It is commonly believed that information spreads between individuals like a pathogen, with each exposure by an informed friend potentially resulting in a naive individual becoming infected. However, empirical studies of social media suggest that individual response to repeated exposure to information is significantly more complex than the prediction of the pathogen model. As a proxy for intervention experiments, we compare user responses to multiple exposures on two different social media sites, Twitter and Digg. We show that the position of the exposing messages on the user-interface strongly affects social contagion. Accounting for this visibility significantly simplifies the dynamics of social contagion. The likelihood an individual will spread information increases monotonically with exposure, while explicit feedback about how many friends have previously spread it increases the likelihood of a response. We apply our model to real-time forecasting of user behavior.
The Simple Rules of Social Contagion Nathan O. Hodas, Kristina Lerman
Controlling self-organizing systems is challenging because the system responds to the controller. Here, we develop a model that captures the essential self-organizing mechanisms of Bak-Tang-Wiesenfeld (BTW) sandpiles on networks, a self-organized critical (SOC) system. This model enables studying a simple control scheme that determines the frequency of cascades and that shapes systemic risk. We show that optimal strategies exist for generic cost functions and that controlling a subcritical system may drive it to criticality. This approach could enable controlling other self-organizing systems.
Controlling Self-Organizing Dynamics on Networks Using Models that Self-Organize
Pierre-André Noël, Charles D. Brummitt, and Raissa M. D’Souza
Have you ever wondered where you or your children may be living in 2050? Experts predict that by then three-quarters of the world's population will live in cities. This August and September the BBC is taking a look at how our lives will be changed by the technological innovations being developed for Tomorrow’s Cities.
Global environmental change is affecting species distribution and their interactions with other species. In particular, the main drivers of environmental change strongly affect the strength of interspecific interactions with considerable consequences to biodiversity. However, extrapolating the effects observed on pair-wise interactions to entire ecological networks is challenging. Here we propose a framework to estimate the tolerance to changes in the strength of mutualistic interaction that species in mutualistic networks can sustain before becoming extinct. We identify the scenarios where generalist species can be the least tolerant. We show that the least tolerant species across different scenarios do not appear to have uniquely common characteristics. Species tolerance is extremely sensitive to the direction of change in the strength of mutualistic interaction, as well as to the observed mutualistic trade-offs between the number of partners and the strength of the interactions.
Estimating the tolerance of species to the effects of global environmental change Serguei Saavedra, Rudolf P. Rohr, Vasilis Dakos, Jordi Bascompte
The focused organization theory of social ties proposes that the structure of human social networks can be arranged around extra-network foci, which can include shared physical spaces such as homes, workplaces, restaurants, and so on. Until now, this has been difficult to investigate on a large scale, but the huge volume of data available from online location-based social services now makes it possible to examine the friendships and mobility of many thousands of people, and to investigate the relationship between meetings at places and the structure of the social network. In this paper, we analyze a large dataset from Foursquare, the most popular online location-based social network. We examine the properties of city-based social networks, finding that they have common structural properties, and that the category of place where two people meet has very strong influence on the likelihood of their being friends. Inspired by these observations in combination with the focused organization theory, we then present a model to generate city-level social networks, and show that it produces networks with the structural properties seen in empirical data.
A place-focused model for social networks in cities Chloë Brown, Anastasios Noulas, Cecilia Mascolo, Vincent Blondel
The hypothesis of a Hierarchy of the Sciences, first formulated in the 19th century, predicts that, moving from simple and general phenomena (e.g. particle dynamics) to complex and particular (e.g. human behaviour), researchers lose ability to reach theoretical and methodological consensus. This hypothesis places each field of research along a continuum of complexity and “softness”, with profound implications for our understanding of scientific knowledge. Today, however, the idea is still unproven and philosophically overlooked, too often confused with simplistic dichotomies that contrast natural and social sciences, or science and the humanities. Empirical tests of the hypothesis have usually compared few fields and this, combined with other limitations, makes their results contradictory and inconclusive. We verified whether discipline characteristics reflect a hierarchy, a dichotomy or neither, by sampling nearly 29,000 papers published contemporaneously in 12 disciplines and measuring a set of parameters hypothesised to reflect theoretical and methodological consensus. The biological sciences had in most cases intermediate values between the physical and the social, with bio-molecular disciplines appearing harder than zoology, botany or ecology. In multivariable analyses, most of these parameters were independent predictors of the hierarchy, even when mathematics and the humanities were included. These results support a “gradualist” view of scientific knowledge, suggesting that the Hierarchy of the Sciences provides the best rational framework to understand disciplines' diversity. A deeper grasp of the relationship between subject matter's complexity and consensus could have profound implications for how we interpret, publish, popularize and administer scientific research.
LE NOSTRE AZIONI SONO COME TEMPESTE Le nostre azioni corrispondono alle modalità di propagazione delle tempeste, delle epidemie, delle sommosse: a periodi di quiete, persino di stasi, si alternano ...
Marinella De Simone's insight:
Il classico approccio di organizzazione del lavoro, ad esempio, prevede tradizionalmente lo schema: “First in, first out” o “First come, first served”: il primo della fila nei compiti da eseguire è il primo che viene svolto. Questo schema, agevole nei sistemi meccanizzati, non lo è affatto nei comportamenti umani. Noi prendiamo decisioni nelle modalità di svolgimento dei compiti assegnati – laddove abbiamo possibilità di decidere in autonomia – molto meno lineari: alcuni compiti da svolgere possono aspettare tempi lunghissimi, per poi essere svolti tutti insieme in un lasso di tempo estremamente breve e concentrato.
Questa nuova prospettiva, fondata sull’analisi della dinamica dei comportamenti umani (e non solo) sarebbe molto importante applicarla ad esempio nell’analisi del decision making che le persone applicano in ambito lavorativo sulla priorità dei compiti da svolgere, poiché un’organizzazione dei tempi di lavoro che non ne tenga conto si scontra necessariamente con le modalità a noi più naturali di agire nel vivere quotidiano.
Identità personale ed Interdipendenza tra Complessità e Buddhismo L’emergere del proprio mondo interiore risulta qualcosa di impalpabile e di non concretamente definibile: dove inizia il proprio sé rispetto a ciò che è considerato come altro?
Marinella De Simone's insight:
L’emergere del proprio mondo interiore, della propria identità, è in relazione circolare con l’emergere della propria realtà, dell’altro da sé: è come un processo di riallineamento continuo, in cui la propria identità non può essere definita aprioristicamente e separatamente come fosse qualcosa di definito una volta per tutte, né tantomeno come qualcosa di reificabile, quanto piuttosto come un processo di continua trasformazione, in una co-definizione tra il sé, la propria identità, e l’identità dell’altro.
1st CSSM FOCUS «DECISION MAKING IN CONTESTI COMPLESSI» Il system business è ogni giorno più confuso ed imprevedibile. E’ sempre più difficile assumere decisioni efficaci ed è sempre più incerto ...
Marinella De Simone's insight:
1ST COMPLEXITY MANAGEMENT SUMMER SCHOOL dal 25 Luglio al 4 Agosto 2013 a Spoleto - Italy
il Complexity Institute, in partnership con l'Università SUPSI di Lugano, la Newton Gruppo Sole 24 Ore e il Complexity Education Project dell'Università Sapienza di Roma, propone ai propri associati una vacanza-lavoro di alta formazione sul “Decision Making in contesti complessi”, destinata a Manager, Professionisti e Studiosi che desiderano comprendere e praticare il pensiero complesso.
Twitter, even more than many other social media tools, can feel disconnected from the real world. But a group of students and professors at research site Floating Sheep have built a comprehensive map of some of Twitter's most distasteful content: the racist, homophobic, or ableist slurs that can proliferate online. Called Geography of Hate, the interactive map charts ten relatively common slurs across the continental US, either by general category or individually. Looking at the whole country, you'll often see a mass of red or what the map's creators call a "blue smog of hate." Zooming in, however, patches appear over individual regions or cities; some may be predictable, while others are not.
Life on Earth is perhaps greater than three and a half billion years old and it would appear that once it started it never stopped. During this period a number of dramatic shocks and drivers have affected the Earth. These include the impacts of massive asteroids, runaway climate change and increases in brightness of the Sun. Has life on Earth simply been lucky in withstanding such perturbations? Are there any self-regulating or homeostatic processes operating in the Earth system that would reduce the severity of such perturbations? If such planetary processes exist, to what extent are they the result of the actions of life? In this study, we show how the regulation of environmental conditions can emerge as a consequence of life's effects. If life is both affected by and affects it environment, then this coupled system can self-organise into a robust control system that was first described during the early cybernetics movement around the middle of the twentieth century. Our findings are in principle applicable to a wide range of real world systems - from microbial mats to aquatic ecosystems up to and including the entire biosphere.
When the Internet was first starting to catch on in the 1980s, I was invited, as a representative of a large business consulting organization, to a day-long seminar explaining what this new phenomenon was and how businesses should be responding to it. It was led by a man who now makes millions as a social media guru (I won’t embarrass him by identifying him), but at the time he warned that the Internet had no future. The reason, he said, was that it was “anarchic” — there was no management, no control, no way of fixing things quickly if they got “out of hand”. The solution, he said, was for business and government leaders to get together and create an orderly alternative — “Internet 2″ he called it — that would replace the existing Internet when it inevitably imploded. Of course, he couldn’t have been more wrong.
In engineering, uncertainty is usually as welcome as sand in a salad. The development of digital technologies, from the alphabet to the DVD, has been driven in large part by the desire to eliminate random fluctuations, or noise, inherent in analog systems like speech or VHS tapes. But randomness also has a special ability to make some systems work better. Here are five cases where a little chaos is a critical part of the plan (...)
Nowadays, any organization should employ network scientists/analysts who are able to map and analyse complex systems that are of importance to the organization (e.g. the organization itself, its activities, a country’s economic activities, transportation networks, research networks). Interconnectivity is beneficial but also brings in vulnerability: if you and I are connected we can share resources; meanwhile your problems can become mine and vice versa. The concept of “crystallized imagination” refers to things that are first in our head and then become reality. This concept can be turned into network applied research on economic complexity of a country’s economic activities and development prospects.
Self-organization of heterogeneous particle swarms is rich in its dynamics but hard to design in a traditional top-down manner, especially when many types of kinetically distinct particles are involved. In this chapter, we discuss how we have been addressing this problem by (1) utilizing and enhancing interactive evolutionary design methods and (2) realizing spontaneous evolution of self organizing swarms within an artificial ecosystem.
Guiding Designs of Self-Organizing Swarms: Interactive and Automated Approaches Hiroki Sayama
Understanding of the mechanisms driving our daily face-to-face encounters is still limited; the field lacks large-scale datasets describing both individual behaviors and their collective interactions. However, here, with the help of travel smart card data, we uncover such encounter mechanisms and structures by constructing a time-resolved in-vehicle social encounter network on public buses in a city (about 5 million residents). Using a population scale dataset, we find physical encounters display reproducible temporal patterns, indicating that repeated encounters are regular and identical. On an individual scale, we find that collective regularities dominate distinct encounters’ bounded nature. An individual’s encounter capability is rooted in his/her daily behavioral regularity, explaining the emergence of “familiar strangers” in daily life. Strikingly, we find individuals with repeated encounters are not grouped into small communities, but become strongly connected over time, resulting in a large, but imperceptible, small-world contact network or “structure of co-presence” across the whole metropolitan area. Revealing the encounter pattern and identifying this large-scale contact network are crucial to understanding the dynamics in patterns of social acquaintances, collective human behaviors, and—particularly—disclosing the impact of human behavior on various diffusion/spreading processes.
Understanding metropolitan patterns of daily encounters Lijun Sun, Kay W. Axhausen, Der-Horng Lee, and Xianfeng Huang
It is widely believed that theory is useful in physics because it describes simple systems and that strictly empirical phenomenological approaches are necessary for complex biological and social systems. Here we prove based upon an analysis of the information that can be obtained from experimental observations that theory is even more essential in the understanding of complex systems. Implications of this proof revise the general understanding of how we can understand complex systems including the behaviorist approach to human behavior, problems with testing engineered systems, and medical experimentation for evaluating treatments and the FDA approval of medications. Each of these approaches are inherently limited in their ability to characterize real world systems due to the large number of conditions that can affect their behavior. Models are necessary as they can help to characterize behavior without requiring observations for all possible conditions. The testing of models by empirical observations enhances the utility of those observations. For systems for which adequate models have not been developed, or are not practical, the limitations of empirical testing lead to uncertainty in our knowledge and risks in individual, organizational and social policy decisions. These risks should be recognized and inform our decisions.
The Limits of Phenomenology: From Behaviorism to Drug Testing and Engineering Design Yaneer Bar-Yam
Cooperation among species tends to result in mutualistic networks with a nested structure, which is thought to increase biodiversity and persistence but may be less stable than unstructured networks: here nested networks are shown to result from a mechanism that maximizes species abundances in mutualistic communities, and the abundance of nested species is found to be directly linked to the resilience of the community.
Emergence of structural and dynamical properties of ecological mutualistic networks Samir Suweis, Filippo Simini, Jayanth R. Banavar & Amos Maritan
This presentation is part of the WikiSym + OpenSym 2013 program. Michael Gilbert, Jonathan Morgan, David McDonald, Mark Zachry. In online groups, increasing explicit coordination can increase group cohesion and ...
Complexity, Intelligence, and How to Ignore the Meaning of Life Huffington Post Theo Jansen is a remarkable artist, engineer and visionary.
Marinella De Simone's insight:
"Nobel prize-winning scientist Herb Simon famously asked the question, what makes life seem complex? Is the animal inherently sophisticated, or is the animal's behavior just an elementary rhythm beating in a very complex echo chamber? Consider an ant on the beach, seeking to reach its food source. If you map its path along the sand, it would appear to be a circuitous route. Perhaps that apparent complexity is only the result of the ant's simple reactions to a complex beach environment. Simon's thesis: what if all animal behavior has this property? Perhaps our own apparent sophistication and intelligence has more to do with our environmental stimuli than with our disembodied selves. This idea curses the Artificial Intelligence inventor who is content to create a thinking brain in a box: if complexity stems from the contingencies of the environment, then true intelligence must be embedded- directly coupled into the physical world; so much for brains in a bottle."
Flies are among the most agile flying creatures on Earth. To mimic this aerial prowess in a similarly sized robot requires tiny, high-efficiency mechanical components that pose miniaturization challenges governed by force-scaling laws, suggesting unconventional solutions for propulsion, actuation, and manufacturing. To this end, we developed high-power-density piezoelectric flight muscles and a manufacturing methodology capable of rapidly prototyping articulated, flexure-based sub-millimeter mechanisms. We built an 80-milligram, insect-scale, flapping-wing robot modeled loosely on the morphology of flies. Using a modular approach to flight control that relies on limited information about the robot’s dynamics, we demonstrated tethered but unconstrained stable hovering and basic controlled flight maneuvers. The result validates a sufficient suite of innovations for achieving artificial, insect-like flight.
Controlled Flight of a Biologically Inspired, Insect-Scale Robot Kevin Y. Ma, Pakpong Chirarattananon, Sawyer B. Fuller, Robert J. Wood
We make use of information provided in the titles and abstracts of over half a million publications that were published by the American Physical Society during the past 119 years. By identifying all unique words and phrases and determining their monthly usage patterns, we obtain quantifiable insights into the trends of physics discovery from the end of the 19th century to today. We show that the magnitudes of upward and downward trends yield heavy-tailed distributions, and that their emergence is due to the Matthew effect. This indicates that both the rise and fall of scientific paradigms is driven by robust principles of self-organization. Data also confirm that periods of war decelerate scientific progress, and that the later is very much subject to globalization.
Self-organization of progress across the century of physics
A small but growing number of people are finding interesting parallels between ecosystems as studied by ecologists (think of a Savanna or the Amazon rain forest or a Coral reef) and tumours1-3. The idea of viewing cancer from an ecological perspective has many implications but fundamentally, it means that we should not see cancer just as a group of mutated cells. A more useful definition of cancer is to consider it a disruption in the complex balance of many interacting cellular and microenvironmental elements in a specific organ. This perspective means that organs undergoing carcinogenesis should be seen as sophisticated ecosystems in homeostasis that cancer cells can disrupt. It also makes cancer seem even more complex but may ultimately provides isights that make it more treatable. Here we discuss how ecological principles can be used to better understand cancer progression and treatment, using several mathematical and computational models to illustrate our argument.
Exploiting ecological principles to better understand cancer progression and treatment