SFI Science Board member and External Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers and colleagues organized a May 17-18 workshop to reimagine how pandemic simulation games can help us prepare for the superbugs of the future, bringing together epidemiologists; military war game specialists; officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and experts in human behavior, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence.
AI and the Barrier of Meaning 2, a workshop held at the Santa Fe Institute on April 24–26, brought together experts working in AI, cognitive science, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, neuroscience, and law. Videos of the talks from the workshop are now available on YouTube. Similar to the first AI and the Barrier of Meaning workshop, held in 2018, the event focused on questions related to “understanding” and what it means to “extract meaning” in a humanlike way.
Information architectures — the rules and norms that govern the spread of information — likely serve a dominant force in shaping society. A May 9–11 workshop met to explore a host of emerging questions around information architectures and their impact on our lives.
Human innovations often arise "ahead of their time," but evolution, we’re told, innovates only in response to environmental conditions. In his new book, Sleeping Beauties: The Mystery of Dormant Innovations in Nature and Culture, SFI External Professor Andreas Wagner urges us to consider another possibility. “What if,” he asks, “many innovations arise before their time,” in nature just as in human culture?
In a new paper in PNAS, Eric Libby, Christopher Kempes, and Jordan Okie take a quantitative approach to begin tackling one of the great mysteries of biology: how eukaryotes arose.
Most people think of a disease outbreak when they hear the word “contagion.” But it’s a concept that extends beyond pathogens. It could be an infectious disease, a fad, an online meme, or even a positive behavior in a population. An April 19–21 workshop will explore the dynamics of interacting contagions.
Understanding higher-order interactions — phenomena that involve three or more entities — can be tricky, says SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow Yuanzhao Zhang. In a new paper in Nature Communications, Zhang and his colleagues show how the choice of network representation can influence the observed effects.
As Covid roared through prisons in 2020, the U.S. prison population fell by as much as 30 percent, creating the largest, fastest reduction in prison population in American history. But this decarceration disproportionately benefited white incarcerated people, sharply increasing the fraction of incarcerated Black and Latino people. A new study in Nature shows that this increased racial disparity in U.S. prisons stems in large part from a long-standing problem with the justice system: Non-white people tend to get longer sentences than white people for the same crimes.
In times of crisis, groups of people respond in a variety of ways — with sometimes vastly different outcomes. A company might be resilient during a recession while another business fails. Some groups refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19, remaining more vulnerable to the virus, while others quickly adopted the new vaccine. Why do some communities and organizations struggle to respond deftly to threats? A new paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface presents a new conceptual framework that could provide answers in the future.
AI research papers typically report only aggregate results, without the granular detail that will allow other researchers to spot important issues like errors in recognizing certain faces on racial and gender lines. In a new paper, SFI Professor Melanie Mitchell and co-authors explore this problem and suggest solutions.
A new study co-authored by SFI Complexity Fellow Daniel Muratore takes a close look at the carbon-to-nitrogen ratios in marine microorganisms, with results that may lead researchers to rethink the role of these microorganisms in the oceanic carbon cycle.
ChatGPT knows how to use the word “tickle” in a sentence but it cannot feel the sensation. Can it then be said to understand the meaning of the word tickle the same way we humans do? In a paper for PNAS, SFI researchers Melanie Mitchell and David C. Krakauer survey the ongoing debate in which AI researchers are teasing apart whether Large Language Models like ChatGPT and Google’s PaLM understand language in any humanlike sense.
A March 15-17 working group brought a complex-systems lens to study the paradox of why human societies have increased in intricacy despite the second law of thermodynamics's wisdom that entropy increases over time.
The specter of information is haunting the sciences. With these words, Wojciech H. Zurek invited fellow scientists to attend the 1989 Santa Fe Institute workshop on which the proceedings volume Complexity, Entropy & the Physics of Information was based. In a two-volume reprint, the SFI Press offers an affordable and accessible update to the original text, with a new preface from attendee Seth Lloyd that contextualizes the significance of this record of a meeting that marked the intersection of information, physics, complexity, and computation.
Does a diversity of species protect ecological communities from invasion? Recent work by SFI External Professor Andreas Wagner takes up this long-standing question for complexity science, at a microscopic scale.