A new study published in Science suggests that E. coli bacteria may have a higher capability to evolve antibiotic resistance than previously believed. Researchers, led by Andreas Wagner, mapped possible mutations in an essential E. coli protein involved in antibiotic resistance and found that 75% of evolutionary paths led to high antibiotic resistance, challenging existing theories about fitness landscapes in evolutionary biology. This discovery may have broader implications for understanding adaptation and evolution in various fields.
The SFI Press has released two updated editions of books that illuminate the Odyssean life of Murray Gell-Mann, a co-founder of SFI and a Nobel laureate. A new printing of Gell-Mann’s The Quark & the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple & The Complex (originally published in 1994) appears in the SFI Press Compass series alongside the second edition of George Johnson’s acclaimed biography Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann & The Revolution in Physics (originally published in 1999).
Creating a comprehensive global map of the complex web of supply chain connections involving millions of companies is essential for informed policymaking and addressing economic and societal challenges. In a recent paper in Science, SFI's Doyne Farmer and Stefan Thurner say this endeavor would require international collaboration among various stakeholders to integrate data and establish secure infrastructure.
The Postdocs in Complexity Conference, launched in 2017 by SFI and the James S. McDonnell Foundation, provides a unique platform for early-career complexity researchers to collaborate, share insights, and build meaningful research networks. The conference has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary interactions among postdocs.
How much do city environments constrain human behavior? What aspects of a city’s organization affect the psychology and mental health of its inhabitants? Scientific theories anchored in psychology that explain how city spaces shape human behavior are sparse. Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow Andrew Stier works at the intersection of psychology and urban science to build theoretical models that examine how individuals and large groups adapt to and design city spaces.
That strong urge many people feel to abide by social norms even when it is individually harmful may have its roots in Darwinian fitness, according to a new study in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. The research uses agent-based modeling to provide an evolutionary mechanism that helps explain what keeps people cooperating even when no one is looking.
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.
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.
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.
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.