Complexity Digest

Subscribe to Complexity Digest feed Complexity Digest
Networking the complexity community since 1999
Updated: 1 hour 22 min ago

Corruption Networks Concepts and Applications, Oscar M. Granados & José R. Nicolás-Carlock (Eds.)

12 hours 22 min ago

Presents current theoretical, empirical, and operational efforts tackling corruption studies.
Introduces the relevance of evidence-based and network approaches to anticorruption.
Discusses the best ways to convert the obtained knowledge into public policy.

More at: link.springer.com

How firefly flashes illuminate the physics of complex systems

Sat, 09/25/2021 - 16:16

Orit Peleg

Solving the mystery of how and why fireflies flash in time can illuminate the physics of complex systems

Read the full article at: aeon.co

The Space of Possible Minds – Philip Ball

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 19:44

In 1984 computer scientist Aaron Sloman published a paper called “The structure of the space of possible minds.” It called for systematic thinking about the vague yet intuitive notion of mind, which was capable of admitting into the conversation what we had then learnt about animal cognition and artificial intelligence. Almost four decades later, we are in a fair better position to examine Sloman’s proposal: to consider what kinds of minds can exist within the laws of physics, to compare those we already recognize (including the diversity of human minds), and to speculate about the possibilities for artificial “mind design”. In this talk I will explore this question, looking at our current understanding of the functions and capabilities of biological minds, what this might imply for efforts to create artificial “minds”, and what the implications are for ideas about consciousness, agency and free will.

Speaker Bio: Philip Ball is a freelance writer and author, and worked for many years as an editor of Nature. His many books include Critical Mass (which won the 2005 Aventis Science Books prize), Beyond Weird and How to Grow a Human. His next book, The Book of Minds, will be published in early 2022.

Watch at: youtu.be

Neutral bots probe political bias on social media

Fri, 09/24/2021 - 10:12

Wen Chen, Diogo Pacheco, Kai-Cheng Yang & Filippo Menczer
Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 5580 (2021)

Social media platforms attempting to curb abuse and misinformation have been accused of political bias. We deploy neutral social bots who start following different news sources on Twitter, and track them to probe distinct biases emerging from platform mechanisms versus user interactions. We find no strong or consistent evidence of political bias in the news feed. Despite this, the news and information to which U.S. Twitter users are exposed depend strongly on the political leaning of their early connections. The interactions of conservative accounts are skewed toward the right, whereas liberal accounts are exposed to moderate content shifting their experience toward the political center. Partisan accounts, especially conservative ones, tend to receive more followers and follow more automated accounts. Conservative accounts also find themselves in denser communities and are exposed to more low-credibility content. 

Read the full article at: www.nature.com

The Zero Covid strategy continues to protect people, economies and freedoms more effectively

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 16:21

The G10 countries are far more affected by the pandemic in all aspects than the OECD countries that have opted for the Zero Covid strategy or similar, a representative benchmark of 82 million inhabitants of economically advanced democracies.

The number of deaths per million inhabitants was 44 times higher in the G10 countries, which means 1.1 million too many deaths by June 30, 2021. Economic performance, civil liberties and mobility were also worse.

Read the full article at: www.institutmolinari.org

Complexity Weekend – November 12 – 14, 2021

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 15:51

Join our facilitated weekend hackathon Fri-Sun, November 12 – 14, 2021, taking place entirely online. Learn to apply Complexity Science toward solving important problems you’re passionate about within a team setting.

More at: www.complexityweekend.com

Handbook on Cities and Complexity, edited by Juval Portugali

Mon, 09/20/2021 - 13:40

Written by some of the founders of complexity theory and complexity theories of cities (CTC), this Handbook expertly guides the reader through over forty years of intertwined developments: the emergence of general theories of complex self-organized systems and the consequent emergence of CTC. 

Examining studies from the end of 1970 through to the current leading approach to urbanism, planning and design, the book provides an up-to-date snapshot of CTC. Insightful chapters are split into five parts covering the early foundations of the topic, the evolution of towns and cities and urban complexity, the links between complexity, languages and cities, modelling traffic and parking in cities, and urban planning and design. The Handbook on Cities and Complexity concludes with the contributors’ personal statements on their observations of COVID-19’s impact upon global cities.
 
This book will be an invaluable resource for those researching cities and complexity and also for scholars of urban studies, planning, physics, mathematics, AI, and architecture.

More at: www.e-elgar.com

Mind the Mind Gap

Sun, 09/12/2021 - 15:10

Ricardo Hausmann

While developing countries have been catching up to their richer counterparts on some key metrics, they appear to be falling behind on others. Most worrisome is a growing gap in the local capabilities needed to make the most of new technological innovations.

Read the full article at: www.project-syndicate.org

W. Brian Arthur on Complexity Economics – Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast

Sat, 09/11/2021 - 17:16

Economies in the modern world are incredibly complex systems. But when we sit down to think about them in quantitative ways, it’s natural to keep things simple at first. We look for reliable relations between small numbers of variables, seek equilibrium configurations, and so forth. But those approaches don’t always work in complex systems, and sometimes we have to use methods that are specifically adapted to the challenges of complexity. That’s the perspective of W. Brian Arthur, a pioneer in the field of complexity economics, according to which economies are typically not in equilibrium, not made of homogeneous agents, and are being constantly updated. We talk about the basic ideas of complexity economics, how it differs from more standard approaches, and what it teaches us about the operation of real economies.

Listen at: www.preposterousuniverse.com

The 2021 Conference on Artificial Life Proceedings

Sat, 09/11/2021 - 15:14

Edited by Jitka ČejkováSilvia HollerLisa SorosOlaf Witkowski

MIT Press

This volume contains the proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2021) which was originally scheduled to be held in Prague (Czech Republic) 19 – 23 July 2021, but because of the covid-19 pandemic and its repercussions, is being held virtually only. (https://2021.alife.org/). The International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE) and the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) have been the major meetings of the artificial life (ALife) research community since 1987 and 1991, respectively. Currently, these scientific gatherings are supported by the International Society for Artificial Life (ISAL) – a democratic, international, professional society dedicated to promoting scientific research and education relating to artificial life, including sponsoring this conference annually, publishing scientific journals and proceedings, and maintaining web sites related to artificial life.

Read the full proceedings at: direct.mit.edu

Future proof: Solving the ‘adaptability paradox’ for the long term

Fri, 09/10/2021 - 15:01

Just when leaders need fresh thinking and decisiveness, they tend to fall back on tried-and-true ways. Five actions can transform your relationship with
uncertainty and help you thrive.

Read the full article at: www.mckinsey.com

Unified treatment of synchronization patterns in generalized networks with higher-order, multilayer, and temporal interactions

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 13:40

Yuanzhao Zhang, Vito Latora & Adilson E. Motter
Communications Physics volume 4, Article number: 195 (2021)

When describing complex interconnected systems, one often has to go beyond the standard network description to account for generalized interactions. Here, we establish a unified framework to simplify the stability analysis of cluster synchronization patterns for a wide range of generalized networks, including hypergraphs, multilayer networks, and temporal networks. The framework is based on finding a simultaneous block diagonalization of the matrices encoding the synchronization pattern and the network topology. As an application, we use simultaneous block diagonalization to unveil an intriguing type of chimera states that appear only in the presence of higher-order interactions. The unified framework established here can be extended to other dynamical processes and can facilitate the discovery of emergent phenomena in complex systems with generalized interactions. Recent studies have shown that complex systems are often best represented by generalized networks such as hypergraphs, multilayer networks, and temporal networks. Here, the authors propose a unified framework to investigate cluster synchronization patterns in generalized networks and demonstrate the existence of chimera states that emerge exclusively in the presence of higher-order interactions.

Read the full article at: www.nature.com

Unmasking the mask studies: Why the effectiveness of surgical masks in preventing respiratory infections has been underestimated

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 12:11

Pratyush K Kollepara, M.Sc, Alexander F Siegenfeld, S.B, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ph.D, Yaneer Bar-Yam, Ph.D

Journal of Travel Medicine, taab144

Background: Pre-pandemic empirical studies have produced mixed statistical results on the effectiveness of masks against respiratory viruses, leading to confusion that may have contributed to organizations such as the WHO and CDC initially not recommending that the general public wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: A threshold-based dose–response curve framework is used to analyse the effects of interventions on infection probabilities for both single and repeated exposure events. Empirical studies on mask effectiveness are evaluated with a statistical power analysis that includes the effect of adherence to mask usage protocols.

Results: When the adherence to mask-usage guidelines is taken into account, the empirical evidence indicates that masks prevent disease transmission: all studies we analysed that did not find surgical masks to be effective were under-powered to such an extent that even if masks were 100% effective, the studies in question would still have been unlikely to find a statistically significant effect. We also provide a framework for understanding the effect of masks on the probability of infection for single and repeated exposures. The framework demonstrates that masks can have a disproportionately large protective effect and that more frequently wearing a mask provides super-linearly compounding protection.

Conclusions: This work shows (1) that both theoretical and empirical evidence is consistent with masks protecting against respiratory infections and (2) that nonlinear effects and statistical considerations regarding the percentage of exposures for which masks are worn must be taken into account when designing empirical studies and interpreting their results.

Read the full article at: academic.oup.com

Future Cities: Why Digital Twins Need to Take Complexity Science on Board

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 11:55

City planners and urban policy makers require simulation models to understand, predict, design and manage urban areas so that cities can become more sustainable, equitable and efficient. Recently, the idea that one might build ‘digital twins’ of cities has captured the imagination of many scientists, engineers and policy makers. To unleash the full potential of data, science, and technology, such an approach requires a clear idea of how similar a digital twin would have to be to the system of interest and in what way. We thus argue that we urgently need theories and methods from complexity science to guide the development and use of digital twins. Different applications-such as the avoidance of traffic congestion or the simulation of emergent social segregation-may actually require different kinds of data and different kinds of twins. Hence, the complexity science approach considers different perspectives on cities which-to some extent-evolve and self-organize themselves like living systems.

Read the full article at: www.researchgate.net

Governing complexity: Integrating science, governance, and law to manage accelerating change in the globalized commons

Sat, 09/04/2021 - 17:29

The speed and uncertainty of environmental change in the Anthropocene challenge the capacity of coevolving social–ecological–technological systems (SETs) to adapt or transform to these changes. Formal government and legal structures further constrain the adaptive capacity of our SETs. However, new, self-organized forms of adaptive governance are emerging at multiple scales in natural resource-based SETs. Adaptive governance involves the private and public sectors as well as formal and informal institutions, self-organized to fill governance gaps in the traditional roles of states. While new governance forms are emerging, they are not yet doing so rapidly enough to match the pace of environmental change. Furthermore, they do not yet possess the legitimacy or capacity needed to address disparities between the winners and losers from change. These emergent forms of adaptive governance appear to be particularly effective in managing complexity. We explore governance and SETs as coevolving complex systems, focusing on legal systems to understand the potential pathways and obstacles to equitable adaptation. We explore how governments may facilitate the emergence of adaptive governance and promote legitimacy in both the process of governance despite the involvement of nonstate actors, and its adherence to democratic values of equity and justice. To manage the contextual nature of the results of change in complex systems, we propose the establishment of long-term study initiatives for the coproduction of knowledge, to accelerate learning and synergize interactions between science and governance and to foster public science and epistemic communities dedicated to navigating transitions to more just, sustainable, and resilient futures.

Read the full article at: www.pnas.org

Dynamical system model predicts when social learners impair collective performance

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 22:36

Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Mirta Galesic, Harvey McGuinness, and Ani Harutyunyan
PNAS August 31, 2021 118 (35) e2106292118;

In collective decision-making systems, such as committees and governments, many individuals follow others instead of evaluating the options on their own. Can a group settle on the option with higher merit when social learners prevail? Previous research has reached mixed conclusions because collective decisions emerge from a complex interaction of cognitive and social factors, which are rarely studied together. This paper develops a simple yet general mathematical framework to study this interaction and predicts a critical threshold for the proportion of social learners, above which an option may prevail regardless of its merit. The results suggest predictable limits to the proportion of social learners in collective situations from teamwork to democratic elections, beyond which the collective performance is affected negatively.

Read the full article at: www.pnas.org

Interplay between population density and mobility in determining the spread of epidemics in cities

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 19:34

Surendra Hazarie, David Soriano-Paños, Alex Arenas, Jesús Gómez-Gardeñes & Gourab Ghoshal 
Communications Physics volume 4, Article number: 191 (2021)

The increasing agglomeration of people in dense urban areas coupled with the existence of efficient modes of transportation connecting such centers, make cities particularly vulnerable to the spread of epidemics. Here we develop a data-driven approach combines with a meta-population modeling to capture the interplay between population density, mobility and epidemic spreading. We study 163 cities, chosen from four different continents, and report a global trend where the epidemic risk induced by human mobility increases consistently in those cities where mobility flows are predominantly between high population density centers. We apply our framework to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States, providing a plausible explanation for the observed heterogeneity in the spreading process across cities. Based on this insight, we propose realistic mitigation strategies (less severe than lockdowns), based on modifying the mobility in cities. Our results suggest that an optimal control strategy involves an asymmetric policy that restricts flows entering the most vulnerable areas but allowing residents to continue their usual mobility patterns.

Read the full article at: www.nature.com

Goal Directedness, Chemical Organizations, and Cybernetic Mechanisms

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 17:32

Evo Busseniers,Tomas Veloz, and Francis Heylighen

Entropy 2021, 23(8), 1039

In this article, we attempt at developing a scenario for the self-organization of goal-directed systems out of networks of (chemical) reactions. Related scenarios have been proposed to explain the origin of life starting from autocatalytic sets, but these sets tend to be too unstable and dependent on their environment to maintain. We apply instead a framework called Chemical Organization Theory (COT), which shows mathematically under which conditions reaction networks are able to form self-maintaining, autopoietic organizations. We introduce the concepts of perturbation, action, and goal based on an operationalization of the notion of change developed within COT. Next, we incorporate the latter with notions native to the theory of cybernetics aimed to explain goal directedness: reference levels and negative feedback among others. To test and refine these theoretical results, we present some examples that illustrate our approach. We finally discuss how this could result in a realistic, step-by-step scenario for the evolution of goal directedness, thus providing a theoretical solution to the age-old question of the origins of purpose.

Read the full article at: www.mdpi.com

Jean Boulton In Conversation With Mark Hardman

Thu, 09/02/2021 - 16:47


//

The Complexity in the Social World series of interviews (and YouTube Playlist) follows on from the seminar we organised in March 2021. The aim of this series is to capture some of the foundational thinkers in conversation around how to apply complexity thinking to the social world, the world of managers, economists, change agents and societies. In this way, some of these foundational thinkers, many starting their work in the 1980s, are represented and their differing perspectives and different foci of application are available in one place.

Watch at: www.youtube.com

A sustainable strategy for Open Streets in (post)pandemic cities

Tue, 08/31/2021 - 13:17

Daniel Rhoads, Albert Solé-Ribalta, Marta C. González & Javier Borge-Holthoefer 
Communications Physics volume 4, Article number: 183 (2021)

Cities world-wide have taken the opportunity presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to improve and expand pedestrian infrastructure, providing residents with a sense of relief and pursuing long-standing goals to decrease automobile dependence and increase walkability. So far, due to a scarcity of data and methodological shortcomings, these efforts have lacked the system-level view of treating sidewalks as a network. Here, we leverage sidewalk data from ten cities in three continents, to first analyse the distribution of sidewalk and roadbed geometries, and find that cities present an unbalanced distribution of public space, favouring automobiles at the expense of pedestrians. Next, we connect these geometries to build a sidewalk network –adjacent, but irreducible to the road network. Finally, we compare a no-intervention scenario with a shared-effort heuristic, in relation to the performance of sidewalk infrastructures to guarantee physical distancing. The heuristic prevents the sidewalk connectivity breakdown, while preserving the road network’s functionality.

Read the full article at: www.nature.com

Pages