Collins Conference Room
Micro Working Group

All day


Our campus is closed to the public for this event.

The goal of our project is to reimagine human social/cultural evolution in formal terms of computation. The interplay of computation and metabolism plays a central role in biology. In essence, all living organisms maintain a state far from thermal equilibrium by expending energy acquired from the environment; they perform computations to acquire and metabolize energy and enact chemical transformations. We start from the idea, what if we sought to describe the interplay of energy and information in the growth of human societies? 

Over the last several generations, evolutionary models of human social complexity have fallen out of favor. Meanwhile, complex systems science has recognized the importance of information theory and computation for understanding complexity. We aim to define and measure social complexity in terms of computational complexity and to understand the observed increase in the complexity of human societies as the growth of our collective computational capacity. This meeting is the third in a series exploring the topic. The first two meetings have already generated significant ongoing research, aiming to develop a model of human societies as a network of Multiple Communicating Machines (MCMs) as well as empirical datasets measuring changes of computational capacity across human history. 


Kyle HarperKyle HarperProfessor of Classics and Letters at the University of Oklahoma; Fractal Faculty, SFI
David WolpertDavid WolpertProfessor at SFI; External Professor at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna

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