Many of the threats the United States faces, and many of the means available to counter them, are embedded in webs of complex systems-from the transportation networks to the electrical grids.The responsibilities of the DHS include making the...
As machines take on more jobs, many find themselves out of work or with raises indefinitely postponed. Is this the end of growth? No, says Erik Brynjolfsson -- it’s simply the growing pains of a radically reorganized economy. A riveting case for why big innovations are ahead of us … if we think of computers as our teammates. Be sure to watch the opposing viewpoint from Robert Gordon.
But those secrets were hidden for decades. Science, in general, is a lot better at breaking complex things into tiny parts than it is at figuring out how tiny parts turn into complex things. When it came to figuring out collectives, nobody had the methods or the math.
The Nature of Consciousness: How the Internet Could Learn to Feel “The average human brain has a hundred billion neurons and synapses on the order of a hundred trillion or so. But it’s not just sheer...
Ever since Darwin a great deal of the conceptual history of biology may be read as a struggle between two philosophical positions: reductionism and holism. On the one hand, we have the reductionist claim that evolution has to be understood in terms of changes at the fundamental causal level of the gene. As Richard Dawkins famously put it, organisms are just ‘lumbering robots’ in the service of their genetic masters. On the other hand, there is a long holistic tradition that focuses on the complexity of developmental systems, on the non-linearity of gene– environment interactions, and on multi-level selective processes to argue that the full story of biology is a bit more complicated than that. Reductionism can marshal on its behalf the spectacular successes of genetics and molecular biology throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Holism has built on the development of entirely new disciplines and conceptual frameworks over the past few decades, including evo-devo and phenotypic plasticity. Yet, a number of biologists are still actively looking for a way out of the reductionism–holism counterposition, often mentioning the word ‘emergence’ as a way to deal with the conundrum. This paper briefly examines the philosophical history of the concept of emergence, distinguishes between epistemic and ontological accounts of it, and comments on conceptions of emergence that can actually be useful for practising evolutionary biologists.
Between holism and reductionism: a philosophical primer on emergence Massimo Pigliucci Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (2013)
(...) we are now living in a strongly coupled and strongly interdependent world, which poses new challenges. While it is probably unrealistic to go back beyond the level of networking and globalization we have reached, there is a great potential to develop new management approaches for our complex world based on suitable interaction rules and adaptive concepts, using real-time measurements.
A few years ago, Hawking was asked what he thought of the common opinion that the twentieth century was that of biology and the twenty-first century would be that of physics. Hawking replied that in his opinion the twenty-first century would be the “century of complexity”. That remark probably holds more useful advice for contemporary students than they realize since it points to at least two skills which are going to be essential for new college grads in the age of complexity: statistics and data visualization.