A September 27–29 workshop, the Complex Time General Conference on Immortality, meets to explore general patterns for lifespan across scales, from organisms, the mind, and behavior, to civilizations and star systems. The organizers hope to challenge preconceptions about immortality and, eventually, develop a general theory of longevity.
In the last two decades, researchers have reported success modeling high-dimensional chaotic behaviors with a simple but powerful machine-learning approach called reservoir computing. A new paper in Physical Review Research identifies limitations to reservoir computing and suggests a kind of catch-22 that can prove hard to circumvent, especially for complicated dynamic systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has committed more than $250 million to become better prepared for disease outbreaks like COVID-19 — and they’re turning to two SFI researchers, Sam Scarpino of Northeastern University and Lauren Ancel Meyers of the University of Texas at Austin (UT), to help make it happen.
The field of artificial intelligence has long been stymied by the lack of an answer to its most fundamental question: What is intelligence? To address questions about intelligence in AI, we need concrete tasks to pin down and test the notion of intelligence, argue SFI researchers Arseny Moskvichev, Melanie Mitchell, and Victor Vikram Odouard in a new paper in Transactions on Machine Learning Research.
In a complex system, small, local changes can create a cascade of unexpected consequences in other parts of the system. Choices that seem immediately prudent might prove less ideal in the long term. Applied Complexity Fellow Saverio Perri is interested in the unexpected ways that sustainability transitions might impact both social and ecological systems.
New research uncovers a link between aging and circadian rhythms in mammals. Researchers from SFI and Northwestern team up to create a mathematical model that can describe the hierarchical nature of the circadian system.
Incoming Omidyar Fellow Katrin Schmelz grew up in East Germany, mere kilometers from the border with West Germany. The experience has shaped her research questions into how experiences of state control impact how people respond to other restrictions throughout their lives and how individual behaviors and values coevolve with societal institutions and policies.
The past 20 years have seen rapid changes in our social networks, and our individual behaviors are now maladapted. To respond to these changes as a society, we first need a better understanding of how groups alter their decision-making strategies and beliefs to cope with emerging problems. A September 12–14 workshop, part of SFI’s CounterBalance Series and funded by Siegel Family Foundation, is convening scientists from a range of biological, social, and physical sciences, and senior representatives from civic organizations and the tech industry, to discuss the challenges and potential directions forward.
Hoping to finish the most comprehensive spatial database on medieval and modern Germany, Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow Kerice Doten-Snitker enters SFI intending to weave complexity science into her research. Doten-Snitker’s research explores how the formation of states and institutions pave the way for social constructs of race and ethnicity to emerge. She completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Washington.
Machine-learning tools have powerfully accelerated the process of doing science. They can sort through and analyze vast sums of data, revealing insights and connections about the world never before possible. But could we ever fully automate the scientific process? Could we make an AI physicist? It’s a question that captured Seungwoong Ha, an incoming Applied Complexity Fellow, as a student at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) where he completed his B.S. and integrated M.S. and Ph.D., all in physics.
SFI welcomes Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow Anna Guerrero, whose research focuses on the use of images in biology. She uses a historical and philosophical lens to docuent how biologists use the concept-to-image cycle to learn about the physical world.
External Faculty are central to SFI’s identity as a world-class research institute. They enrich our networks of interactions, help us push the boundaries of complex systems science, and connect us to over 70 institutions around the globe. SFI welcomes eight new External Faculty members.
SFI External Professor André de Roos and Jasper Croll, both based at the University of Amsterdam, won the 2023 Outstanding Paper in Theoretical Ecology award by the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Notably, this year's award is being sponsored by SFI Press.
From the perch of modernity, it is tempting to envision the limbs of the tree of life as inevitable, a steady march toward existence from one generation to the next. Some branches in the tree are shorter than others, of course — tales of extinction, from the asteroid-blasted dinosaurs to the human-blasted passenger pigeon, offer a tragic alternative vision of what life on Earth could look like today. An August working group, “Feasible but Undiscovered Metabolisms II: Thermodynamics, Evolution, and the Origin of Life,” explores spaces of undiscovered life.
From the smallest, micro-scales to large, macro-scales, the workings of many systems can be understood at multiple levels. Growing evidence suggests that the mesoscale, which connects the two extremes, is a good starting point when trying to build an ontology or complete understanding of a system. In a new paper in Philosophy of Science, Julia Bursten (University of Kentucky) and SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Kelle Dhein add to that argument, highlighting the importance of the mesoscale through a case study of modeling insect behavior at multiple scales.
Altruistic behavior often comes at a personal cost, but there are also benefits. The person you help might return the favor directly — tit-for-tat. Or, people might talk about your good deeds, and reciprocity could come via a third party. In a recent paper in Evolution and Human Behavior, SFI Graduate Fellow Victor Odouard and former Applied Complexity Fellow Michael Price explore the communication systems necessary to sustain indirect reciprocity.
When COVID-19 hit, SFI External Professor J. Doyne Farmer (University of Oxford) wanted to use his expertise to help predict how the economy would respond to the emerging pandemic. But the realities of COVID-19 — like so many of the concerns humanity currently faces — didn’t fit neatly into standard economic theory. It meant that he and his colleagues had to build new models based on “complexity economics” to make those predictions.
SFI hosted its first public conference-style event June 20-22 at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The event, which focused on the foundations of collective intelligence and was a combined symposium and short course, drew over 200 in-person attendees and about 150 virtual participants from around the world.
The British Academy announced its list of Fellows for 2023, which included SFI External Professor Wendy Carlin. She was among 52 other distinguished individuals recognized for their significant contributions to research in the humanities and social sciences.