NESS is holding a one day policy-oriented conference in London on 28 October, where we will be drawing out practical implications in key areas such as:
Financial marketsCities, transport and infrastructureDecision making
The event is hosting a number of speakers, including:
Sir Charles Bean, Former Deputy Governor, Bank of EnglandDavid Tuckett, Director of the Centre for the Study of Decision-Making Uncertainty Psychoanalysis, University College LondonProfessor Mike Batty, Chairman, Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College LondonPaul Ormerod, Volterra Partners LLP, London
In July 2013 Nicholas Christakis, sociologist and physician, published a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times arguing for the need to shake up the social sciences. We’ve blogged about it in the past and Christakis certainly provoked a lot of discussion with the case he made. The LSE recently ran a panel discussion exploring these themes when he visited the UK (link) and we’ve attached the podcast and information about the event - See more at: http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/16351#sthash.wLMPqkzT.dpuf
The Ebola crisis reminds us, once again, of the downside of globalization. And, though governments may not do a perfect job in addressing such crises, one of the reasons that they have not done as well as we would hope is that we have underfunded the relevant agencies at the national and global level.
For nearly three years, from early 2010 to late 2012, the Eurozone has lived on the brink of breakup. The banking and financial systems became fragmented, gravely impairing the effectiveness of the common monetary policy. Policymakers have appeared as clueless
in the face of a recession of unprecedented depth and length. Elected Heads of Governments have been summarily pushed to resign by their pairs. The European Commission has given the impression of being unable to reconcile deep disagreements, leaving one country, Germany, in charge of masterminding policy responses. Even with enhanced powers, the European Parliament has remained passive. As the intensity of the crisis has receded, policymakers have declared victory prematurely and studiously ignored the risks of a legacy of huge public debts.
The crisis did not erupt in clear skies. It was years in the making. Warnings were not heeded. Poor institutions, whose weaknesses had been carefully described, were left untouched or superficially patched. When the crisis finally revealed these cracks, policymakers chose to avoid any deep questioning. It is only at the insistence of the ECB, quite late in the game, that a banking union was set up, but only partially so. It is only under ECB pressure that a new fiscal discipline regime – the fiscal compact – was set up but poorly implemented. It is often said that a good crisis should never be wasted; in many respects, this one has been wasted. The result is a wave of Euro-skepticism whose deleterious effects will be felt for many years to come.
Even now, five years later, major disagreements about the source and unfolding of the Eurozone crisis remain. (...)
Which famous economist are you most similar to? To find out, answer the questions below and watch your dot move around the graph. Click on blue circles to see economist webpages. Click on questions to see survey data.
All questions and data were taken from the excellent IGM Economic Experts Panel, a survey of a diverse set of economists.
MANY German savers already see the paltry interest they earn on the savings they stash in banks—typically even lower than the country’s minuscule rate of inflation—as an affront. So the news that Deutsche Skatbank, in the eastern state of Thuringia, plans to apply a negative rate of interest to some deposits, was greeted with consternation.
The penalty will only apply to balances of over €500,000 ($625,000) in instant-access accounts, of which there cannot be very many. It is not, technically, the first time that German banks have applied negative rates: a few banks require businesses to pay to have their money looked after. Some government bonds have traded with negative yields. But this is the first time personal accounts have received such treatment. Presumably the bank hopes to nudge savers into other longer-term, less liquid or higher-return investments, which it can make some money by selling.
When designing an agent-based simulation, an important question to answer is how to model the decision making processes of the agents in the system. A large number of agent decision making models can be found in the literature, each inspired by different aims and research questions. In this paper we provide a review of 14 agent decision making architectures that have attracted interest. They range from production-rule systems to psychologically- and neurologically-inspired approaches. For each of the architectures we give an overview of its design, highlight research questions that have been answered with its help and outline the reasons for the choice of the decision making model provided by the originators. Our goal is to provide guidelines about what kind of agent decision making model, with which level of simplicity or complexity, to use for which kind of research question.by Tina Balke and Nigel Gilbert
This paper argues that there is a synchronicity among biological and computational levels on an organism and provides arguments and proofs based on experimental research gathered in the literature. The leading thread is the interplay between quantum biology (QB) and complexity. As the paper asks whether QB does contribute to complexity science (CS), five arguments are provided: (i) Firstly a state-of-the art of QB and its relationship to CS is sketched out. Thereafter, the attention is directed to answering the question set out; (ii) Secondly, it digs into the understanding of life toward deeper levels of reality; (iii) It is shown that non-trivial quantum effects shed insightful lights on the information processing of and within living beings; (iv) Once the distinction is made between increasing levels of complexity and increasing levels of organization, the focus lies in the importance of QB for organization, and not so much for complexity as such; (v) The role of information rises at the center of all concerns, and the intertwining of complexity and information processing. At the end some conclusions are drawn.
Synchronicity among Biological and Computational Levels of an Organism: Quantum Biology and Complexity Carlos E. Maldonado, Nelson A. Gómez-Cruz
Procedia Computer Science Volume 36, 2014, Pages 177–184 Complex Adaptive Systems Philadelphia, PA November 3-5, 2014
In such different domains as statistical physics and spin glasses, neurosciences, social science, economics and finance, large ensemble of interacting individuals taking their decisions either in accordance (mainstream) or against (hipsters) the majority are ubiquitous. Yet, trying hard to be different often ends up in hipsters consistently taking the same decisions, in other words all looking alike. We resolve this apparent paradox studying a canonical model of statistical physics, enriched by incorporating the delays necessary for information to be communicated. We show a generic phase transition in the system: when hipsters are too slow in detecting the trends, they will keep making the same choices and therefore remain correlated as time goes by, while their trend evolves in time as a periodic function. This is true as long as the majority of the population is made of hipsters. Otherwise, hipsters will be, again, largely aligned, towards a constant direction which is imposed by the mainstream choices. Beyond the choice of the best suit to wear this winter, this study may have important implications in understanding dynamics of inhibitory networks of the brain or investment strategies finance, or the understanding of emergent dynamics in social science, domains in which delays of communication and the geometry of the systems are prominent.
The hipster effect: When anticonformists all look the same Jonathan Touboul
Proceedings from the 2014 Complex Systems Summer School are now posted, complete with a network map of the students’ collaborations. The students welcome comments and feedback.
Included in the proceedings are an exemplary set of more than two dozen papers -- more than half of which are being considered for publication.
Some of the topics: Can simple models reproduce complex transportation networks? What are the non-linear effects of pesticides on food dynamics? What role do fractals and scaling play in finance models?
5 Nordic countries, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, dominate rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2014 report.
The report ranks 142 countries on their ability to close the gender gap – making sure women are not held back – in four fundamental areas: economic participation and opportunity, education, health and survival, and political empowerment.
In 2015 demographers, teachers and politicians will stop talking about the population pyramid and start referring to the population dome. The change in terminology will reflect a profound shift in the shape and structure of societies—a shift that has been going on for 50 years and is only half complete.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to acquire or evaluate new information in a way that is consistent with one's preexisting beliefs. It is omnipresent in psychology, economics, and even scientific practices. Prior theoretical research of this phenomenon has mainly focused on its economic implications possibly missing its potential connections with broader notions of cognitive science. Methodology/Principal Findings: We formulate a (non-Bayesian) model for revising subjective probabilistic opinion of a confirmationally-biased agent in the light of a persuasive opinion. The revision rule ensures that the agent does not react to persuasion that is either far from his current opinion or coincides with it. We demonstrate that the model accounts for the basic phenomenology of the social judgment theory, and allows to study various phenomena such as cognitive dissonance and boomerang effect. The model also displays the order of presentation effect|when consecutively exposed to two opinions, the preference is given to the last opinion (recency) or the first opinion (primacy)|and relates recency to confirmation bias. Finally, we study the model in the case of repeated persuasion and analyze its convergence properties. Conclusions: The standard Bayesian approach to probabilistic opinion revision is inadequate for describing the observed phenomenology of persuasion process. The simple non-Bayesian model proposed here does agree with this phenomenology and is capable of reproducing a spectrum of effects observed in psychology: primacy-recency phenomenon, boomerang effect and cognitive dissonance. We point out several limitations of the model that should motivate its future development.
In this presentation, I introduce the idea of philosophical sociology as an enquiry into the relationships between implicit notions of human nature and explicit conceptualizations of social life within sociology. Philosophical sociology is also an invitation to reflect on the role of the normative in social life by looking at it sociologically and philosophically at the same: normative self-reflection is a fundamental aspect of sociology’s scientific tasks because key sociological questions are, in the last instance, also philosophical ones. The idea of philosophical sociology is then sustained on three main pillars and I use them to structure this article: (1) a revalorization of the relationships between sociology and philosophy; (2) a universalistic principle of humanity that works as a major regulative idea of sociological research, and; (3) an argument on the social and pre-social sources of social life. As invitations to embrace posthuman cyborgs, non-human actants and material cultures proliferate, philosophical sociology offers the reminder that we still have to understand more fully who are the human beings that populate the social world.
Peer to peer is essentially a tool or 'model', but whether it can be used for emancipatory purposes depends on a integrated set of conditions. The P2P Foundation has brought together a community of researchers and activists interested in using peer to peer paradigms in every area of social life, and as a pluralist network, combines many different frameworks of understanding, both post-liberal and post-socialist. In this seminar, we will attempt to describe the emergence of p2p models in various domains, look at their commonalities, and see how they can be integrated in a strategy for social change, that creates the conditions for a sustainable and 'just' society. Different scenarios will be presented, from the full integration of p2p in a market economy, via hybrid modes, via the hypothesis of a political economy where peer to peer would be the core logic of value creation.
Seminar held by Michel Bauwens as part of the activities of the 4th Inclusiva-net Meeting: P2P Networks and Processes, an international event that takes place in Medialab-Prado from July 6 to 10, 2009.
As more and more users access social network services from smart devices with GPS receivers, the available amount of geo-tagged information makes repeating classical experiments possible on global scales and with unprecedented precision. Inspired by the original experiments of Milgram, we simulated message routing within a representative sub-graph of the network of Twitter users with about 6 million geo-located nodes and 122 million edges. We picked pairs of users from two distant metropolitan areas and tried to find a route between them using local geographic information only; our method was to forward messages to a friend living closest to the target. We found that the examined network is navigable on large scales, but navigability breaks down at the city scale and the network becomes unnavigable on intra-city distances. This means that messages usually arrived to the close proximity of the target in only 3–6 steps, but only in about 20% of the cases was it possible to find a route all the way to the recipient, in spite of the network being connected.
Recent wide-spread adoption of electronic and pervasive technologies has enabled the study of human behavior at an unprecedented level, uncovering universal patterns underlying human activity, mobility, and inter-personal communication. In the present work, we investigate whether deviations from these universal patterns may reveal information about the socio-economical status of geographical regions. We quantify the extent to which deviations in diurnal rhythm, mobility patterns, and communication styles across regions relate to their unemployment incidence. For this we examine a country-scale publicly articulated social media dataset, where we quantify individual behavioral features from over 145 million geo-located messages distributed among more than 340 different Spanish economic regions, inferred by computing communities of cohesive mobility fluxes. We find that regions exhibiting more diverse mobility fluxes, earlier diurnal rhythms, and more correct grammatical styles display lower unemployment rates. As a result, we provide a simple model able to produce accurate, easily interpretable reconstruction of regional unemployment incidence from their social-media digital fingerprints alone. Our results show that cost-effective economical indicators can be built based on publicly-available social media datasets.
by Alejandro Llorente, Manuel Garcia-Herranz, Manuel Cebrian, Esteban Moro
We present the Bayesian Echo Chamber, a new Bayesian generative model for social interaction data. By modeling the evolution of people's language usage over time, this model discovers latent influence relationships between them. Unlike previous work on inferring influence, which has primarily focused on simple temporal dynamics evidenced via turn-taking behavior, our model captures more nuanced influence relationships, evidenced via linguistic accommodation patterns in interaction content. The model, which is based on a discrete analog of the multivariate Hawkes process, permits a fully Bayesian inference algorithm. We validate our model's ability to discover latent influence patterns using transcripts of arguments heard by the US Supreme Court and the movie "12 Angry Men". We showcase our model's capabilities by using it to infer latent influence patterns in Federal Open Market Committee meeting transcripts, demonstrating state-of-the-art performance at uncovering social dynamics in group discussions.
by Fangjian Guo, Charles Blundell, Hanna Wallach, Katherine A. Heller
For decades Tomasello has explored what makes humans distinctive. His conclusion? We cooperate. Many species, from ants to orcas to our primate cousins, cooperate in the wild. But Tomasello has identified a special form of cooperation. In his view, humans alone are capable of shared intentionality—they intuitively grasp what another person is thinking and act toward a common goal, as the subway rescuers did. This supremely human cognitive ability, Tomasello says, launched our species on its extraordinary trajectory. It forged language, tools, and cultures—stepping-stones to our colonization of every corner of the planet.
In his most recent research, Tomasello has begun to look at the dark side of cooperation. “We are primates, and primates compete with one another,” Tomasello says. He explains cooperation evolved on top of a deep-seated competitive drive. “In many ways, this is the human dilemma,” he says.
You may be seeing a ton of activity on Facebook today related to the election. Maybe you've even clicked Facebook's button that notifies all your friends that you've voted. If so, you're one of several million users who've done so.
As you might expect, Facebook is collecting data on all those people. And, according to its numbers, the button is popular: Users are clicking it at a rate of 358,000 per hour. Most of them so far are based on the East Coast because of the earlier time zone, but expect that to change as more people get to the polls over the day.
Describing the dynamics of a city is a crucial step to both understanding the human activity in urban environments and to planning and designing cities accordingly. Here we describe the collective dynamics of New York City and surrounding areas as seen through the lens of Twitter usage. In particular, we observe and quantify the patterns that emerge naturally from the hourly activities in different areas of New York City, and discuss how they can be used to understand the urban areas. Using a dataset that includes more than 6 million geolocated Twitter messages we construct a movie of the geographic density of tweets. We observe the diurnal “heartbeat” of the NYC area. The largest scale dynamics are the waking and sleeping cycle and commuting from residential communities to office areas in Manhattan. Hourly dynamics reflect the interplay of commuting, work and leisure, including whether people are preoccupied with other activities or actively using Twitter. Differences between weekday and weekend dynamics point to changes in when people wake and sleep, and engage in social activities. We show that by measuring the average distances to the heart of the city one can quantify the weekly differences and the shift in behavior during weekends. We also identify locations and times of high Twitter activity that occur because of specific activities. These include early morning high levels of traffic as people arrive and wait at air transportation hubs, and on Sunday at the Meadowlands Sports Complex and Statue of Liberty. We analyze the role of particular individuals where they have large impacts on overall Twitter activity. Our analysis points to the opportunity to develop insight into both geographic social dynamics and attention through social media analysis.
U. França, H. Sayama, C. McSwiggen, R. Daneshvar and Y. Bar-Yam, Visualizing the “Heartbeat” of a City with Tweets.
We propose a quantitative method to classify cities according to their street pattern. We use the conditional probability distribution of shape factor of blocks with a given area and define what could constitute the ‘fingerprint’ of a city. Using a simple hierarchical clustering method, these fingerprints can then serve as a basis for a typology of cities. We apply this method to a set of 131 cities in the world, and at an intermediate level of the dendrogram, we observe four large families of cities characterized by different abundances of blocks of a certain area and shape. At a lower level of the classification, we find that most European cities and American cities in our sample fall in their own sub-category, highlighting quantitatively the differences between the typical layouts of cities in both regions. We also show with the example of New York and its different boroughs, that the fingerprint of a city can be seen as the sum of the ones characterizing the different neighbourhoods inside a city. This method provides a quantitative comparison of urban street patterns, which could be helpful for a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms behind their distinct shapes.
A typology of street patterns Rémi Louf, Marc Barthelemy