"The concept of stigmergy has been used to analyze self-organizing activities in an ever-widening range of domains, from social insects via robotics and social media to human society. Yet, it is still poorly understood, and as such its full power remains underappreciated. The present paper clarifies the issue by defining stigmergy as a mechanism of indirect coordination in which the trace left by an action in a medium stimulates a subsequent action. It then analyses the fundamental components of the definition: action, agent, medium, trace and coordination. Stigmergy enables complex, coordinated activity without any need for planning, control, communication, simultaneous presence, or even mutual awareness. This makes the concept applicable to a very broad variety of cases, from chemical reactions to individual cognition and Internet-supported collaboration in Wikipedia.
Maybe the issues cities like Melbourne have providing infrastructure to serve developer-led growth suggests a limit to what can be achieved without more widely grounded strategic planning taken out of the hands of politically volatile interests.
Great short summary appropriately looking forward on 45th anniversary of Doug Engelbart's Mother of All Demos rather than backwards. Getting this into more heads remains my motivating challenge more than a quarter century after I found the first clues.
Results show that putting too much effort into controlling such systems may actually make them uncontrollable
Tony Smith's insight:
While this article is largely yet another angle of "discovery" of principles some of us already know all too well, the comment by "postfuture" exposes the way our "business as usual" habits (competitive growth imperatives) produce systems that are particularly prone to runaway effects.
Multiway whammy. Santa Fe research confirms non-linear characteristics of cities due to network effects from increasing social interactions, citing much earlier work of Jane Jacobs who successfully opposed the Lower Manhattan Expressway, originally proposed in 1941 and cancelled in 1962 in the face of community opposition.
Anyone questioning our positioning of Napthine, Mulder and their Dividing Melbourne brief as 1950s throwbacks needs to swallow the obvious close parallels.
To me this is a "Duh!" article—so obvious it shouldn't need to be written. But reality is that it is kicking against the cultural heritage which almost disables evolutionary theory and so has to be argued in narrow passages. Even Galapagos finches make it painfully clear that behavioural change precedes genetic adaptation. Variation is never random, it is exploring possibilities and latching onto those that work. This should not even be news, but it still is. Damn Descartes et al. And double damn primatological chauvanism.
Seeing more and more interconnections between Emergence/Systems/Complexity theory, the old ally knowledge management, and a seemingly newer one: the foresight approach to futures studies. Of course they all have strong histories back to the 1980s and earlier hints, but they seem to now be attractive to the same members of a less elderly generation. Also see connections to Transhumanism and Postmodernism but these may not be as welcome in overly polite/conservative circles.
Recently released video of Long Now Foundation session introduced and moderated by Stuart Brandt and presented by Tim O'Reilly who discusses how evolving technology has disrupted society, and has given birth to the global mind. Aside from some minor colouration by our too common white collar triumphalist perspective which continues to overrate map rather than territory, @timoreilly really hits the important points and adds deeper historic context as to why the purported Singularity will be much more a Plurality, save from the enhanced hazard of eggs all in one basket. Definitely worth the 1 hour 35 minute viewing time, plus a good chunk of reflection beyond that.
"Communities, nations, sectors, industries and more are dealing with greater levels of complexity and diversity of participation. This complexity and diversity, and current collective lack of ability to deal with it, is in many cases around the world creating conflict, dis-ease and holding ‘systems’ back from reaching their potential.
"These systems require support in being able to come together, find mutual understanding, and move forward in a graceful and effective way. Systems diplomacy helps address these challenges and move systems forward."
For once, this is not an attempt to expand the tyranny of paid jobs (for the boys) into territory that requires real life experience and is thus better served by the ageing in voluntary capacities where we can remain answerable only to our own best intentions. In reality, just another blog post, but one which strikes more than one chord.
This underlines the message from broader study of emergence/systems/complecity that the level of resillience of the likes of the late Cretateous planetary ecosystem is only seriously vulnerable to an unlikely coincidence of challenges. But this should also serve a warning that the current and prospective level of human impact on natural systems, despite our efforts to retain token populations and habitats that are obviously endangered, might not stand something else going wrong. It may have even stronger lessons for the fragile global economy trapped in its delusory winner-take-all tide of neoliberal commentariat domination that fantasises its own permanence based on 20-30 years of intermittent triumphalism.
End the Prison-Industrial Complex, Now!CounterPunchThe prison industrial complex is a moral and political crime. It is a class crime. It is also a microcosm of the broader systems of capitalist domination, exploitation and control.
Limits on fundamental limits to computation Nature.com A speedup from runtime polynomial in n to approximately logn can be achieved in an abstract model of computation for matrix multiplication and fast Fourier transforms.
While such limits to computation in our emergent substrate (aka matter) do not deny the hypothesis that the most fundamental processes can be seen as computation (c.f. Wolfram) the existence of hard limits as reported here places a potent limit on the possibility of modelling candidate (Planck scale) processes which underpin our finest grain observables (always mediated by photons).
'The Embarrassment of Complexity' is what unavoidably happens as silos which have externalised more than they sustainably can try to reconnect to tackle real world issues through oversimplified interfaces which ignore non-linearity and worse.
Just when I was starting to enjoy my notional retirement: "This is why what I call competent rebels are needed everywhere: individuals who are able to combine professional capabilities with the fresh, challenging outlook required for progress."
This chapter reviews measures of emergence, self-organization, complexity,homeostasis, and autopoiesis based on information theory. These measures arederived from proposed axioms and tested in two case studies: random Booleannetworks and an Arctic lake ecosystem. Emergence is defined as the information a system or process produces.Self-organization is defined as the opposite of emergence, while complexity isdefined as the balance between emergence and self-organization. Homeostasisreflects the stability of a system. Autopoiesis is defined as the ratio betweenthe complexity of a system and the complexity of its environment. The proposedmeasures can be applied at different scales, which can be studied withmulti-scale profiles.
Regardless of any questions as to the degree information-theoretic metrics are useful and useable at the core of Emergence/Systems/Complexity theory, Fernandez, Maldonado & Gershenson's paper provides a valuable discussion of fundamental concepts across the field. The paper's key claim is that complexity is high not just when there is a balance between order and chaos, an old oversimplification, but also between emergence (in the whole of information not defined in the parts) and self-organisation, each of which is seen more widely as symptomatic of complexity. It is not an entirely unfamilar argument but one easily hidden in the field's Babel-like language.
Lee Smolin is closer to being right about cosmology, i.e. asking the right questions, than anyone else half as prominent. As usual, Edge provides a good platform for expounding ideas and eliciting informed responses, albeit some that are a bit too welded on.
Bogota, Colombia is growing "like a pancake," as Rodrigo Nino, real-estate pioneer, says in the video below. Like other cities around the world, as the population quickly expands, Bogota is expanding outward.
Tony Smith's insight:
This is how people of good will colaboratively escape unintentional strangulation by resurgent government authoritarianism aka administrivial empire building. (Not the only optimistic story to come out of Latin America this morning.)
This might be the best top level guide for turning Emergence/Systems/Complexity theory into productive social practice that I've yet seen.
Can imagine a few creative tensions fleshing out the next level of detail, in particular refining the granularity implicit in "large-scale".
(This in the context of a waking thought that we might be closer than we may want to admit to needing a self-renewing UnConference collective to take over planning and other decision making demands that are stalling under the parasite-laden body of our aged Westminster system.)
Crowdsourcing is usually mindless -- parcelling out microtasks to many people, each of whom contribute a bit of work or perception (often for a few cents). What about combining crowdsourcing and collective intelligence (where each contributor adds a piece of the puzzle, with contributions aggregated and perhaps filtered)? -- Howard
"Personal assistants such as Apple's Siri may be useful, but they are still far from matching the smarts and conversational skills of a real person. Researchers at the University of Rochester have demonstrated a new, potentially better approach that creates a smart artificial chat partner from fleeting contributions from many crowdsourced workers."
Another step on the path to the Plurality where the best of both/all worlds co-operate for better ends than can be envisaged from any Singular perspective. -- TS
A glow worm shines on the dismal (non-)science. "(A) detailed bottom-up model of the housing market shows the bubble in a new light. Unlike conventional top-down models, which show gentle self-correction, (this) ‘agent-based model’ showed the bubble bursting and markets crashing. (It) modelled various policy responses to the housing bubble using real data. Conventional wisdom has been that sustained low interest rates following the 2000 dot-com crash were the primary cause of the housing bubble. But in the model raising the interest rates did not prevent a bubble forming, but tighter regulation of banks almost completely eradicated it.
This suggests better ways to frame economic policy in relation to the housing market. But, in coming years, similar work will undoubtedly highlight ways to improve policy in other areas."
The 2011 Culture@Large session grappled with the pressing importance of the nonhuman for the work of anthropologists. The featured speaker, Dorion Sagan, is an independent scholar and a fascinating thinker, who has written and co-authored a range of books, two of which were written with his mother, biologist Lynn Margulis, a professor at the University of Massachusetts. Sagan’s talk, “The Human is More Than Human: Interspecies Communities and the New ‘Facts of Life’,” was then followed by discussant commentary from Myra Hird, Stefan Helmreich, Kim TallBear, and Agustin Fuentes.