daniel L. Stein

Coarse-graining as a downward causation mechanism by Jessica Flack

9 - Mirta Galesic on Social Learning & Decision-making

29 - On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 3)

33 - The Future of the Human Climate Niche with Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer

42 - Carl Bergstrom & Jevin West on Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World

43 - Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities

55 - James Evans on Social Computing and Diversity by Design

Apr 08, 2021
J. Doyne Farmer on The Complexity Economics Revolution
01:04:00

Once upon a time at UC Santa Cruz, a group of renegade grad students started mixing physics with math and computers, determined to discover underlying patterns in the seeming-randomness of systems like the weather and roulette. Their research led to major insights in the emerging field of chaos theory, and eventually to the new discipline of complexity economics — which brings models from ecology and physics, cognitive science and biology together to improve our understanding of how value flows through networks, how people make decisions, and how new technologies evolve. As the human world weaves new global economic systems and sustainability looms ever-larger in importance, it is finally time to heed the warnings — and the promises — of this new paradigm of economics.

Welcome to Complexity, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week on Complexity, we speak with SFI External Professor J. Doyne Farmer at INET Oxford, to tour his fifty years of pioneering work and current book-in-progress, The Complexity Economics Revolution. Topics include how ecology inspires novel forms of macroeconomics; how “bounded rationality” changes the narrative about rational self-interested economic actors; how leverage leads to greater instability; how new tools can help us predict emerging innovations and engineer a better banking system; the skewed incentives of science funding and venture capital; his take on cryptocurrencies; and more…

If you value our research and communication efforts, please rate and review us at Apple Podcasts, and/or consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Key Links:

Doyne Farmer’s Personal Website | SFI Page | INET Oxford Page | Google Scholar Page

Doyne Farmer and related talks on our YouTube channel

Complexity Economics from SFI Press

Related Complexity Podcast Episodes:

W. Brian Arthur on The History & Future of Complexity Economics

[Farmer’s PhD student] R. Maria del-Rio Chanona on Modeling Labor Markets
Matthew Jackson on The Science of Social Networks

Geoffrey West on Scaling and Superlinear Innovation
David Krakauer on Collapse & High-Beta Investment Strategies

Mar 26, 2021
James Evans on Social Computing and Diversity by Design
01:00:11

In the 21st Century, science is a team sport played by humans and computers, both. Social science in particular is in the midst of a transition from the qualitative study of small groups of people to the quantitative and computer-aided study of enormous data sets created by the interactions of machines and people. In this new ecology, wanting AI to act human makes no sense, but growing “alien” intelligences offers useful difference — and human beings find ourselves empowered to identify new questions no one thought to ask. We can direct our scientific inquiry into the blind spots that our algorithms find for us, and optimize for teams diverse enough to answer them. The cost is the conceit that complex systems can be fully understood and thus controlled — and this demands we move into a paradigm of care for both the artificial Others we create and human Others we engage as partners in discovery. This is the dawn of Social Computing: an age of daunting risks and dazzling rewards that promises to challenge what we think we know about what can be known, and how…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode, I speak with SFI External Professor James Evans, Director of the University of Chicago’s Knowledge Lab, about his new work in, and journal of, social computing — how AI transforms the practice of scientific study and the study of scientific practice; what his research reveals about the importance of diversity in team-building and innovation; and what it means to accept our place beside machines in the pursuit of not just novel scientific insight, but true wisdom.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
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Key Links:

• James Evans at The University of Chicago

• Knowledge Lab

• Google Scholar

• “Social Computing Unhinged” in The Journal of Social Computing


Other Mentioned Learning Resources:

• Melanie Mitchell, “The Collapse of Artificial Intelligence”

• Alison Gopnik’s SFI Community Lecture, “The Minds of Children”

• Hans Moravec, Mind Children

• Ted Chiang, “The Life Cycle of Software Objects”

• Re: Recent CalTech study on interdisciplinarity and The Golden Age of Science

• Yuval Harari, “The New Religions of the 21st Century”

• Melanie Mitchell & Jessica Flack, “Complex Systems Science Allows Us To See New Paths Forward” at Aeon

• Complexity Episode 9 - Mirta Galesic (on Social Science)

• Compexity Episode 20 - Albert Kao (on Collective Behavior)

• Complexity Episode 21 - Melanie Mitchell (on Artificial Intelligence)

Mar 12, 2021
David Stork on AI Art History
01:00:23

Art history is a lot like archaeology — we here in the present day get artifacts and records, but the gaps between them are enormous, and the questions that they beg loom large. Historians need to be able to investigate and interpret, to unpack the meanings and the methods of a given work of art — but even for the best, the act of reconstruction is a trying test. Can we program computers to decipher the backstory of a painting — analyzing light and shadow to guess at how a piece was made? And, even more ambitiously, can AI learn to see and tell the stories rendered in an image’s symbolic content? Recent innovations yield surprising insights and suggest a cyborg future for art scholarship, in which we teach machines to not just recognize a set of objects, but to grok their context and relationships — shining light on messages and narratives once lost to time, and deepening our study of the world of signs.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we speak with David Stork, who has held full-time and visiting faculty positions in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Statistics, Neuroscience, Psychology, and Art and Art History variously at Wellesley and Swarthmore Colleges and ClarkBoston, and Stanford Universities…as well as holding corporate positions as Chief Scientist at Ricoh Innovations and Fellow at Rambus, Inc. We talk about the what happens when computers look at art — and the implications for  art history and connoisseurship.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Go deeper with these additional resources:

David’s bio at International Academy, Research, and Industry Association

David’s Google Scholar Page

David’s SFI Seminar

David’s talk at The Frick Collection, “Rigorous Technical Image Analysis of Fine Art: Toward a Computer Connoisseurship”

Feb 26, 2021
Alien Crash Site Invades Complexity: Tamara van der Does on Sci-Fi Science, with Guest Co-host Caitlin McShea
00:50:08

The consequence of living in a complex world: one tiny tweak can lead to massive transformation. Set the stage a slightly different way, and the entire play might unfold differently. This path-dependency shows up in both the science fiction premise and the hypothesis of scientific research: What can we learn about the hidden order of our cosmos by adjusting just a single variable?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week, Complexity Podcast becomes its own experiment after an invasion by our sister podcast, InterPlanetary Festival’s Alien Crash Site. SFI Miller Omega Program Manager Caitlin McShea joins as guest co-host for a conversation with SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Tamara van der Does (who models belief change using techniques inspired by statistical physics) for a three-headed conversation totally befitting the subject matter: a work of speculative “sci-fi science” produced by SFI’s postdoctoral researchers during a 72-hour lock-in complex systems charette. Their question: how might an extraterrestrial civilization much like our own work if their biology required three-parent families? We discuss the interplay between individual and society, the role of counterfactuals and speculation in both scientific research and sci-fi, and what technology she’d hope to find left in the wake of an alien visitation.

Tune in two weeks from now for a return to our regularly scheduled programming...

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Go deeper with these additional resources:

• Tamara’s Website, Google Scholar Page & Twitter
• InterPlanetary Festival Website
• Alien Crash Site Podcast

In 72 hours of sci-fi, postdocs transmit parental model of alien civilization [video]
• Greetings from a Triparental Planet 72 Hours of Science Pre-Printby Gizem Bacaksizlar, Stefani Crabtree, Joshua Garland, Natalie Grefenstette, Albert Kao, David Kinney, Artemy Kolchinsky, Tyler Marghetis, Michael Price, Maria Riolo, Hajime Shimao, Ashley Teufel, Tamara van der Does, and Vicky Chuqiao Yang
• Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolution by Jaeweon Shin, Michael Holton Price, David H. Wolpert, Hajime Shimao, Brendan Tracey, and Timothy A. Kohler
• SFI’s VP for Science Jennifer Dunne Remembers Ecologist Bob May

• Complexity 43: Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on social science
• Complexity 24: Laurent Hébert Dufresne on network epidemiology
• Complexity 19: David Kinney on the philosophy of science

• IPFest 2019 Worldbuilding Panel with Rebecca Roanhorse, Ty Franck, Daniel Abraham, Michael Drout, and Cris Moore
• David Stout on Alien Crash Site Podcast
• Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky Brothers
• Stalker (film adaptation of Roadside Picnic) by Andrei Tarkovsky
• Anathem by former SFI Miller Scholar Neal Stephenson
• Dark Integers by Greg Egan
Aliens comic series by Dark Horse
• UFO sculpture in cover image by R.T. Davis

Feb 12, 2021
Mark Moffett on Canopy Biology & The Human Swarm
01:12:05

Most maps of the world render landscapes in 2D — yet wherever we observe ecosystems, they stratify into a third dimension. The same geometries that describe the dizzying diversity of species in the canopies of forests also govern life in other  living systems, from the oceans to the linings of our mouths. Behind the many forms, a hidden order shapes how organisms live in and on each other — and this emerging discipline of “canopy biology”  may yield important insights into modern urban life. Human societies, like gigantic swarms of ants, are elaborately coordinated super-organisms. In these enormous in-groups, one key feature is the anonymity of members. By studying a treetop world where organisms never see the ground that humans take for granted, structural ecologists glean lessons for the denizens of concrete jungles.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s guest, Mark Moffett, did his doctoral work at Harvard under E.O. Wilson, helped fund decades of research with wildlife photography for National Geographic, and currently holds research positions at Harvard’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and as an entomologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. He has resisted conventional professorship in order to climb trees in over 40 countries and write four books on ecology and evolution. In this episode, we talk about the vertical dimension that theoretical ecology has largely overlooked, and the fruits of his investigation into the nature of societies — both ant and human.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

More on and by Mark Moffett:

Mark’s Website & Google Scholar Page

Mark’s SFI Virtual Seminar on Canopy Biology & SFI’s Twitter Thread

Ant colonies: building complex organizations with minuscule brains and no leaders

Comparative Canopy Biology and the Structure of Ecosystems

“What’s 'up?’ A critical look at the basic terms of canopy biology” 

Supercolonies of billions in an invasive ant: What is a society?

Supercolonies, nests, and societies: distinguishing the forests from the trees

Human Identity and the Evolution of Societies

Why a Universal Society Is Unattainable

Divided We Stand: Patriotism vs. Nationalism

More related reading:

Marcus Hamilton, Robert Walker, Chris Kempes - Diversity begets diversity in mammal species and human cultures

Rodney Brooks & Anita M. Flynn - Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

Related episodes of Complexity Podcast:

10 - Melanie Moses re: ant colony scaling and 3D chip architecture

17 - Chris Kempes re: stromatolites and scaling ribosomal and genetic volumes inside cells leading to multicellularity

39 - Eddie Lee re: fractal violence

43 - Vicky Yang re: out-group formation

20 - Albert Kao re: stalemates in collective computation

35 - Geoffrey West re: overlay of social networks in geographic space vs. cyberspace

Jan 29, 2021
Cris Moore on Algorithmic Justice & The Physics of Inference
01:11:40

It’s tempting to believe that people can outsource decisions to machines — that algorithms are objective, and it’s easier and fairer to dump the burden on them. But convenience conceals the complicated truth: when lives are made or broken by AI, we need transparency about the way we ask computers questions, and we need to understand what kinds of problems they’re not suited for. Sometimes we may be using the wrong models, and sometimes even great models fail when fed sparse or noisy data. Applying physics insights to the practical concerns of what an algorithm can and cannot do, scientists find points at which questions suddenly become unanswerable. Even with access to great data, not everything’s an optimization problem: there may be more than one right answer. Ultimately, it is crucial that we understand the limits of the technology we leverage to help us navigate our complex world — and the values that (often invisibly) determine how we use it.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

We kick off 2021 with SFI Resident Professor Cristopher Moore, who has written over 150 papers at the boundary between physics and computer science, to talk about his work in the physics of inference and with The Algorithmic Justice Project.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Related Reading:

Cris Moore’s Google Scholar Page

The Algorithmic Justice Project

“The Computer Science and Physics of Community Detection: Landscapes, Phase Transitions, and Hardness"

The Ethical Algorithm by SFI External Professor Michael Kearns

“Prevalence-induced concept change in human judgment” co-authored by SFI External Professor Thalia Wheatley

“The Uncertainty Principle” with SFI Miller Scholar John Kaag

SFI External Professor Andreas Wagner on play as a form of noise generation that can knock an inference algorithm off false endpoints/local optima

Related Videos:

Cris Moore’s ICTS Turing Talks on “Complexities, phase transitions, and inference”

Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency:  Lessons from predictive models in criminal justice

Reckoning and Judgment  The Promise of AI

Easy, Hard, and Impossible Problems: The Limits of Computation. Ulam Memorial Lecture #1.

Data, Algorithms, Justice, and Fairness. Ulam Memorial Lecture #2.

Related Podcasts:

Fighting Hate Speech with AI & Social Science (with Joshua Garland, Mirta Galesic, and Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi)

Better Scientific Modeling for Ecological & Social Justice with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 7)

Embracing Complexity for Systemic Interventions with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 5)

Rajiv Sethi on Stereotypes, Crime, and The Pursuit of Justice

Jan 15, 2021
Science in The Time of COVID: Michael Lachmann & Sam Scarpino on Lessons from The Pandemic
00:59:14

COVID-19 hasn’t just disrupted the “normal” of everyone’s social practices in what we take for granted as “daily life.” The pandemic has also, more granularly, changed the way scientists research and publish; it has changed the way science interfaces with institutions as varied as local governments and cell phone companies; it has changed the way we host and produce this podcast. This episode, for instance, with SFI External Professor Sam Scarpino and Resident Professor Michael Lachmann was recorded live over a year-end Donor Appreciation Zoom call, for those who both contributed to SFI in 2020 and could handle yet one more group video chat. In it, we discuss their lessons from the “front lines” of network epidemiology this year: what has surprised them, what has stayed with them, and what they expect it all to mean in the years to come…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

Tis the season, so if you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Avid readers take note that the SFI Press’ latest, Complexity Economics, is now available as a free ebook with donation at sfipress.org. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage — and undergrads, you still have until January 11th to submit for our 2021 Undergraduate Complexity Research program at santafe.edu/ucr. Thank you for listening!

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

More Resources:

Michael Lachmann’s Google Scholar Page

Sam Scarpino’s Google Scholar Page

The University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium Public Dashboard

Crowding and the shape of COVID-19 epidemics

SFI’s Twitter thread re: auto-correlation in networks on the cusp of a breakdown or breakthrough

Asymptomatic transmission and the resurgence of Bordetella pertussis

Sam Scarpino on Complexity Podcast Episode 25

Harvard’s Michael Mina (hosted by Michael Lachmann) at SFI speaking on rapid testing for COVID-19

“How Data Became One of the Most Powerful Tools to Fight an Epidemic” by Steven Johnson for The NY Times

RT.Live

“If Cancer Were Easy, Every Cell Would Do It” (SFI Press Release on Lachmann’s cancer research)

Dec 23, 2020
Artemy Kolchinsky on "Semantic Information" & The Physics of Meaning
01:01:51

Matter, energy, and information: the holy trinity of physics. Understanding the relations between these measures of our world are one of the big questions of complex systems science.

The laws of thermodynamics tell us that entropy (loosely but somewhat inaccurately speaking, “disorder”) increases in any closed material system. But at the same time living systems constantly pump out entropy, thereby keeping themselves alive by harnessing flows of energy and information. We know that physical systems gain or lose energy as heat — what is the difference between exchanging heat and exchanging signals with information relevant to a system’s survival?

In other words, when is information meaningful? When do goals and meaning come into play, and how do a system’s constraints and embodiment figure in? Understanding how to formalize the interactions of our jostling cosmos and reveal the engine of emergent order is the quest of all quests…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every two weeks we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we speak with SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Artemy Kolchinsky, who studies how information is organized and processed in biological, neural, and physical systems. In recent publications with SFI Professor David Wolpert, Artemy explores fundamental constraints on the energy required to process information, and seeks to define “semantic information,” or information bearing meaningful content. Our conversation takes us on a winding path into a thick, dark wood in which meet trails cut by cybernetics, cognitive science, statistical physics, and astrobiology…

Tis the season, so if you value our research and communication efforts, please please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage.

Avid readers take note that SFI Press’ latest volume, Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats.

Thank you for listening!

Follow Artemy on Twitter and read the papers we discuss (and many more) on his website.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Dec 11, 2020
Peter Dodds on Text-Based Timeline Analysis & New Instruments for The Science of Stories
01:30:23

"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
– Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

When human beings saw the first pictures of the Earth from space, the impact was transformative. New instruments for taking in new vistas, for understanding our relationships and contexts at a different scale, have in some ways defined the history of not just science but the evolution of intelligence. And now, thanks to the surfeit of textual data offered up by social media, researchers can peer into the dynamics of human society and analyze the turbulent flows of stories that drive our collective behavior and twist time itself into nonlinear structures. As a species, we are on the cusp of a new epoch in which the body politic reveals itself to us in real-time like a single human body in an MRI. How will these tools change how we think about the world and what it means to be a person in it?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we speak with Peter Dodds of the University of Vermont’s Complex Systems Center and Computational Story Lab about how to use Twitter data as a kind of satellite telescope observing the collective mentation of humankind — what it reveals, and what it doesn’t, opening a cornucopia of questions about how we measure sentiment and the power of narrative for social control.

Tis the season, so if you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage.

Avid readers take note that SFI Press’ latest volume, Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats.

Thank you for listening!

Follow Peter Dodds at Twitter and read the papers we discuss (and many more) at Google Scholar.

And then go play with Hedonometer & Story Wrangler.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Nov 26, 2020
Scott Ortman on Archaeological Synthesis and Settlement Scaling Theory
00:54:54

The modern world has a way of distancing itself from everything that came before it…and yet the evidence from archaeology supports a different story. While industrial societies tend to praise markets and advanced technologies as the main drivers of the last few centuries of change, a careful study of civilizations as distinct as Ancient Rome, Peru, and Central Mexico reveals an underlying uniformity. Consistent patterns have played out in human settlements across millennia and continents, regardless of the economic systems we’ve employed or the inventions on which we’ve relied. These patterns, furthermore, look just like those that govern and delimit evolutionary change; the scaling laws determining the growth of cities are, apparently, the same that led to cities in the first place, or to human social groups, or complex animals. Human settlements act as social reactors, by facilitating interactions — in other words, the functional relationships within communities drive history, and this century has more in common with the distant past than commonly believed.

These revelations, though, might have remained invisible to us if archaeology itself had not transformed over the last few decades, evolving new approaches to cross-disciplinary synthesis. It’s time to update both our notions of the ancient world and our popular conception of the archaeologist…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to Former SFI Omidyar Fellow Scott Ortman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at The University of Colorado Boulder, about his work on settlement scaling theory and fostering synthesis in archaeology to advance science and benefit society.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Check out Scott’s CU Boulder Website and Google Scholar Page for more information and links to the research papers and opinion pieces we discuss in this episode.

For more on universal scaling laws and the science of cities, revisit these earlier episodes of COMPLEXITY:

4 — Luis Bettencourt

10 — Melanie Moses

17 — Chris Kempes

33 — Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer

35 — Geoffrey West

36 — Geoffrey West

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn

Nov 11, 2020
Helena Miton on Cultural Evolution in Music and Writing Systems
01:01:44

Organisms aren’t the only products of the evolutionary process. Cultural products such as writing, art, and music also undergo change over time, subject to both the constraints of the physical environment and the psychologies of those who make them. In recent years, the study of cultural evolution has exploded with new insights — revelations into the dynamics of how culture is transmitted, how it mutates under different pressures, and why some forms are remarkably resilient and stable across time and space. Just as in biology, patterns in the structures of our artifacts converge on universals and diverge to meet the needs of their distinct environments. Certain forces ratchet up complexity in culture, whereas others act like gravity and draw the works of different societies into shared basins of attraction. Finding the fundamentals behind both the unity and the diversity of cultures, and what cultural evolution does and doesn’t have in common with biological evolution, is a field of rich mystery. New research into structural and cognitive constraints on culture leads us into some of the most fertile questions known to science…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we speak to SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow, Omidyar Fellow, AND ASU-SFI Center Fellow Helena Miton about her work on cultural evolution — namely, her recent Royal Society Proceedings B paper on "How material constraints affect the cultural evolution of rhythm" with Thomas Wolf, Cordula Vesper, Günther Knoblich, and Dan Sperber and the Current Anthropology pre-print she co-authored on "The predictable evolution of letter shapes: An emergent script of West Africa recapitulates historical change in writing systems" with Piers Kelly, James Winters, and Olivier Morin.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Check out Helena’s SFI Page, Google Scholar Page, and Twitter Account.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
TwitterYouTubeFacebookInstagramLinkedIn

If you liked this episode, you may also like Helena's appearance on the Here We Are Podcast with Shane Mauss.

Oct 29, 2020
David Wolpert on The No Free Lunch Theorems and Why They Undermine The Scientific Method
00:52:13

On the one hand, we have math: a world of forms and patterns, a priori logic, timeless and consistent. On the other, we have physics: messy and embodied interactions, context-dependent and contingent on a changing world. And yet, many people get the two confused, including physicists and mathematicians. Where the two meet, and the nature of the boundary between them, is a matter of debate — one of the greatest puzzles known to science and philosophy — but some things can be said for sure about what can and cannot be accomplished in the search for ever-better models of our world. One is that every model must contain assumptions, and that there’s no way to prove a given strategy will outperform all others in all possible scenarios. This insight, captured in the legendary No Free Lunch theorems by SFI’s David Wolpert and William Macready, has enormous implications for the way think about intelligence, computers, and the living world.  In the twenty-plus years since its publication, No Free Lunch has sparked intense debate about the kinds of claims we are, and are not, justified in making…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe. This week we speak with SFI Professor David Wolpert about the No Free Lunch Theorems and what they mean for life, the universe, and everything…

 

Dive into David Wolpert’s website:

https://davidwolpert.weebly.com/

and Google Scholar page:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=PRjgI8kAAAAJ&hl=en

 

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

 

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.
 

Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.
 

Follow us on social media: TwitterYouTubeFacebookInstagramLinkedIn

Oct 14, 2020
Introducing Alien Crash Site, a new SFI Podcast with host Caitlin McShea
00:20:32

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we present something different: SFI’s InterPlanetary Project is excited to announce a new podcast, Alien Crash Site, in which we ask some of the most interesting people we know — scientists, artists, authors, and athletes — what strange technologies they might hope to find in a “Zone” like the alien visitation area from the Strugatsky brothers’ novel, Roadside Picnic (adapted to film as Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky). 

In this special teaser episode, we present clips from the first three episodes of Alien Crash Site, hosted by IPFest Director Caitlin McShea, with guests:

David Krakauer, SFI President, evolutionary biologist, and William H. Miller Professor of Complexity;

Kate Greene, former laser physicist turned science journalist, essayist, and human guinea pig on the HI SEAS Mars mission simulation;

and Ashton Eaton, two-time Olympic gold medalist decathlete now working with Intel to design human performance tracking technology.

Go deeper into the Zone after listening with the following papers, articles, and videos:

“The physical limits of communication or Why any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise” by Michael Lachmann et al.
https://aapt.scitation.org/doi/10.1119/1.1773578

“The Information Theory of Individuality” by David Krakauer et al.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12064-020-00313-7

"Agnostic Approaches to Extant Life Detection" by Natalie Grefenstette et al.
https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lifeonmars2019/pdf/5026.pdf

Complexity Episode 41: Agnostic Biosignature Detection with Natalie Grefenstette
https://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/41

Complexity Episode 2: The Origins of Life with David Krakauer, Sarah Maurer, and Chris Kempes
https://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/2

SFI’s InterPlanetary Project & Festival YouTube Playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYzOPIgwqUk&list=PLZlVBTf7N6GrzcLkqil5vyJQQd6JA-H3a

“Alien Nations: Why Life on Other Planets Will Resemble Ours” by Steve LeVine at OneZero on Medium
https://onezero.medium.com/alien-nations-why-life-on-other-planets-will-resemble-ours-15fb4ede6fe7

For show notes, research links, transcripts, and more, visit complexity.simplecast.com.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

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Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano

Interstitial music from “Martian Arts” by Michael Garfield.

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Oct 09, 2020
Vicky Yang & Henrik Olsson on Political Polling & Polarization: How We Make Decisions & Identities
01:10:09

Whether you live in the USA or have just been watching the circus from afar, chances are that you agree: “polarization” dominates descriptions of the social landscape. Judging from the news alone, one might think the States have never been so painfully divided…yet nuanced public polls, and new behavioral models, suggest another narrative: the United States is largely moderate, and people have much more in common with each other than they think. There’s no denying our predicament: cognitive biases lead us to “out-group” one another even when we might be allies, and the game of politics drives a two-party system into ever-more-intense division, until something has to give. But the same evidence from social science offers hope, that we might find a way to harness our collective thinking processes for the sake of everyone and row together toward a future big enough to hold our disagreements.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode we talk to SFI External Professor Henrik Olsson and SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow, Omidyar Fellow, and Baird Hurst Scholar Vicky C. Yang about their work on social cognition and political identity. In a conversation that couldn’t be more timely, we ask: How can we leverage an understanding of networks for better political polling and prediction? What are the meaningful differences between one’s values and one’s affiliations? And is the American two-party system working for or against a cohesive republic?

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Henrik’s Google Scholar Page

Vicky’s Google Scholar Page

Research we discuss in this episode:

Falling Through the Cracks: A Dynamical Model for the Formation of In-Groups and Out-Groups

A Sampling Model of Social Judgment

Harvesting the wisdom of crowds for election predictions using the Bayesian Truth Serum

Why are U.S. Parties So Polarized? A "Satisficing" Dynamical Model

Do two parties represent the US? Clustering analysis of US public ideology survey

Project Page for the SFI-USC Dornslife Polling Research Collaboration

For more on social cognition and collective decision-making, listen to COMPLEXITY episodes 9 with Mirta Galesic and 20 with Albert Kao.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano

Sep 30, 2020
Carl Bergstrom & Jevin West on Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World
00:58:44

Now, maybe more than ever before, it is time to learn the art of skepticism.  Amidst compounded complex crises, humankind must also navigate a swelling tidal wave of outright lies, clever misdirections, and well-meant but dangerous mistaken claims….in other words, bullshit. Why is the 21st Century such a hotbed of fake news? How can we structure our networks and their incentives to mitigate disinformation and encourage speaking truth to power? And whose responsibility is it to inform the public and other experts about scientific research, when those insights require training to understand?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and in each episode we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week, we talk to Former SFI External Professor Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West, both at the University of Washington, who recently translated their landmark undergraduate course on Calling Bullshit into an eminently readable and illuminating book from Penguin Random House. In this episode, we discuss their backgrounds and ongoing work in the evolutionary dynamics and information theory of communication, how to stage a strong defense against disinformation, and the role of scientists and laypeople alike to help restore the reasoned discourse we all so desperately need.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/give, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

 

Related Links & Resources:

CallingBullshit.org

Carl Bergstrom’s Website & Twitter.

Jevin West’s Website & Twitter.

Cost and conflict in animal signals and human language
by Michael Lachmann, Szabolcs Számadó, and Carl T. Bergstrom at PNAS

The physical limits of communication or Why any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise
by Michael Lachmann, M.E.J. Newman, Cris Moore in The American Journal of Physics

Deepfakes and the Epistemic Backstop
by Regina Rini at Philosopher’s Imprint

Hunger Game: Is Honesty Between Animals Always the Best Policy?
by Natalie Wolchover at Scientific American

Public Editor by Goodly Labs

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Sep 16, 2020
Natalie Grefenstette on Agnostic Biosignature Detection
00:56:52

Is there life on Mars? Or Titan? What are we even looking for? Without a formal definition, inquiries into the stars just echo noise. But then, perhaps, the noise contains a signal… To find life elsewhere in the universe requires us to wager a defined biology, to come to terms with what it means to be alive. Looking out is looking in, to ask the hardest question ever: How do we find something we might not recognize as what we’re seeking?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Natalie Grefenstette, who works with SFI Professor Chris Kempes (whom we spoke to on Episode 17) on the multi-institution, NASA-funded Agnostic Biosignatures Project. Over the next hour we discuss how new approaches to astrobiological research may help science finally define the nature of living systems, and where and how to find them in the cosmos.

For show notes, research links, transcripts, and more, visit complexity.simplecast.com.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/give, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!


Natalie’s website:
https://nataliegref.weebly.com/


Natalie’s Google Scholar page:
https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=fbHyA3IAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate

"Adaptive properties of the genetically encoded amino acid alphabet are inherited from its subsets"
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-47574-x.pdf

"Agnostic Approaches to Extant Life Detection"
https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lifeonmars2019/pdf/5026.pdf

"Agnostic Polymer Detection Using Mass Spectrometry for Astrobiological Samples"
https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2020/pdf/2706.pdf

"Mars Extant Life: What's Next? Conference Report"
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ast.2020.2237

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Sep 02, 2020
The Information Theory of Biology & Origins of Life with Sara Imari Walker (Big Biology Podcast Crossover)
01:06:51

One of the defining characteristics of complex systems science is the shift in emphasis from objects to relationships and processes. How is information related to matter and energy, and how do the distinct formulations of different scientific lineages braid together in a unifying pattern? This search for a more fundamental understanding drives directly into some of the biggest questions science has to ask about the living world — namely, what is life, what is alive, and when did life begin? The Santa Fe Institute has drawn from the deep wells of these questions since the 1980s. In our second episode, Complexity Podcast dove in to explore the origins of life, but even that in-depth conversation left a lot unsaid.

Welcome to Complexity, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield. While we continue our short summer hiatus, here’s a superb interview with the Santa Fe Institute’s newly announced External Professor, Sara Imari Walker of Arizona State University, by Marty Martin and Art Woods, the hosts of the Big Biology Podcast. In this rapid-fire rap from their ninth episode, Sara talks about how physics — and in particular information theory — refocuses the lens through which researchers ask about the nature of living systems and look for signs of life elsewhere in the cosmos. We hope that you enjoy and — after subscribing to Complexity and Big Biology wherever you go for podcasts — follow up with their equally illuminating conversation with SFI External Professor Andy Dobson on disease ecology.

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Sara Walker’s Website

Sara Walker's Google Scholar Page

Complexity Podcast Episode 2 on The Origins of Life at InterPlanetary Festival

Big Biology Podcast Website

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Aug 12, 2020
Fractal Conflicts & Swing Voters with Eddie Lee
01:02:35

Since the 1940s, scientists have puzzled over a curious finding: armed conflict data reveals that human battles obey a power-law distribution, like avalanches and epidemics.  Just like the fractal surfaces of mountains and cauliflowers, the shape of violence looks the same at any level of magnification. Beyond the particulars of why we fight, this pattern suggests a deep hidden order in the physical laws governing society.  And, digging into new analyses of data from both armed conflicts and voting patterns, complex systems researchers have started to identify the so-called “pivotal components” — the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the spark that sets a forest fire, the influential (but not always famous) figures that shape history.  Can science find a universal theory that predicts the size of conflicts from their initial conditions, or identifies key players whose “knobs” turn society in one direction or another?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s guest is SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Eddie Lee, whose work into “conflict avalanches” and swing voters gives a glimpse of the mysterious forces that determine why we fight — and how we may be able to prevent the next conflagration. In this episode, we talk about armed conflict as a fractal and a form of computation, swing voters in the justice system and influencers in pop culture, and what these studies have to say about the deep constraints that guide the currents of society.

Just a note that this will be our last episode before a short summer break, to give our scientists uninterrupted time to work on a torrent of new research. We have some exciting episodes scheduled for our return in mid-August…in the meantime, please be sure to subscribe to Complexity Podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you stay in the know! And if you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or join our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action.

Lastly, we are excited to announce that submissions are open for this fall’s inaugural Complexity Interactive, a three-week online, project-based immersive course where you get a rare opportunity for mentorship by a large faculty of SFI professors — including Cris Moore, Melanie Mitchell, Simon DeDeo, Danielle Bassett, Luis Bettencourt, Melanie Moses, Ricard Solé, and many more. For more info and to apply, please visit https://santafe.edu/sfi-ci

Thank you for listening!

Eddie Lee’s SFI Webpage & Google Scholar Page

Papers we discuss in this episode:

A scaling theory of armed conflict avalanches

Sensitivity of collective outcomes identifies pivotal components

Emergent regularities and scaling in armed conflict data

Collective memory in primate conflict implied by temporal scaling collapse

Go further:

Time Scales & Tradeoffs, an SFI Flash Workshop [video]

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Transcript coming soon!  Thanks for your patience...

Jul 23, 2020
Fighting Hate Speech with AI & Social Science (with Joshua Garland, Mirta Galesic, and Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi)
01:05:48

The magnitude of interlocking “wicked problems” we humans face today is daunting…and made all the worse by the widening schisms in our public discourse, the growing prominence of hate speech and prejudicial violence. How can we collaborate at scale if it’s not even safe to act as citizens, to participate in a sufficiently diverse society, without becoming targets? The World Wide Web has made it easier than ever for hate groups to organize…but also grants new power to those willing to oppose the hateful. New tactics such as “counter speech” have sprung up to depolarize society. But do they work? Can organized nonviolent interventions restore civility and save our public spaces? Or does the ensuing arms race only bring our fora closer to collapse?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode features three authors of new research on hate speech and counter speech — SFI Applied Complexity Fellow Joshua Garland, Professor Mirta Galesic, and External Professor Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi — who, along with co-authors Laurent Hébert Dufresne and Jean-Gabriel Young, have discovered patterns in the Twitter data that just might help save the Web. Over the next hour, we’ll discuss how they use AI to classify hate speech and counter speech, what this reveals about the hidden structure of our conversations, and how it offers hope for social media just when we need it most…

To learn more about SFI's work on counter speech, and the new CounterBalance seminar series, please visit santafe.edu/counter.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, we hope you’ll help this show find new listeners by rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

This Week’s Guests:

Joshua Garland

Mirta Galesic (who also appeared on this show for Episode 9)

Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi

Papers we discuss in this episode:

Countering hate on social media: Large scale classification of hate and counter speech

• As-yet-untitled follow-up paper TBA  (we will add this link as soon as it's available)

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jul 15, 2020
The Art & Science of Resilience in the Wake of Trauma with Laurence Gonzales
00:59:23

Each of us at some point in our lives will face traumatizing hardship — abuse or injury, lack or loss. And all of us must weather the planetwide effects of this pandemic, economic instability, systemic inequality, and social unrest…and find a way to live on with their consequences. Trauma isn’t evenly distributed. But it IS ubiquitous, and learning how to get on with our lives is one of our main tasks as human beings. 

From this hardship grows the best of us: our wisdom, compassion, creativity, and service. By understanding the psychology and neuroscience of the body-mind’s response to trauma, we gain potent insight into how to “live with living without” — how to be both incomplete and whole. 

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s guest is best-selling author and journalist Laurence Gonzales, a four-time SFI Miller Scholar whose writing has won widespread recognition, including the Montaigne Medal, two National Magazine Awards, two Eric Hoffer Awards, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. In this episode we talk about his book, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience — and the lessons therein for those living in the wake of trauma.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

For more, visit Laurence’s Website & Bibliography.

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jul 06, 2020
Geoffrey West on Scaling, Open-Ended Growth, and Accelerating Crisis/Innovation Cycles: Transcendence or Collapse? (Part 2)
00:58:18

Cities define the modern world. They characterize the human era and its impacts on our planet. By bringing us together, these "social reactors" amplify the best in us: our creativity, efficiency, wealth, and communal ethos. But they also amplify our worst: the incidence of social crimes, the span of inequality, our vulnerability to epidemics. And built into the physics of the city is an accelerating cycle of crisis and innovation that now drives our global economy and ecosystems closer to the edge of existential peril. 

Many economists believe that open-ended growth and technological advances can save us from destruction, but the scaling laws that describe the evolution of the city seem to suggest the opposite: that we are on an ever-faster treadmill and can only jump to even faster treadmills, until our unchecked growth precipitates collapse. Are we on a super-exponential runway to abundance, or are we trapped in a kind of test of our ability to understand our constraints and steward our limited resources? 

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode is part two of a two-part conversation with Geoffrey West, a physicist, Distinguished Shannan Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute.

In part one we set the stage for a deep, difficult examination of our current complex crises by reviewing some key revelations from his book, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. In this week’s episode, we tackle the question of open-ended growth and whether complex systems science offers any insight into the design of a sustainable economy. 

Note that these episodes were taped before the murder of George Floyd, and now seem both strangely out-of-date and uncannily prophetic. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for conversations more directly touching on race, bias, inequality, polarization, counterspeech, and trauma, and follow us on social media for timely coverage of the science helping guide society toward fairer and saner outcomes.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Listening & Reading:

Geoffrey West’s Wikipedia & Google Scholar Pages

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

COMPLEXITY 04: Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities

COMPLEXITY 10: Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation

COMPLEXITY 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jun 25, 2020
Scaling Laws & Social Networks in The Time of COVID-19 with Geoffrey West (Part 1)
00:49:30

We’re living through a unique moment in history. The interlocking crises of a global pandemic, widespread unemployment, social unrest, and climate change, show us just how far human civilization has traveled along a path that leads to collapse. It is more crucial than ever to seek a deeper understanding of the systems that sustain us, and the thin layer of life on the surface of our planet. What are the underlying laws that govern how we live together and as individuals? How do our economies and cities grow? How are the human and non-human worlds related? And can we solve the problems we’ve created when we’re quarantined from one another?

By identifying the basic cardiovascular and nervous systems of human societies, we may one day be able to cure some of the complex diseases of civilization and found a new, sustainable mode of existence.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode is part one of a two-part conversation with Geoffrey West, a physicist,  Distinguished Shannan Professor, and former president of the Santa Fe Institute.

In it we set the stage for a deep, difficult examination of the existential threats we’re facing by reviewing some key revelations from his book, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. In next week’s episode, we tackle the question of open-ended growth and whether complex systems science offers any insight into the design of a sustainable economy. 

Note that these episodes were taped before the murder of George Floyd, and now seem both strangely out-of-date and uncannily prophetic. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for conversations more directly touching on race, bias, inequality, polarization, counterspeech, and trauma, and follow us on social media for timely coverage of the science helping guide society toward fairer and saner outcomes.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Listening & Reading:

Geoffrey West’s Wikipedia & Google Scholar Pages
Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West
COMPLEXITY 04: Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities
COMPLEXITY 10: Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation
COMPLEXITY 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jun 17, 2020
Better Scientific Modeling for Ecological & Social Justice with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 7)
00:40:03

Mathematical models of the world — be they in physics, economics, epidemiology — capture only details that researchers notice and deem salient. Rather than objective claims about reality, they encode (and thus enact) our blind spots. And the externalities created by those models — microscopic pathogens invisible to the naked eye, or differences in the social network structures of two neighborhoods, or food webs disrupted by urban development — have a way of biting back when we ignore them. Structural inequality created by an insufficient model jeopardizes not just the ones left off the map, but the entire systems in which they participate. Science fiction author Philip K. Dick put it well when we said that “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Ultimately, ecological and social justice is dependent on our rigorous empiricism and our dedication to describing all the relevant dimensions of our complex world.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode, Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer returns to talk about the latest essays in SFI Transmission series, to shed light on the crucial under-examined margins of our maps — and how good science both enables and demands us to do better.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Read the essays we discuss in this episode:

David Krakauer and Dan Rockmore on out-evolving COVID-19

Jon Machta on the noisy equilibrium of disease containment & economic pain

Brian Enquist on how pandemics rapidly reshape the evolutionary & ecological landscape

Melanie Moses and Kathy Powers on models that protect the vulnerable

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Mentioned in this episode:

Melanie Moses, Kathy Powers, Brian Enquist, Jon Machta, Dan Rockmore, David Krakauer, Michael Garfield, Edgar Allan Poe, Auguste Dupin, Dan Brown, Vera Rubin, Kent Ford, Fritz Zwicky, Robert Koch, Martinus Beijerinck, Charles Darwin, Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR, Cory Doctorow, Peter Singer, William Hamilton, Lauren Ancel Meyers, Caroline Buckee, David B. Kinney, Kurt Wiesenfeld, Chao Tang, Per Bak, Cris Moore, Sidney Redner, Manfred Laubichler, William Gibson, François de Liocourt, Andrey Kolmogorov, Geoffrey West, Andy Dobson, Jessica Flack, Steve Lansing, Nicolas Rashevsky, Darcy Wentworth Thompson, Mahzarin Banaji

Jun 08, 2020
The Future of the Human Climate Niche with Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer
00:56:35

Humans, like any other organism, occupy a niche — a “Goldilocks Zone” for which our biology is suited, relatively to the extreme diversity of habitats on Earth. But to understand the natural habitat of human beings we would first have to perform a comprehensive survey of human settlements throughout history and prehistory, looking for patterns in the climate data. No one did this research until very recently, and what they found surprised them. Human life, especially the outdoor work like farming on which our societies depend, is suited only to a very narrow band of temperature and moisture levels, a tiny area on Earth’s large surface. The implications are severe and ominous when held in light of climate forecasts for the coming decades: a major and unprecedented set of challenges that will test ability to innovate, adapt, and migrate as the world around us changes.

This week guest’s are SFI ecologist Marten Scheffer at Wageningen University and SFI archaeologist Tim Kohler at Washington State University. In this episode, we discuss the past and future human climate niche, how our ability to adapt to climate change is hampered by the psychology of sunk costs, and how a better understanding of social tipping points and collective information processing at the scale of civilization could help prevent the catastrophes ensured by business as usual.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Papers discussed in this episode:

Future of the human climate niche

Sunk cost effects and vulnerability to collapse in ancient societies

Social norms as solutions

Scale and information processing thresholds

Tim Kohler’s Website

Marten Scheffer’s Website

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jun 02, 2020
Exponentials, Economics, and Ecology with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 6)
00:47:28

If COVID-19 has made anything obvious to everyone, it might be how the very small can force the transformation of the very large. Disrupt the right place in a network and exponential changes ripple outward: a virus causes a disease that leads to economic shocks and other social impacts that, in turn, re-open urban spaces to nonhuman animals and change the course of evolution.

Adapting to these changes will require a different kind of understanding: one of nonlinear dynamics, feedback loops, extended selves, and the tiered and interwoven ecological and economic systems of our planet. By studying the processes and structures that this change exposes, we’re offered a new way of seeing individuality-in-context…and, perhaps, new mechanisms for aligning individual and public good, the human and the wild.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In Transmission, SFI’s new essay series on COVID-19, our community of scientists shares a myriad of complex systems insights on this unprecedented situation. This special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer finds the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

Chris Kempes and Geoffrey West on understanding cities to respond to pandemics

Eric Maskin on mechanism design for the market

Pamela Yeh and Ian MacGregor-Fors on studying wildlife in empty cities

Sidney Redner on exponential growth processes

David Wolpert on SARS-CoV-2 and Landauer's bound

What is an individual? Information Theory may provide an answer

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Mentioned in this episode:

David Wolpert, Alan Turing, Rolf Landauer, Timothy Morton, Buckminster Fuller, Sidney Redner, Chris Kempes, Geoffrey West, Bill Gates, Ann Pendleton-Jullian, Luis Bettencourt, Cris Moore, Eric Maskin, Wendy Carlin, Sam Bowles, Kenneth Arrow, John Von Neumann, Eric Morgenstern, John Nash, Pamela Yeh, Ian MacGregor-Fors, Alan Weisman, Doug Erwin

May 11, 2020
Embracing Complexity for Systemic Interventions with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 5)
00:44:55

It takes effort to embrace complexity. Simple models, simple narratives seem easier up front, their consequences only obvious in retrospect. When we talk about COVID-19 transmission rates, we’re using averages that do not offer crucial insights into how those rates may vary. When we target complex ailments with silver-bullet pharmaceuticals, we don’t address the underlying systems-level problems. Radical uncertainty resists attempts at easy answers, forcing changes in the pace at which we take shots in the dark. Sometimes, as with infection testing, we can’t seem to take shots fast enough.

But understanding systems helps identify good points of intervention, to find the keystone species for a conservation strategy or draw from history the most instructive lessons for today. Understanding human motivation can help us gamify the exercise we need to stave off frailty, and secondary illnesses. A small up-front investment in understanding our society as multi-scale and networked can prevent enormous economic costs.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In Transmission, SFI’s new essay series on COVID-19, our community of scientists shares a myriad of complex systems insights on this unprecedented situation. This special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer finds the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

John Krakauer and Michelle Carlson on COVID and Spiraling Frailty Syndrome

Stefani Crabtree on What History Can Teach Us About Resilience

Van Savage on The Informational Pitfalls of Selective Testing

David Tuckett, Lenny Smith, Gerd Gigerenzer, and Jürgen Jost on Making Good Decisions Under Uncertainty

Cristopher Moore on The Heavy Tail of Outbreaks

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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May 04, 2020
Rethinking Our Assumptions During the COVID-19 Crisis with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 4)
00:51:13

COVID-19 has delivered an extraordinary shock to our assumptions, be they in how we practice education, business, research, or governance. When we base forecasts on bad data, even solid logic gives us unreliable results. Centralized authority is good for organized coherent action but isn’t agile or fine-grained enough to deal with local variance and rapidly evolving novel challenges. Surveillance can save lives but also threatens privacy upon which a diverse society depends. A longer memory might cost more to maintain, but also save more by preventing even larger economic burdens down the road.

How we adapt to this pandemic will depend on where we find new balance points between established and efficient universal standards and agile, messy flexibility. In this episode, we build on the themes of earlier installments to study five new articles where rigorous uncertainty, complex time, and the creative opportunities of crisis intersect…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute, the world’s foremost complex systems science research center. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In Transmission, SFI’s new essay series on COVID-19, our community of scientists shares a myriad of complex systems insights on this unprecedented situation. This special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer finds the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

Support our research and communication efforts at santafe.edu/give.

If you find the information in this program useful, please consider leaving a review at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

Anthony Eagan on Federalism in a time of pandemic

Carrie Cowan on the future of education

Stephanie Forrest on privacy concerns that arise with a pandemic

Sidney Redner on quantitative ways to consider the economic impact of COVID-19

David Wolpert on statistical tools for making pandemic predictions

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Apr 27, 2020
On Coronavirus, Crisis, and Creative Opportunity with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 3)
00:44:11

Our histories constrain what opportunities we notice and can take in life. The genes you have define the shape your body can grow into, in concert with environmental influences. But the cards you’re dealt don’t tell you how to play your hand; for that, you have to know which game you’re playing.  Natural selection acts through the relationships between an organism and ecology, a business and economy.  What works in one environment may fail in others. The rub is that the rules are set by the collective action of all players, so the game keeps changing as the players change: disruptions shift the so-called “fitness landscape,” opening new possibilities, reallocating fortune.

Creation and destruction, then, are two sides of the same coin: The deeper a crisis, the bigger the opportunity.  Too much opportunity precipitates a crisis. A mass extinction or a market crash can be both the effect and cause of major innovations. In these punctuations, our strategies for navigating stable worlds don’t work. Amidst catastrophe, survival hinges on evolvability. What organisms, policies, and practices will rule the post-coronavirus world? To answer this, we need to ask two further questions:

“What will the new rules be?” and “Who is already suited for this brave new world, or flexible enough to turn and face the strange?”

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute, the world’s foremost complex systems science research center. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In Transmission, SFI’s new essay series on COVID-19, our community of scientists shares a myriad of complex systems insights on this unprecedented situation. This special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer finds the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

If you find the information in this program useful, please consider leaving a review at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

Bill Miller on Investment Strategies in Times of Crisis

Santiago Elena on a Complex Systems Perspective of Viruses

Manfred Laublichler on How Every Crisis is an Opportunity

Mirta Galesica & Henrik Olsson on Opportunities for Science Communicators

Doug Erwin on Not Letting A Good Crisis Go To Waste

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Apr 20, 2020
Caroline Buckee on Improving COVID-19 Surveillance & Response
00:45:05

For this special mini-series covering the COVID19 pandemic, we will bring you into conversation with the scientists studying the bigger picture of this crisis, so you can learn their cutting-edge approaches and what sense they make of our evolving global situation.

This week’s guest is Caroline Buckee, formerly an SFI Omidyar Fellow, one of MIT Tech Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35, and a CNN Top 10: Thinker — now Associate Director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard School of Public Health. In this episode, we discuss the myriad challenges involved in monitoring and preventing the spread of epidemics like COVID-19, from the ethical concerns of high-resolution mobility data to an academic research ecosystem ill-equipped for rapid response, and the uneven distribution of international science funding.

If you find the information in this program useful, please consider leaving a review at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

Caroline’s Website at Harvard and Twitter Page.

Find the papers we discuss in this episode at Caroline’s Google Scholar Page.

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Apr 17, 2020
COVID-19 & Complex Time in Biology & Economics with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 2)
00:42:21

In several key respects, COVID-19 reveals how crucial timing is for human life. The lens of complex systems science helps us understand the central role of time in coordinating across scales, and how synchrony or misalignment leads to major consequences—whether it’s in how the metabolic differences between bats and humans can create an opportunity for interspecies epidemics, or in how the timing of society’s return to work could either help reboot or help destroy the world economy. Network research shows us early warning signs of an impending social crisis, the fossils of a vast collective computation as we struggle to adapt to periods of rapid change…and even the analogies we use to talk about these times bely a nested and embodied structure in how we encode the details of reality. These are complex times, indeed—and how civilization mutates to adapt to this pandemic will have everything to do with our ability to think and act at multiple timescales, simultaneously.

In Transmission, SFI’s new essay series on COVID-19, our community of scientists shares a myriad of complex systems insights on this unprecedented situation. This special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer finds the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

You can support our research and communication efforts at santafe.edu/give.

If you find the information in this program useful, please consider leaving a review at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Reading:

005: Andrew Dobson on the Need for Disease Models which Capture Key Complexities of Transmission

006: Miguel Fuentes on Using Social Media Data to Detect Signatures of Global Crises

007 Danielle Allen, E. Glen Weyl, and Rajiv Sethi on How to Reduce COVID-19 Mortality While Easing Economic Decline

008: Michael Hochberg on the Importance of Timing in Restrictive Confinement

009: Melanie Mitchell on How the Analogies We Live by Shape our Thoughts

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Apr 13, 2020
Rigorous Uncertainty: Science During COVID-19 with David Krakauer (Transmission Series Ep. 1)
00:47:04

The coronavirus pandemic is in one sense a kind of prism: it reveals the many interlocking systems that, until disrupted, formed the mostly invisible backdrop of modern life, challenging the economy and our models of the world at the same time that it threatens individual and social health. The virus acts on, and invites new understanding through, the complexity we only take for granted at our peril. 

In SFI’s new essay series on the crisis, Transmission, our international community of scientists explores a spectrum of perspectives on COVID-19 to share a myriad of complex systems insights on our unprecedented situation. In this special supplementary mini-series with SFI President David Krakauer, we discuss and find the links between these articles—on everything from evolutionary theory to economics, epistemology to epidemiology—to trace the patterns of a deeper order that, until this year, was largely hidden in plain sight.

Read the Transmission series articles we discuss in this episode:

000: David Krakauer on Citizen-Based Medicine
001: David Kinney on Why Scientists Must Make Value Judgments in a Complex Crisis
002: Luu Hoang Duc and Jürgen Jost on Making the Most of Bad Data
003: John Harte on Reducing Conflicting Advice on Allowable Group Size
004: Simon DeDeo on Thinking out of Equilibrium

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Apr 06, 2020
Sam Scarpino on Modeling Disease Transmission & Interventions
00:28:32

“We should not have a strategy that involves killing a sizable percentage of the population. But, even if you were going to get over that ethical hurdle, [herd immunity for Covid-19] still isn't going to work.”
- Sam Scarpino

For this special mini-series covering the Covid-19 pandemic, we will bring you into conversation with the scientists studying the bigger picture of this crisis, so you can learn their cutting-edge approaches and what sense they make of our evolving global situation.

This week we speak with Samuel V. Scarpino, who earned his PhD at UT Austin before becoming an Omidyar Fellow at The Santa Fe Institute, and now an Assistant Professor in the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. In this episode, we glance off the surface of his extensive epidemiological research to discuss the complexity of interacting biological and behavioral contagions, analyzing Chinese mobility data to evaluate pandemic interventions, and the problem of unequal data collection due to socioeconomic inequality.

Note that this episode was recorded on March 20th and we’d like to issue a blanket disclaimer that our understanding of the novel coronavirus pandemic evolves by the hour. We believe this information to be up to date at the time of publication but the findings discussed in this episode could soon be refined by more research.

Sam’s Website & Twitter Page.

Read the papers we discuss in this episode at Sam’s Google Scholar Page.

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Apr 01, 2020
Laurent Hébert-Dufresne on Halting the Spread of COVID-19
00:49:14

Chances are, if you are listening to this around the time it was released, you’re listening alone. Right now the human species is conducting one of the most sweeping synchronized experiments of all time: physical isolation, restricted travel, shuttered businesses, our social lives moved online. Many people wonder whether all of this is truly necessary to halt the spread of COVID-19—or do not understand what differences there are between closed borders and closed schools and businesses, how epidemiologists derive the interventions they advise, and why it matters that we all stay home right now.

This week’s guest is Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at The University of Vermont’s Complex Systems Center, former SFI James S. McDonnell Foundation Postdoc and Research Fellow, and Editor of PLOS Complexity Channel. In this episode we discuss how network epidemiology studies contagions as they unfold across multiple scales, how co-infections (both biological and informational) change disease transmissibility, and how the best available research supports drastic containment measures.

Note that this episode was recorded on March 17th and we’d like to issue a blanket disclaimer that our understanding of the novel coronavirus pandemic evolves by the hour. We believe this information to be up to date at the time of publication but the findings discussed in this episode could soon be refined by more research.

Due to the pace at which the news is changing, we’ll ignore our normal schedule for the next few weeks and publish new episodes as quickly as we can.  Please take a moment to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, and feel free to suggest questions for upcoming guests on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

Laurent’s Website & Twitter Page.

Read the papers we discuss in this episode at Laurent’s Google Scholar Page.

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Mar 26, 2020
Andy Dobson on Epidemic Modeling for COVID-19
00:36:14

Pandemics like the current novel coronavirus disease outbreak provide a powerful incentive to study the dynamics of complex adaptive systems. They also make it obvious, as new information streams in and our forecasts change in real-time, how hard emergent behaviors are to model and predict. For this special mini-series covering the COVID-19 crisis, we will bring you into conversation with scientists in the Santa Fe Institute’s global research network who study epidemics so you can learn their cutting-edge approaches and what sense they make of our evolving global situation.

Due to the pace at which the news is changing, we’ll ignore our normal schedule for the next few weeks and get more, shorter conversations out more frequently.  Please take a moment to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts, and feel free to suggest questions for upcoming guests on Twitter or in our Facebook group.

This episode’s returning guest is SFI External Professor, Princeton epidemiologist Andy Dobson.  Among the questions we discuss:

What are the benefits and limits of mathematical models in tracking contagious disease? How do epidemiologists make sense of the tradeoffs between a pathogen’s transmissibility and virulence with spatial and evolutionary models? When is it likely that herd immunity will and will not work as a reasonable response to COVID-19?  What happens if COVID-19 becomes an endemic seasonal infection? How are the dynamics of epidemiological and economic systems related, both at the level of disease transmission and for modeling recovery?

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Andy’s Website

Andy’s Google Scholar Page

Andy’s first appearance on Complexity Podcast Episode 16

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Mar 19, 2020
Nicole Creanza on Cultural Evolution in Humans & Songbirds
01:06:19

One feature common to nonlinear phenomena is how they challenge intuitions. Maybe nowhere is this more apparent than in studying the evolutionary process, and organisms in which not just genes but learned behaviors reproduce themselves provide a fountain of reliable surprises. Teasing out the intricate dynamics of gene-culture co-evolution is no easy feat. The dance of language, tools, and rituals together with anatomy reveals a deeper hidden order in how information spreads, and offers clues to why some strategies for innovation repeat themselves across the tree of life.

This week’s guest is Nicole Creanza, an Assistant Professor in the Biological Sciences department at Vanderbilt University whose research merges computational and theoretical approaches to the comparison of cultural and genetic evolution in both human languages and birdsong. In this episode, we discuss how geography, genetics, behavior, and technology collide in fascinating ways and how the study of gene-culture interactions might answer some of natural history’s greatest riddles.

Nicole’s Website.

Nicole’s Google Scholar Page.

Nicole’s Santa Fe Institute Seminar: Cultural Evolution in Structured Populations.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by subscribing, leaving a review, and telling your friends about the show on social media. 

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Mar 12, 2020
Melanie Mitchell on Artificial Intelligence: What We Still Don't Know
01:17:16

Since the term was coined in 1956, artificial intelligence has been a kind of mirror that tells us more about our theories of intelligence, and our hopes and fears about technology, than about whether we can make computers think. AI requires us to formulate and specify: what do we mean by computation and cognition, intelligence and thought? It is a topic rife with hype and strong opinions, driven more by funding and commercial goals than almost any other field of science...with the curious effect of making massive, world-changing technological advancements even as we lack a unifying theoretical framework to explain and guide the change. So-called machine intelligences are more and more a part of everyday human life, but we still don’t know if it is possible to make computers think, because we have no universal, satisfying definition of what thinking is. Meanwhile, we deploy technologies that we don’t fully understand to make decisions for us, sometimes with tragic consequences. To build machines with common sense, we have to answer fundamental questions such as, “How do humans learn?” “What is innate and what is taught?” “How much do sociality and evolution play a part in our intelligence, and are they necessary for AI?”

This week’s guest is computer scientist Melanie Mitchell, Davis Professor of Complexity at SFI, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, founder of ComplexityExplorer.org, and author or editor of six books, including the acclaimed Complexity: A Guided Tour and her latest, Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans. In this episode, we discuss how much left there is to learn about artificial intelligence, and how research in evolution, neuroscience, childhood development, and other disciplines might help shed light on what AI still lacks: the ability to truly think.

Visit Melanie Mitchell’s Website for research papers and to buy her book, Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans

Follow Melanie on Twitter.

Watch Melanie's SFI Community Lecture on AI.

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More discussions with Melanie:

Lex Fridman

EconTalk

Jim Rutt

WBUR On Point

Melanie's AMA on The Next Web

Mar 05, 2020
Albert Kao on Animal Sociality & Collective Computation
00:52:38

Over one hundred years ago, Sir Francis Galton asked 787 villagers to guess an ox’s weight. None of them got it right, but averaging the answers led to a near-perfect estimate. This is a textbook case of the so-called “wisdom of crowds,” in which we’re smarter as collectives than we are as individuals. But the story of why evolution sometimes favors sociality is not so simple — everyone can call up cases in which larger groups make worse decisions. More nuanced scientific research is required for a deeper understanding of the origins and fitness benefits of collective computation — how the complexity of an environment or problem, or the structure of a group, provides the evolutionary pressures that have shaped the landscape of wild and civilized societies alike. Not every group deploys the same rules for decision-making; some decide by a majority, some by consensus. Some groups break up into smaller sub-groups and evaluate things in a hierarchy of modular decisions. Some crowds are wise and some are dumber than their parts, and understanding how and when and why the living world adopts a vast diversity of different strategies for sociality yields potent insights into how to tackle the most wicked problems of our time.

This week’s guest is Albert Kao, a Baird Scholar and Omidyar Fellow here at SFI. Kao came to Santa Fe after receiving his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton and spending three years as a James S. McDonnell fellow at Harvard. In this episode, we talk about his research into social animals and collective decision-making, just one of several reasons why a species might evolve to live in groups. What do the features of these groups, or the environments they live in, have to do with how they process information and act in the world?

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Albert’s Website

Albert’s Google Scholar Page

Discussed:
Quanta Magazine’s “Smarter Parts Make Collective Systems Too Stubborn”

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Feb 27, 2020
David B. Kinney on the Philosophy of Science
00:55:43

Science is often seen as a pure, objective discipline — as if it all rests neatly on cause and effect. As if the universe acknowledges a difference between ideal categories like “biology” and “physics.” But lately, the authority of science has had to reckon with critiques that it is practiced by flawed human actors inside social institutions. How much can its methods really disclose? Somewhere between the two extremes of scientism and the assertion that all knowledge is a social construct, real scientists continue to explore the world under conditions of uncertainty, ready to revise it all with deeper rigor.

For this great project to continue in spite of our known biases, it’s helpful to step back and ask some crucial questions about the nature, limits, and reliability of science. To answer the most fundamental questions of our cosmos, it is time to bring back the philosophers to articulate a better understanding of how it is that we know what we know in the first place. Some questions — like the nature of causation, where we should look for aliens, and why we might rationally choose not to know important information — might not be answerable without bringing science and philosophy back into conversation with each other.

This week’s guest is David Kinney, an Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow here at SFI whose research focuses on the philosophy of science and formal epistemology. We talk about his work on rational ignorance, explanatory depth, causation, and more on a tour of a philosophy unlike what most of us may be familiar with from school — one thriving in collaboration with the sciences.

DavidBKinney.com

On the Explanatory Depth and Pragmatic Value of Coarse-Grained, Probabilistic, Causal Explanations.Philosophy of Science. 86(1): 145-167.

Is Causation Scientific?

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Feb 20, 2020
Kirell Benzi on Data Art & The Future of Science Communication
01:06:06

Science has always been about improving human understanding of our universe…but scientists have not always prioritized accessibility of their hard-won results. The deeper research digs into specialized sub-fields and daunting data sets, the greater the divide a team must cross to help communicate their findings not just to the public, but to other scientists.

It is cliché: “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” But it’s the truth: strong visual communication helps readers make the choice to dig into dense manuscripts, and helps journal editors decide whose work gets published in the first place. Good dataviz can get complexity across in less time and with less effort, help public audiences grasp science better and appreciate the beauty that inspired the research to start with.

Deciding how to represent research in graphic form is both a little science and a little art: it takes developing an understanding of what information matters and what doesn’t, and how other people will absorb it. Thus it should come as no surprise that in our noisy era, the data artist rises as a hero of both fields: empowered by technology to bridge dissociated disciplines and help us all learn more and better.

This week’s episode is with Kirell Benzi, a data artist and data visualization lecturer who holds a PhD in Data Science from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Kirell’s work has been shown in outlets as diverse as the Swiss National Museum, Gizmodo, VICE, and Phys.org. In this recording, we discuss his projects mapping the Montreaux Jazz Festival and the Star Wars Extended Universe, the future of neural-network assisted data visualization, and how data art helps with the technical and ethical challenges facing science communication in the 21st Century.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a review at Apple Podcasts, or sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

Kirell Benzi’s Website

Kirell’s Instagram

Kirell’s SFI seminar on Data Art (video)

“Useful Junk? The Effects of Visual Embellishment on Comprehension and Memorability of Charts” by Scott Bateman, Regan L. Mandryk, Carl Gutwin, Aaron Genest, & David McDine, University of Saskatchewan

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Feb 13, 2020
Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution
01:02:22

Why is the internal structure of Bacteria so different from the architecture of a nucleated cell? Why do some kinds of organisms stay small, whereas others grow to enormous size? What evolutionary challenges drove life’s major transitions into more and more complex varieties…and what does studying these areas reveal about the changing landscape of our global economy?

New research into the science of scale — how physics operates on systems of different sizes — reveals universal speed limits imposed on biology by the energy required to make or repair component parts. It explains the varying evolutionary pressures on organisms to reallocate resources and change their body plans as they grow. It helps to resolve fierce old debates about just how much contingent history limits a creature’s future evolutionary options. And it illuminates how tradeoffs in resiliency and efficiency constrain the strategies of animals and human institutions alike, favoring self-reliance in some contexts and cooperation in others. Scale helps us prune the tree of possibilities and understand what are and are not likely futures for this planet.

We have a lot to learn from germs and insects…

Chris Kempes’ Website.


 

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Feb 06, 2020
Andy Dobson on Disease Ecology & Conservation Strategy
00:59:12

Physics usually gets the credit for grand unifying theories and the search for universal laws…but looking past the arbitrary boundaries between the sciences, it’s just as true that ecological research reveals deep patterns in the energy and information structures of our cosmos. There are profound analogies to draw from how evolving living systems organize themselves. And at the intersection of biology and physics, epidemiology and economics, new strategies for conservation and development emerge to guide us through the needle’s eye, away from global poverty and ecological catastrophe and toward a healthier and wealthier tomorrow…

This week’s guest is SFI External Professor Andy Dobson of Princeton University, whose work focuses on food webs, parasites, and infectious diseases to help us understand and better manage the complexities of climate change and urban growth, human-wildlife interactions, and the spread of pathogens. In this episode we talk about how network structures can inhibit or accelerate disease transmission, the link between biodiversity and economic growth, and how complex systems thinking leads to better wildlife conservation.

For transcripts, show notes, research links, and more, please visit complexity.simplecast.com.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a  review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

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Andy’s Website

Andy’s Google Scholar Page

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Jan 30, 2020
R. Maria del-Rio Chanona on Modeling Labor Markets & Tech Unemployment
00:50:06

Since the first Industrial Revolution, most people have responded in one of two ways to the threat of technological unemployment: either a general blanket fear that the machines are coming for us all, or an equally uncritical dismissal of the issue. But history shows otherwise: the labor market changes over time in adaptation to the complex and nonlinear ways automation eats economies. Some jobs are easier to lose but teach skills that translate to other more secure jobs; other kinds of work elude mechanization but are comparably easier for humans, and thus don’t provide the kind of job security one might suppose. By analyzing labor networks — studying the landscapes of how skillsets intersect with labor markets and these systems mutate under pressure from a changing technological milieu — researchers can make deeper and more practical quantitative models for how our world will shift along with evolutions in robotics and AI. Dispelling Chicken Little fears and challenging the sanguine techno-optimists, these models start to tell a story of a future not unlike the past: one in which Big Changes will disrupt the world we know, arrive unevenly, reshape terrains of privilege and hardship, and reward those who can dedicate themselves to lifelong learning.

This week’s guest is R. Maria del Rio-Chanona, a Mathematics PhD student supervised by SFI External Professor Doyne Farmer at the University of Oxford. Before starting her PhD, Maria did her BSc in Physics at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and was a research intern at the International Monetary Fund, where she studied global financial contagion in multilayer networks. We met at the 2019 New Complexity Economics Symposium to discuss the use of agent-based models in economics, how the labor market changes in response to technological disruption, and the future of work.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

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Maria’s Website & Links to Papers.

Maria’s Google Scholar Page.

Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson on Technological Unemployment.

Carl Benedikt Frey & Michael A. Osborne on Technological Unemployment.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Jan 23, 2020
W. Brian Arthur (Part 2) on The Future of The Economy
01:00:49

If the economy is better understood as an evolving system, an out-of-equilibrium ecology composed of agents that adapt to one another’s strategies, how does this change the way we think about our future? By drawing new analogies between technology and life, and studying how tools evolve by building on and recombining what has come before, what does this tell us about economics as a sub-process of our self-organizing biosphere? Over the last forty years, previously siloed scientific disciplines have come together with new data-driven methods to trace the outlines of a unifying economic theory, and allow us to design new human systems that anticipate the planet-wide disruptions of our rapidly accelerating age. New stories need to be articulated, ones that start earlier than human history, and in which societies work better when engineered in service to the laws of physics and biology they ultimately follow…

This week’s guest is W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and Visiting Researcher at Xerox PARC.  In this second part of our two-episode conversation, we discuss technology as seen through the lens of evolutionary biology, and how he foresees the future of the economy as our labor market and financial systems are increasingly devoured by artificial intelligence.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Brian’s Website.

Brian’s Google Scholar page.

Where is technology taking the economy?” in McKinsey, 2017.

The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves.

“Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered” by Gould & Eldredge.

"A natural bias for simplicity" by Mark Buchanan in Nature Physics.

"Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" by John Maynard Keynes.

Jan 15, 2020
W. Brian Arthur (Part 1) on The History of Complexity Economics
00:57:03

From its beginnings as a discipline nearly 150 years ago, economics rested on assumptions that don’t hold up when studied in the present day. The notion that our economic systems are in equilibrium, that they’re made of actors making simple rational and self-interested decisions with perfect knowledge of society— these ideas prove about as useful in the Information Age as Newton’s laws of motion are to quantum physicists. A novel paradigm for economics, borrowing insights from ecology and evolutionary biology, started to emerge at SFI in the late 1980s — one that treats our markets and technologies as systems out of balance, serving metabolic forces, made of agents with imperfect information and acting on fundamental uncertainty. This new complexity economics uses new tools and data sets to shed light on puzzles standard economics couldn’t answer — like why the economy grows, how sudden and cascading crashes happen, why some companies and cities lock in permanent competitive advantages, and how technology evolves. And complexity economics offers insights back to biology, providing a new lens through which to understand the vastly intricate exchanges on which human life depends.

This week’s guest is W. Brian Arthur, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and Visiting Researcher at Xerox PARC.  In this first part of a two-episode conversation, we discuss the heady early days when complex systems science took on economics, and how biology provided a new paradigm for understanding our financial and technological systems.  Tune in next week for part two...

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a five-star review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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For more information:

Brian’s Website.

Brian’s Google Scholar page.

Where is technology taking the economy?” in McKinsey, 2017.

The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves.

“Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered” by Gould & Eldredge.

Jan 08, 2020
Matthew Jackson on Social & Economic Networks
01:05:47

It may be a cliché, but it’s a timeless truth regardless: who you know matters. The connectedness of actors in a network tells us not just who wields the power in societies and markets, but also how new information spreads through a community and how resilient economic systems are to major shocks. One of the pillars of a complex systems understanding is the network science that reveals how structural differences lead to (or help counter) inequality and why a good idea alone can’t change the world. As human beings, who we are is shaped by those around us — not just our relationships to them but their relationships to one another. And the topology of human networks governs everything from the diffusion of fake news to cascading bank failures to the popularity of social influencers and their habits to the potency of economic interventions. To learn about your place amidst the networks of your life is to awaken to the hidden seams of human culture and the flows of energy that organize our world.

This week’s guest is SFI External Professor Matthew O. Jackson, William D. Eberle Professor of Economics at Stanford University and senior fellow of CIFAR, also a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In this episode, we discuss key insights from his book, The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviors.

For transcripts, show notes, research links, and more, please visit complexity.simplecast.com.

And note that we’re taking a short break over the winter holiday. COMPLEXITY will be back with new episodes in January 2020.

If you enjoy this show, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a review at Apple Podcasts, or by telling your friends on social media…after this episode’s discussion, we know you’ll understand how crucial this can be. Thank you for listening!

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Matthew Jackson’s Stanford Homepage.

WSJ reviews The Human Network.

Jackson’s Coursera MOOCs on Game Theory I, Game Theory II, and Social & Economic Networks.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Dec 18, 2019
Ray Monk on The Lives of Extraordinary Individuals: Wittgenstein, Russell, Oppenheimer
00:50:13

In this show’s first episode, David Krakauer explained how art and science live along an axis of explanatory depth: science strives to find the simplest adequate abstractions to explain the world we observe, where art’s devotion is to the incompressible — the one-offs that resist abstraction and attempts to write a unifying framework. Between the random and the regular, amidst the ligaments that bind our scientific and artistic inquiries, we find a huge swath of the world that we struggle to articulate in formal quantitative terms, but that rewards our curiosity and offers us profound insights regardless. Here lives the open question of what we can learn from history — specifically, the histories of other people’s lives.  Why do we love biographies?  What can the stories of the lives of others teach us about both situational and common truths of being?  This is a different kind of episode and conversation, one living at the intersection of philosophy and history and science…

This week’s episode features guest interviewer, SFI President David Krakauer, in conversation with philosopher and biographer Ray Monk.  Monk teaches at the University of Southhampton and was SFI’s 2017 Miller Scholar, a position that he earned for his biographies of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, and J. Robert Oppenheimer — three mavericks whose legacies are lessons for contemporary leaders.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a five-star review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Ray Monk on Twitter.

Ray Monk’s SFI Miller Scholar Profile Page.

Ray Monk on Hidden Forces Podcast.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Dec 11, 2019
Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation
01:06:12

What is the difference between 100 kilograms of human being and 100 kilograms of algae? One answer to this question is the veins and arteries that carry nutrients throughout the human body, allowing for the intricate coordination needed in a complex organism. Energy requirements determine how the evolutionary process settles on the body plans appropriate to an environment — one way to tell the story of life’s major innovations is in terms of how a living system solves the problems of increasing body size with internal transport networks and more extensive regulation. And the same is true in our invented information systems, every bit as subject to the laws of physics as we are. Computers, just like living tissue, seek effective tradeoffs between their scale and energy efficiency. A physics of metabolic scaling — one that finds deep commonalities and crucial differences between ant hives and robot swarms, between the physiology of elephants and server farms — can help explain some of the biggest puzzles of the fossil record and sketch out the likely future evolution of technology. It is already revolutionizing how we understand search algorithms and the genius of eusocial organisms. And just maybe, it can also help us solve the challenge of sustainability for planetary culture.

This week’s guest is Melanie Moses, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Professor of Computer Science and Biology at the University of New Mexico, and Principal Investigator for the NASA Swarmathon. In this episode, we talk about her highly interdisciplinary work on metabolic scaling in biology and computer information-processing, and how complex systems made and born alike have found ingenious ways to balance the demands of growth and maintenance — with implications for space exploration, economics, computer chip design, and more.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a five-star review at Apple Podcasts, or by sharing the show on social media. Thank you for listening!

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Melanie’s UNM Webpage & full list of publications.

Beyond pheromones: evolving error-tolerant, flexible, and scalable ant-inspired robot swarms” by Joshua Hecker & Melanie Moses.

Energy and time determine scaling in biological and computer designs” by Moses, et al.

Shifts in metabolic scaling, production, and efficiency across major evolutionary transitions of life” by DeLong, Moses, et al.

Distributed adaptive search in T cells: lessons from ants” by Melanie Moses, et al.

Curvature in metabolic scaling” by Kolokotrones, et al.

The NASA Swarmathon.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Dec 04, 2019
Mirta Galesic on Social Learning & Decision-making
01:19:23

We live in a world so complicated and immense it challenges our comparably simple minds to even know which information we should use to make decisions. The human brain seems tuned to follow simple rules, and those rules change depending on the people we can turn to for support: when we decide to follow the majority or place our trust in experts, for example, depends on the networks in which we’re embedded. Consequently, much of learning and decision-making has as much or more to do with social implications as it has to do with an objective world of fact…and this has major consequences for the ways in which we come together to solve complex problems. Whether in governance, science, or private life, the strategies we lean on — mostly unconsciously — determine whether we form wise, effective groups, or whether our collective process gets jammed up with autocrats or bureaucrats. Sometimes the crowd is smarter than the individual, and sometimes not, and figuring out which strategies are better requires a nuanced look at how we make decisions with each other, and how information flows through human networks. Given the scale and intensity of modern life, the science of our social lives takes on profound importance.

This week’s guest is SFI Professor & Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics Mirta Galesic, External Faculty at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna, and Associate Researcher at the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. In this episode we talk about her research into how simple cognitive mechanisms interact with social and physical environments to produce complex social phenomena…and how we can understand and cope with the uncertainty and complexity inherent in many everyday decisions.

If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach a wider audience by leaving a five-star review at Apple Podcasts. Thanks for listening!

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

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Mirta’s Website.

Visit Mirta’s Google Scholar Page for links to all the papers we discuss.

Mirta’s 2015 talk at SFI: “How interaction of mind and environment shapes social judgments.”

Digital Transformation documentary about Mirta and her work.

Michelle Girvan’s SFI Community Lecture on reservoir computing.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Nov 27, 2019
Olivia Judson on Major Energy Transitions in Evolutionary History
01:04:17

It’s easy to take modern Earth for granted — our breathable atmosphere, the delicately balanced ecosystems we depend on — but this world is nothing like the planet on which life first found its foothold. In fact it may be more appropriate to think of life in terms of verbs than nouns, of processes instead of finished products. This is the evolutionary turn that science started taking in the 19th Century…but only in the last few decades has biology begun to see this planet’s soil, air, and oceans as the work-in-progress of our biosphere. The story of our planet can’t be adequately told without some understanding of how life itself depends on opportunities that life creates, based on the energy and mineral resources made as byproducts of our metabolisms. A new, revelatory narrative of the last 3.8 billion years refigures living systems in terms of thermodynamic flows and the ever-growing range of possibilities created by our ever-more-complex ecologies. And in the telling, this new history sheds light on some of the biggest puzzles of the fossil record: why complex animals took so long to appear, why humans are the way we are, and maybe even why the sky is blue.

This week’s guest is evolutionary biologist and science journalist Olivia Judson, an honorary research fellow at The Imperial College of London who received her PhD from the University of Oxford and whose writing has appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Guardian, and National Geographic. She is also the author of the internationally best-selling popular science book, Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation. In this episode, we discuss her work on major energy transitions in evolution (the subject of her next book), and what we can learn by studying the intimate dance of biology and geology over the last 4 billion years.

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Olivia’s Website.

The energy expansions of evolution” in Nature.

The Atlantic on Olivia’s essay.

Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Nov 20, 2019
Rajiv Sethi on Stereotypes, Crime, and The Pursuit of Justice
00:59:39

Whether or not you think you hold them, stereotypes shape the lives of everyone on Earth. As human beings, we lack the ability to judge each situation as unique and different…and how we group novel experiences by our past conditioning, as helpful as it often is, creates extraordinary complications in society. As modern life exposes us to an increasing number of encounters with the other in which we do not have time to form accurate models of someone   or some place’s true identity, we find ourselves in a downward spiral of self-reinforcing biases — transforming how we practice law enforcement, justice, and life online. Our polarized, irrational world calls for an intense look at what it will take to humanize each other — at traffic stops, in court, on social media, and anywhere our doubt about an unfamiliar face can lead to tragic consequences.

This week’s guest is Rajiv Sethi, Professor of Economics at Columbia University and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. In this episode, we discuss how biases in our attention and cognition lead to unfair outcomes on the streets and on the Web, and where we can look for hope in countervailing strategies.

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Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice by Brendan O’Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi (Harvard University Press).

Rajiv’s Website.

Albert Kao & Iain Couzin on collective intelligence and modular societies.

Aumann’s agreement theorem.

“We can’t disagree forever” (Geanakopolos & Polemarchakis).

Raissa D’Souza on the Collapse of Networks.

Geoffrey West on scaling laws and cities.

Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Nov 13, 2019
Jennifer Dunne on Reconstructing Ancient Food Webs
00:48:05

Looking back through time, the fossil record shows a remarkable diversity of forms, creatures unfamiliar to today’s Earth, suggesting ecosystems alien enough to challenge any sense of continuity. But reconstructed trophic networks — maps of who’s eating whom — reveal a hidden order that has been conserved since the first complex animals of half a billion years ago. These network models offer scientists an armature on which to hang new unifying theories of ecology, a way to answer questions about how energy moves through living systems, how evolution keeps producing creatures to refill specific niches, how mass extinctions happen, what minimal viable ecosystems are and why.  Untangling this deep structure of food webs may also shed light on technology and economics, and guide interventions to ensure sustainability in agriculture, conservation efforts, even venture capital investment.

This week’s guest is Jennifer Dunne, SFI’s Vice President for Science and Fellow at the Ecological Society of America. Dunne got her PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, joined SFI’s faculty in 2007, and sits on the advisory board for Nautilus Magazine.  In this second half of a two-part conversation, we discuss her work on reconstructing ancient food webs, and the implications of this research for our understanding of ecologies, extinctions, sustainability, and technological innovation.

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Jennifer Dunne’s Website.

Related Reading:

Modern Lessons from Ancient Food Webs

Parasites Affect Food Web Structure Primarily through Increased Diversity and Complexity

Highly resolved early Eocene food webs show development of modern trophic structure after the end-Cretaceous extinction

The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food webs

A primer on the history of food web ecology: Fundamental contributions of fourteen researchers

Quanta Magazine features Dunne on humans in food webs.

Jennifer on This Week in Science at InterPlanetary Festival 2019.

Learn more about The ArchaeoEcology Project.

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Nov 06, 2019
Jennifer Dunne on Food Webs & ArchaeoEcology
00:46:24

For as long as humans have erected walls around our cities, we’ve considered culture separate from the encircling wilderness. This difference came to be expressed in our “man vs. nature” narratives, beliefs in our dominion over the nonhuman world, and lately even the assertion that the Earth would be better off without us. Ecology research has strangely almost never included humans in the picture. And yet Homo sapiens is a phenomenon of nature, woven into food webs, demonstrating the same principles at work as any other creature on this planet. New research into trophic networks — who’s eating whom — has bridged ecology and archaeology to shed light on the many ways that human beings have participated as key members of ecosystems round the globe. The emerging portrait of our place in nature offers us the opportunity to tell new stories of the hairless ape and what we’re doing here — and just in time, perhaps, to help reshape our attitudes toward conservation and development, and what we dare to hope for in the years to come.

This week’s guest is Jennifer Dunne, SFI’s Vice President for Science and Fellow at the Ecological Society of America. Dunne got her PhD in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley, joined SFI’s faculty in 2007, and sits on the advisory board for Nautilus Magazine.  In the first half of a two-part conversation, we discuss her work on food and use webs and the ArchaeoEcology Project working group at SFI, where she and her collaborators are transforming how we think of human history.

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Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Jennifer Dunne’s Website.
Quanta Magazine features Dunne on humans in food webs.

The New York Times features Dunne’s collaborator, SFI Postdoc Stefani Crabtree and her work on the Martu people of Australia.

Learn more about The ArchaeoEcology Project.

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Oct 30, 2019
Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities
00:50:17

If you’re a human in this century, the odds are overwhelming that you are a city-dweller. These hubs of human cultural activity exert a powerful allure – and most people understand that this appeal is due to some deep link between the density, pace, wealth, and opportunity of cities. But what is a city, really? And why have the vast majority of human beings migrated to these intense and often difficult locations? Cities breed not just ideas but also crime, disease, and inequality. We live amidst a shift in what a normal human life looks and feels like, akin to the transition from our lives as nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary farmers — only this time, it is happening before our eyes. How can we cultivate the best that cities offer and minimize the predicaments they pose? A powerful new science of the city has emerged in just the last few years, connecting the metropolis through physics to the properties that govern animal metabolisms, ecological diversity, and economics.

This week’s guest is Luis Bettencourt, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. We spoke while he was visiting Santa Fe to lead SFI’s Global Sustainability Summer School to talk about what makes a city such a fertile zone for innovation of all kinds, and how to help ensure the future of the city is one human beings want to live in.

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Visit The Mansueto Institute's Website.

Watch a short video on Bettencourt’s work to eliminate slums.

Here are the three papers we discussed in this episode:

"Toward cities without slums: Topology and the spatial evolution of neighborhoods" in Science Advances.

"The Origins of Scaling in Cities" in Science.

Towards a statistical mechanics of cities” in Science Advances.

Learn more about SFI's Global Sustainability Summer School.

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Oct 23, 2019
Sabine Hauert on Swarming Across Scales
00:39:23

If complex systems science had a mascot, it might be the murmuration. These enormous flocks of starlings darken skies across the northern hemisphere, performing intricate airborne maneuvers with no central leadership or plan. Each bird behaves according to a simple set of rules about how closely it tracks neighbors, resulting in one of the world’s most awesome natural spectacles.

This notion of self-organizing flocks of relatively simple agents has inspired a new paradigm of engineering, building simple, flexible, adaptive swarms that stand to revolutionize the way we practice medicine, map ecosystems, and extend our public infrastructure. We’re living at the dawn of the age of the robot swarm – and these metal murmurations help us create communications networks, fight cancer, and evolve to solve new problems for an age that challenges the isolated strategies of individuals.

This week’s guest is Sabine Hauert, Assistant Professor in Robotics at the University of Bristol and President/Co-founder of robohub.org, a non-profit dedicated to connecting the robotics community to the world. In this episode, we talk about how swarms have changed the way we think about intelligence, and how we build technologies for everything from drug delivery to home construction.

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Hauert Lab Website.

RoboHub Website.

NanoDoc Website.

Sabine at Nature on the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Sabine's 2019 SFI Community Lecture.

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Oct 16, 2019
The Origins of Life: David Krakauer, Sarah Maurer, and Chris Kempes at InterPlanetary Festival 2019
00:55:37

A few years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, upsetting centuries of certainty about the history of life, he wrote a now-famous letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker, British botanist and advocate of evolutionary theory. "But if (and oh what a big if),” Darwin’s letter reads, “we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity etcetera present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes.”

That was 1871. Nearly 150 years hence, humankind has worked out the details of the evolutionary process to exquisite depth and resolution, but abiogenesis - the origins of life - remains one of the greatest mysteries of our world. Fierce theoretical debates rage on between those who think life got its start in deep sea hydrothermal vents and those who think it started in “some warm little pond” – not to mention more heterodox hypotheses. The consequences are enormous – shaping plans for interplanetary exploration, changing our approach to medicine, and maybe foremost, settling the existential question of what life is in the first place.

This week’s episode was recorded live at the Santa Fe Institute’s InterPlanetary Festival in June 2019. The panel features evolutionary theorist David Krakauer, President of SFI; biochemist Sarah Maurer, Assistant Professor at Central Connecticut State University; and SFI Professor Chris Kempes, who works on biological scaling laws. In this discussion, we present a spectrum of perspectives on the origins of life debate, and speak to the importance of presenting this unsettled science as itself an evolutionary object...

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David Krakauer's Webpage & Google Scholar Citations.

Sarah Maurer's Website.

Chris Kempes's Website.

InterPlanetary Festival's Website.

Complexity Explorer's Origins of Life Online Course.

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Oct 09, 2019
David Krakauer on The Landscape of 21st Century Science
00:46:32

For 300 years, the dream of science was to understand the world by chopping it up into pieces. But boiling everything down to basic parts does not tell us about the way those parts behave together. Physicists found the atom, then the quark, and yet these great discoveries don’t answer age-old questions about life, intelligence, or language, innovation, ecosystems, or economies.

So people learned a new trick – not just taking things apart but studying how things organize themselves, without a plan, in ways that cannot be predicted. A new field, complex systems science, sprang up to explain and navigate a world beyond control.

At the same time, improvements in computer processing enabled yet another method for exploring irreducible complexity: we learned to instrumentalize the evolutionary process, forging machine intelligences that can correlate unthinkable amounts of data. And the Internet’s explosive growth empowered science at scale, in networks and with resources we could not have imagined in the 1900s. Now there are different kinds of science, for different kinds of problems, and none of them give us the kind of easy answers we were hoping for.

This is a daring new adventure of discovery for anyone prepared to jettison the comfortable categories that served us for so long. Our biggest questions and most wicked problems call for a unique and planet-wide community of thinkers, willing to work on massive and synthetic puzzles at the intersection of biology and economics, chemistry and social science, physics and cognitive neuroscience.

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David Krakauer's Webpage & Google Scholar Citations.

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Oct 09, 2019