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COMPLEXITY

Santa Fe Institute, Michael Garfield

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Far-reaching conversations with a worldwide network of scientists and mathematicians, philosophers and artists developing new frameworks to explain our universe's deepest mysteries. Join host Michael Garfield at the Santa Fe Institute each week to learn about your world and the people who have dedicated their lives to exploring its emergent order: their stories, research, and insights...
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#5 in the Top 100 Mathematics All time chart

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If you’re a human in this century, the odds are overwhelming that you are a city-dweller. These hubs of human cultural activity exert a powerful allure – and most people understand that this appeal is due to some deep link between the density, pace, wealth, and opportunity of cities. But what is a city, really? And why have the vast majority of human beings migrated to these intense and often difficult locations? Cities breed not just ideas but also crime, disease, and inequality. We live amidst a shift in what a normal human life looks and feels like, akin to the transition from our lives as nomadic hunter-gatherers to sedentary farmers — only this time, it is happening before our eyes. How can we cultivate the best that cities offer and minimize the predicaments they pose? A powerful new science of the city has emerged in just the last few years, connecting the metropolis through physics to the properties that govern animal metabolisms, ecological diversity, and economics.

This week’s guest is Luis Bettencourt, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago. We spoke while he was visiting Santa Fe to lead SFI’s Global Sustainability Summer School to talk about what makes a city such a fertile zone for innovation of all kinds, and how to help ensure the future of the city is one human beings want to live in.

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Visit The Mansueto Institute's Website.

Watch a short video on Bettencourt’s work to eliminate slums.

Here are the three papers we discussed in this episode:

"Toward cities without slums: Topology and the spatial evolution of neighborhoods" in Science Advances.

"The Origins of Scaling in Cities" in Science.

Towards a statistical mechanics of cities” in Science Advances.

Learn more about SFI's Global Sustainability Summer School.

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Now, maybe more than ever before, it is time to learn the art of skepticism. Amidst compounded complex crises, humankind must also navigate a swelling tidal wave of outright lies, clever misdirections, and well-meant but dangerous mistaken claims....in other words, bullshit. Why is the 21st Century such a hotbed of fake news? How can we structure our networks and their incentives to mitigate disinformation and encourage speaking truth to power? And whose responsibility is it to inform the public and other experts about scientific research, when those insights require training to understand?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and in each episode we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week, we talk to Former SFI External Professor Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West, both at the University of Washington, who recently translated their landmark undergraduate course on Calling Bullshit into an eminently readable and illuminating book from Penguin Random House. In this episode, we discuss their backgrounds and ongoing work in the evolutionary dynamics and information theory of communication, how to stage a strong defense against disinformation, and the role of scientists and laypeople alike to help restore the reasoned discourse we all so desperately need.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/give, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Related Links & Resources:

CallingBullshit.org

Carl Bergstrom’s Website & Twitter.

Jevin West’s Website & Twitter.

Cost and conflict in animal signals and human language
by Michael Lachmann, Szabolcs Számadó, and Carl T. Bergstrom at PNAS

The physical limits of communication or Why any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from noise
by Michael Lachmann, M.E.J. Newman, Cris Moore in The American Journal of Physics

Deepfakes and the Epistemic Backstop
by Regina Rini at Philosopher’s Imprint

Hunger Game: Is Honesty Between Animals Always the Best Policy?
by Natalie Wolchover at Scientific American

Public Editor by Goodly Labs

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Each of us at some point in our lives will face traumatizing hardship — abuse or injury, lack or loss. And all of us must weather the planetwide effects of this pandemic, economic instability, systemic inequality, and social unrest...and find a way to live on with their consequences. Trauma isn’t evenly distributed. But it IS ubiquitous, and learning how to get on with our lives is one of our main tasks as human beings.

From this hardship grows the best of us: our wisdom, compassion, creativity, and service. By understanding the psychology and neuroscience of the body-mind’s response to trauma, we gain potent insight into how to “live with living without” — how to be both incomplete and whole.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s guest is best-selling author and journalist Laurence Gonzales, a four-time SFI Miller Scholar whose writing has won widespread recognition, including the Montaigne Medal, two National Magazine Awards, two Eric Hoffer Awards, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. In this episode we talk about his book, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience — and the lessons therein for those living in the wake of trauma.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

For more, visit Laurence’s Website & Bibliography.

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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One of the defining characteristics of complex systems science is the shift in emphasis from objects to relationships and processes. How is information related to matter and energy, and how do the distinct formulations of different scientific lineages braid together in a unifying pattern? This search for a more fundamental understanding drives directly into some of the biggest questions science has to ask about the living world — namely, what is life, what is alive, and when did life begin? The Santa Fe Institute has drawn from the deep wells of these questions since the 1980s. In our second episode, Complexity Podcast dove in to explore the origins of life, but even that in-depth conversation left a lot unsaid.

Welcome to Complexity, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield. While we continue our short summer hiatus, here’s a superb interview with the Santa Fe Institute’s newly announced External Professor, Sara Imari Walker of Arizona State University, by Marty Martin and Art Woods, the hosts of the Big Biology Podcast. In this rapid-fire rap from their ninth episode, Sara talks about how physics — and in particular information theory — refocuses the lens through which researchers ask about the nature of living systems and look for signs of life elsewhere in the cosmos. We hope that you enjoy and — after subscribing to Complexity and Big Biology wherever you go for podcasts — follow up with their equally illuminating conversation with SFI External Professor Andy Dobson on disease ecology.

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Sara Walker’s Website

Sara Walker's Google Scholar Page

Complexity Podcast Episode 2 on The Origins of Life at InterPlanetary Festival

Big Biology Podcast Website

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Since the 1940s, scientists have puzzled over a curious finding: armed conflict data reveals that human battles obey a power-law distribution, like avalanches and epidemics. Just like the fractal surfaces of mountains and cauliflowers, the shape of violence looks the same at any level of magnification. Beyond the particulars of why we fight, this pattern suggests a deep hidden order in the physical laws governing society. And, digging into new analyses of data from both armed conflicts and voting patterns, complex systems researchers have started to identify the so-called “pivotal components” — the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the spark that sets a forest fire, the influential (but not always famous) figures that shape history. Can science find a universal theory that predicts the size of conflicts from their initial conditions, or identifies key players whose “knobs” turn society in one direction or another?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s guest is SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Eddie Lee, whose work into “conflict avalanches” and swing voters gives a glimpse of the mysterious forces that determine why we fight — and how we may be able to prevent the next conflagration. In this episode, we talk about armed conflict as a fractal and a form of computation, swing voters in the justice system and influencers in pop culture, and what these studies have to say about the deep constraints that guide the currents of society.

Just a note that this will be our last episode before a short summer break, to give our scientists uninterrupted time to work on a torrent of new research. We have some exciting episodes scheduled for our return in mid-August...in the meantime, please be sure to subscribe to Complexity Podcast on your favorite podcast provider to make sure you stay in the know! And if you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or join our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action.

Lastly, we are excited to announce that submissions are open for this fall’s inaugural Complexity Interactive, a three-week online, project-based immersive course where you get a rare opportunity for mentorship by a large faculty of SFI professors — including Cris Moore, Melanie Mitchell, Simon DeDeo, Danielle Bassett, Luis Bettencourt, Melanie Moses, Ricard Solé, and many more. For more info and to apply, please visit https://santafe.edu/sfi-ci

Thank you for listening!

Eddie Lee’s SFI Webpage & Google Scholar Page

Papers we discuss in this episode:

A scaling theory of armed conflict avalanches

Sensitivity of collective outcomes identifies pivotal components

Emergent regularities and scaling in armed conflict data

Collective memory in primate conflict implied by temporal scaling collapse

Go further:

Time Scales & Tradeoffs, an SFI Flash Workshop [video]

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Transcript coming soon! Thanks for your patience...

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The magnitude of interlocking “wicked problems” we humans face today is daunting...and made all the worse by the widening schisms in our public discourse, the growing prominence of hate speech and prejudicial violence. How can we collaborate at scale if it’s not even safe to act as citizens, to participate in a sufficiently diverse society, without becoming targets? The World Wide Web has made it easier than ever for hate groups to organize...but also grants new power to those willing to oppose the hateful. New tactics such as “counter speech” have sprung up to depolarize society. But do they work? Can organized nonviolent interventions restore civility and save our public spaces? Or does the ensuing arms race only bring our fora closer to collapse?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode features three authors of new research on hate speech and counter speech — SFI Applied Complexity Fellow Joshua Garland, Professor Mirta Galesic, and External Professor Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi — who, along with co-authors Laurent Hébert Dufresne and Jean-Gabriel Young, have discovered patterns in the Twitter data that just might help save the Web. Over the next hour, we’ll discuss how they use AI to classify hate speech and counter speech, what this reveals about the hidden structure of our conversations, and how it offers hope for social media just when we need it most...

To learn more about SFI's work on counter speech, and the new CounterBalance seminar series, please visit santafe.edu/counter.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, we hope you’ll help this show find new listeners by rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

This Week’s Guests:

Joshua Garland

Mirta Galesic (who also appeared on this show for Episode 9)

Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi

Papers we discuss in this episode:

Countering hate on social media: Large scale classification of hate and counter speech

• As-yet-untitled follow-up paper TBA (we will add this link as soon as it's available)

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Is there life on Mars? Or Titan? What are we even looking for? Without a formal definition, inquiries into the stars just echo noise. But then, perhaps, the noise contains a signal... To find life elsewhere in the universe requires us to wager a defined biology, to come to terms with what it means to be alive. Looking out is looking in, to ask the hardest question ever: How do we find something we might not recognize as what we’re seeking?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week we talk to SFI Program Postdoctoral Fellow Natalie Grefenstette, who works with SFI Professor Chris Kempes (whom we spoke to on Episode 17) on the multi-institution, NASA-funded Agnostic Biosignatures Project. Over the next hour we discuss how new approaches to astrobiological research may help science finally define the nature of living systems, and where and how to find them in the cosmos.

For show notes, research links, transcripts, and more, visit complexity.simplecast.com.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/give, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Natalie’s website:
https://nataliegref.weebly.com/

Natalie’s Google Scholar page:
https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=fbHyA3IAAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate

"Adaptive properties of the genetically encoded amino acid alphabet are inherited from its subsets"
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-47574-x.pdf

"Agnostic Approaches to Extant Life Detection"
https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lifeonmars2019/pdf/5026.pdf

"Agnostic Polymer Detection Using Mass Spectrometry for Astrobiological Samples"
https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2020/pdf/2706.pdf

"Mars Extant Life: What's Next? Conference Report"
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/ast.2020.2237

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

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Cities define the modern world. They characterize the human era and its impacts on our planet. By bringing us together, these "social reactors" amplify the best in us: our creativity, efficiency, wealth, and communal ethos. But they also amplify our worst: the incidence of social crimes, the span of inequality, our vulnerability to epidemics. And built into the physics of the city is an accelerating cycle of crisis and innovation that now drives our global economy and ecosystems closer to the edge of existential peril.

Many economists believe that open-ended growth and technological advances can save us from destruction, but the scaling laws that describe the evolution of the city seem to suggest the opposite: that we are on an ever-faster treadmill and can only jump to even faster treadmills, until our unchecked growth precipitates collapse. Are we on a super-exponential runway to abundance, or are we trapped in a kind of test of our ability to understand our constraints and steward our limited resources?

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode is part two of a two-part conversation with Geoffrey West, a physicist, Distinguished Shannan Professor and former President of the Santa Fe Institute.

In part one we set the stage for a deep, difficult examination of our current complex crises by reviewing some key revelations from his book, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. In this week’s episode, we tackle the question of open-ended growth and whether complex systems science offers any insight into the design of a sustainable economy.

Note that these episodes were taped before the murder of George Floyd, and now seem both strangely out-of-date and uncannily prophetic. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for conversations more directly touching on race, bias, inequality, polarization, counterspeech, and trauma, and follow us on social media for timely coverage of the science helping guide society toward fairer and saner outcomes.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive, or joining our Applied Complexity Network at santafe.edu/action. Also, please consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Listening & Reading:

Geoffrey West’s Wikipedia & Google Scholar Pages

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

COMPLEXITY 04: Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities

COMPLEXITY 10: Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation

COMPLEXITY 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
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We’re living through a unique moment in history. The interlocking crises of a global pandemic, widespread unemployment, social unrest, and climate change, show us just how far human civilization has traveled along a path that leads to collapse. It is more crucial than ever to seek a deeper understanding of the systems that sustain us, and the thin layer of life on the surface of our planet. What are the underlying laws that govern how we live together and as individuals? How do our economies and cities grow? How are the human and non-human worlds related? And can we solve the problems we’ve created when we’re quarantined from one another?

By identifying the basic cardiovascular and nervous systems of human societies, we may one day be able to cure some of the complex diseases of civilization and found a new, sustainable mode of existence.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

This week’s episode is part one of a two-part conversation with Geoffrey West, a physicist, Distinguished Shannan Professor, and former president of the Santa Fe Institute.

In it we set the stage for a deep, difficult examination of the existential threats we’re facing by reviewing some key revelations from his book, Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies. In next week’s episode, we tackle the question of open-ended growth and whether complex systems science offers any insight into the design of a sustainable economy.

Note that these episodes were taped before the murder of George Floyd, and now seem both strangely out-of-date and uncannily prophetic. Stay tuned in the weeks to come for conversations more directly touching on race, bias, inequality, polarization, counterspeech, and trauma, and follow us on social media for timely coverage of the science helping guide society toward fairer and saner outcomes.

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive ... and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!

Further Listening & Reading:

Geoffrey West’s Wikipedia & Google Scholar Pages
Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West
COMPLEXITY 04: Luis Bettencourt on The Science of Cities
COMPLEXITY 10: Melanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & Computation
COMPLEXITY 17: Chris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on Life & Evolution

Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.

Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.

Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.

Follow us on social media:
TwitterYouTubeFacebookInstagramLinkedIn

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Whether you live in the USA or have just been watching the circus from afar, chances are that you agree: “polarization” dominates descriptions of the social landscape. Judging from the news alone, one might think the States have never been so painfully divided...yet nuanced public polls, and new behavioral models, suggest another narrative: the United States is largely moderate, and people have much more in common with each other than they think. There’s no denying our predicament: cognitive biases lead us to “out-group” one another even when we might be allies, and the game of politics drives a two-party system into ever-more-intense division, until something has to give. But the same evidence from social science offers hope, that we might find a way to harness our collective thinking processes for the sake of everyone and row together toward a future big enough to hold our disagreements.

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.

In this episode we talk to SFI External Professor Henrik Olsson and SFI Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow, Omidyar Fellow, and Baird Hurst Scholar Vicky C. Yang about their work on social cognition and political identity. In a conversation that couldn’t be more timely, we ask: How can we leverage an understanding of networks for better political polling and prediction? What are the meaningful differences between one’s values and one’s affiliations? And is the American two-party system working for or against a cohesive republic?

If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at santafe.edu/give — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at santafe.edu/engage. Thank you for listening!

Henrik’s Google Scholar Page

Vicky’s Google Scholar Page

Research we discuss in this episode:

Falling Through the Cracks: A Dynamical Model for the Formation of In-Groups and Out-Groups

A Sampling Model of Social Judgment

Harvesting the wisdom of crowds for election predictions using the Bayesian Truth Serum

Why are U.S. Parties So Polarized? A "Satisficing" Dynamical Model

Do two parties represent the US? Clustering analysis of US public ideology survey

Project Page for the SFI-USC Dornslife Polling Research Collaboration

For more on social cognition and collective decision-making, listen to COMPLEXITY episodes 9 with Mirta Galesic and 20 with Albert Kao.

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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano

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