This may be the beginning of the next economic crisis.— César A. Hidalgo (@cesifoti) March 9, 2020
During the last 72 hours:
-Oil Prices went down 20%
-FTSE (UK), DAX (Germany) down 7%
-S&P Futures down 5%
-Russian Rubble Devaluates 10% overnight
Here, a few things worth remembering: (1/N)
This explains our proposal for a new generation of the Web, which we call The Unitive Web. Currently, there is a growing movement from the independence of the web, towards dominant companies. These companies offer organized information, but this comes at a price. We lose our independence more and more. The Unitive Web is a proposal to have both organized information and independence. It offers one generic approach closely compatible with the current web, which makes it possible to create a global open virtual space of information that is responsive and reliable. It offers open customization of user interaction, open bottom-up schema mapping, integration of (AI) algorithms, and facilitates in the protection of privacy. Kickstarter project will be launched if/when there is some interest first.
I only got about halfway through this watching at 1.5x. I’m purposely not embedding the video.
Some of the basic ideas about complexity theory are intriguing here, but it feels more like they’re trying to ground their ideas in solid science when they likely don’t have the proper grounding. I can’t help but thinking about Claude Shannon’s article The Bandwagon and seeing the same things that happened with information theory now taking place with complexity theory.
They’re also proposing a huge amount of infrastructure that is tenuous at best. I’m more than happy to await a minimal example before considering this further.
It almost kills me that they can’t be bothered to create a Kickstarter without “further interest.”
A new way of understanding climate change and other phenomena.
We are obliged to do something about them, because we can think them. ❧
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 08:56AM
It’s very difficult to talk about something you cannot see or touch, yet we are obliged to do so, since global warming affects us all. ❧
It’s also difficult to interact with those things when we’re missing the words and vocabulary to talk about them intelligently.
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 09:00AM
Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University in Houston. He is the author of Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality and Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End Of The World. ❧
want to read these
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 10:10AM
Or global warming. I can’t see or touch it. What I can see and touch are these raindrops, this snow, that sunburn patch on the back of my neck. I can touch the weather. But I can’t touch climate. So someone can declare: “See! It snowed in Boise, Idaho, this week. That means there’s no global warming!” We can’t directly see global warming, because it’s not only really widespread and really really long-lasting (100,000 years); it’s also super high-dimensional. It’s not just 3-D. It’s an incredibly complex entity that you have to map in what they call a high-dimensional- phase space: a space that plots all the states of a system. In so doing, we are only following the strictures of modern science, laid down by David Hume and underwritten by Immanuel Kant. Science can’t directly point to causes and effects: That would be metaphysical, equivalent to religious dogma. It can only see correlations in data. This is because, argues Kant, there is a gap between what a thing is and how it appears (its “phenomena”) that can’t be reduced, no matter how hard we try. We can’t locate this gap anywhere on or inside a thing. It’s a transcendental gap. Hyperobjects force us to confront this truth of modern science and philosophy. ❧
A short, and very cogent argument here.
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 10:07AM
On objects and slices; on design systems and scale.
Robin brings a helpful name to this problem, by way of the philosopher Timothy Morton: hyperobject. A hyperobject is an entity whose scale is too big, too sprawling for any single person to fully appreciate their scale. Climate change, financial markets, socioeconomic classes, design systems—they’re systems we move through, but their scale dwarfs our own. ❧
Hyperobject is an interesting neologism and concept
Annotated on January 15, 2020 at 08:47AM
Personal news: I'm excited to announce that, starting in February, I will be in residence at the Santa Fe Institute for one year, as the inaugural Davis Professor of Complexity. I'm thrilled for this opportunity to work more closely with all the brilliant people at @sfiscience. pic.twitter.com/sjQ0QxiZGB— Melanie Mitchell (@MelMitchell1) January 3, 2020
OCTOBER 9TH, 2019 | 55:37
A few years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, upsetting centuries of certainty about the history of life, he wrote a now-famous letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker, British botanist and advocate of evolutionary theory. "But if (and oh what a big if),” Darwin’s letter reads, “we could conceive in some warm little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity etcetera present, that a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes.”
That was 1871. Nearly 150 years hence, humankind has worked out the details of the evolutionary process to exquisite depth and resolution, but abiogenesis - the origins of life - remains one of the greatest mysteries of our world. Fierce theoretical debates rage on between those who think life got its start in deep sea hydrothermal vents and those who think it started in “some warm little pond” – not to mention more heterodox hypotheses. The consequences are enormous – shaping plans for interplanetary exploration, changing our approach to medicine, and maybe foremost, settling the existential question of what life is in the first place.
This week’s episode was recorded live at the Santa Fe Institute’s InterPlanetary Festival in June 2019. The panel features evolutionary theorist David Krakauer, President of SFI; biochemist Sarah Maurer, Assistant Professor at Central Connecticut State University; and SFI Professor Chris Kempes, who works on biological scaling laws. In this discussion, we present a spectrum of perspectives on the origins of life debate, and speak to the importance of presenting this unsettled science as itself an evolutionary object...
Visit our website for more information or to support our science and communication efforts.
We definitely need a better definition of life. I’ve got a version brewing based on work in the area of big history, but it still needs some refining.
President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems
For 300 years, the dream of science was to understand the world by chopping it up into pieces. But boiling everything down to basic parts does not tell us about the way those parts behave together. Physicists found the atom, then the quark, and yet these great discoveries don’t answer age-old questions about life, intelligence, or language, innovation, ecosystems, or economies.
So people learned a new trick – not just taking things apart but studying how things organize themselves, without a plan, in ways that cannot be predicted. A new field, complex systems science, sprang up to explain and navigate a world beyond control.
At the same time, improvements in computer processing enabled yet another method for exploring irreducible complexity: we learned to instrumentalize the evolutionary process, forging machine intelligences that can correlate unthinkable amounts of data. And the Internet’s explosive growth empowered science at scale, in networks and with resources we could not have imagined in the 1900s. Now there are different kinds of science, for different kinds of problems, and none of them give us the kind of easy answers we were hoping for.
This is a daring new adventure of discovery for anyone prepared to jettison the comfortable categories that served us for so long. Our biggest questions and most wicked problems call for a unique and planet-wide community of thinkers, willing to work on massive and synthetic puzzles at the intersection of biology and economics, chemistry and social science, physics and cognitive neuroscience.
For all of you waiting with bated breath! ALife 2020 Keynote Speaker Announcement #2: Melanie Mitchell @MelMitchell1 Who is a living legend in Complex Systems & has a brand new book out, "Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans." http://vermontcomplexsystems.org/events/ALIFE-2020/ #Alife2020 pic.twitter.com/WIRQbuuZ2G— ALIFE Conference 2020 (@ALifeConf) December 3, 2019
Maxwell’s Demon is a famous thought experiment in which a mischievous imp uses knowledge of the velocities of gas molecules in a box to decrease the entropy of the gas, which could then be used to do useful work such as pushing a piston. This is a classic example of converting information (what the gas molecules are doing) into work. But of course that kind of phenomenon is much more widespread — it happens any time a company or organization hires someone in order to take advantage of their know-how. César Hidalgo has become an expert in this relationship between information and work, both at the level of physics and how it bubbles up into economies and societies. Looking at the world through the lens of information brings new insights into how we learn things, how economies are structured, and how novel uses of data will transform how we live.
César Hidalgo received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Notre Dame. He currently holds an ANITI Chair at the University of Toulouse, an Honorary Professorship at the University of Manchester, and a Visiting Professorship at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. From 2010 to 2019, he led MIT’s Collective Learning group. He is the author of Why Information Grows and co-author of The Atlas of Economic Complexity. He is a co-founder of Datawheel, a data visualization company whose products include the Observatory of Economic Complexity.
I was also piqued at the mention of Lynne Kelly’s work, which I’m now knee deep into. I suspect it could dramatically expand on what we think of as the capacity of a personbyte, though the limit of knowledge there still exists. The idea of mnemotechniques within indigenous cultures certainly expands on the way knowledge worked in prehistory and what we classically think of and frame collective knowledge or collective learning.
I also think there are some interesting connections with Dr. Kelly’s mentions of social equity in prehistorical cultures and the work that Hidalgo mentions in the middle of the episode.
There are a small handful of references I’ll want to delve into after hearing this, though it may take time to pull them up unless they’re linked in the show notes.
hat-tip: Complexity Digest for the reminder that this is in my podcatcher. 🔖 November 22, 2019 at 03:28PM
When you worry students won’t understand an assignment, the answer is often not to add more instructions, but to take instructions away.— Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer) November 14, 2019
Mikah Sargent speaks with David Weinberger, author of Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility about how AI, big data, and the internet are all revealing that the world is vastly more complex and unpredictable than we've allowed ourselves to see and how we're getting acculturated to these machines based on chaos.
Twitter started out like this in some sense, but ultimately closed itself off–likely to its own detriment.
Make. More. Future.
Artificial intelligence, big data, modern science, and the internet are all revealing a fundamental truth: The world is vastly more complex and unpredictable than we've allowed ourselves to see.
Now that technology is enabling us to take advantage of all the chaos it's revealing, our understanding of how things happen is changing--and with it our deepest strategies for predicting, preparing for, and managing our world. This affects everything, from how we approach our everyday lives to how we make moral decisions and how we run our businesses.
Take machine learning, which makes better predictions about weather, medical diagnoses, and product performance than we do--but often does so at the expense of our understanding of how it arrived at those predictions. While this can be dangerous, accepting it is also liberating, for it enables us to harness the complexity of an immense amount of data around us. We are also turning to strategies that avoid anticipating the future altogether, such as A/B testing, Minimum Viable Products, open platforms, and user-modifiable video games. We even take for granted that a simple hashtag can organize unplanned, leaderless movements such as #MeToo.
Through stories from history, business, and technology, philosopher and technologist David Weinberger finds the unifying truths lying below the surface of the tools we take for granted--and a future in which our best strategy often requires holding back from anticipating and instead creating as many possibilities as we can. The book’s imperative for business and beyond is simple: Make. More. Future.
The result is a world no longer focused on limitations but optimized for possibilities.
César Hidalgo has a radical suggestion for fixing our broken political system: automate it! In this provocative talk, he outlines a bold idea to bypass politicians by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives that participate directly in democratic decisions. Explore a new way to make collective decisions and expand your understanding of democracy.
“It’s not a communication problem, it’s a cognitive bandwidth problem.”—César Hidalgo
He’s definitely right about the second part, but it’s also a communication problem because most of political speech is nuanced toward the side of untruths and covering up facts and potential outcomes to represent the outcome the speaker wants. There’s also far too much of our leaders saying “Do as I say (and attempt to legislate) and not as I do.” Examples include things like legislators working to actively take away things like abortion or condemn those who are LGBTQ when they actively do those things for themselves or their families or live out those lifestyles in secret.
“One of the reasons why we use Democracy so little may be because Democracy has a very bad user interface and if we improve the user interface of democracy we might be able to use it more.”—César Hidalgo
This is an interesting idea, but definitely has many pitfalls with respect to how we know AI systems currently work. We’d definitely need to start small with simpler problems and build our way up to the more complex. However, even then, I’m not so sure that the complexity issues could ultimately be overcome. On it’s face it sounds like he’s relying too much on the old “clockwork” viewpoint of phyiscs, though I know that obviously isn’t (or couldn’t be) his personal viewpoint. There’s a lot more pathways for this to become a weapon of math destruction currently than the utopian tool he’s envisioning.