Are we nearing the end of science? That is, are we running out of answerable questions, leaving us with only some mop-up duty, working around the edges of the great scientific achievements of Darwin, Einstein, Copernicus, et al.?
This was the provocative thesis nearly two decades ago of John Horgan, the Scientific American writer who had spent years interviewing luminaries in a variety of fields and had come away with a decidedly jaundiced view. His book The End of Science introduced the reader to superstars and geniuses, most of whom seemed slightly smaller in stature by the time Horgan left the room.
Cities around the world are growing faster than you can say megalopolis. More than half the world lives in cities, and by 2050, it will be two-thirds. In China alone, 300 million people will move to the city within the next 15 years, and to serve them, China must build the equivalent of the entire built infrastructure of the United States by 2028. At the same time, 250 million new urban dwellers are expected in India and 380 million in Africa. Even though cities will soon account for 90 percent of population growth, 80 percent of global CO2, and 75 percent of energy consumption, more and more, it’s where people want to live. Why? Because it’s where 80 percent of the wealth is created, and it’s where people find opportunities, especially women in the developing world. But beyond basic needs from housing to jobs, how do we enjoy the benefits of the city—like cafes, art galleries, restaurants, cultural facilities—without the traffic, crowding, crime, pollution, and disease?
Changing consumer behaviour is key to reducing the environmental effects of industrialised societies. Social practice theories provide an integrated approach to understanding consumer behaviour. The mechanisms underlying the emergence and diffusion of social practices are however until now poorly understood. This paper presents a conceptual framework and an abstract agent-based simulation model for generating social practices which use and extend approaches from social practice theories. The main results are twofold. First, the simulation model is able to generate social practices, what confirms that the conceptual framework captures relevant elements and processes. Second, a new mechanism for behavioural lock-in is identified that provides additional insights into the widely acknowledged challenge of changing social practices and respective consumption.
by Georg Holtz
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (1) 17
We’re increasingly living in a world of black boxes. We don’t understand the way things work. And open-source software, open data are critical tools. We see this in the field of computer security. People say, “Well, we have to keep this secret.” Well, it turns out that the strongest security protocols are those that are secure even when people know how they work. Secrecy is actually, it turns out, a fairly weak way of being secure. And I think in a similar way, we have to understand who owns the rules, how are they driven, how are they guiding our behavior. And there may be cases where you say, “Well, actually it’s a reasonable trade-off to have some degree of secrecy.” We have this with trade secrets all the time in the commercial world. But there are other areas where we should say, “No, we really need to know how this works.”
We apply measures of complexity, emergence and self-organization to an abstract city traffic model for comparing a traditional traffic coordination method with a self-organizing method in two scenarios: cyclic boundaries and non-orientable boundaries. We show that the measures are useful to identify and characterize different dynamical phases. It becomes clear that different operation regimes are required for different traffic demands. Thus, not only traffic is a non-stationary problem, which requires controllers to adapt constantly. Controllers must also change drastically the complexity of their behavior depending on the demand. Based on our measures, we can say that the self-organizing method achieves an adaptability level comparable to a living system.
Measuring the Complexity of Self-organizing Traffic Lights Dario Zubillaga, Geovany Cruz, Luis Daniel Aguilar, Jorge Zapotecatl, Nelson Fernandez, Jose Aguilar, David A. Rosenblueth, Carlos Gershenson
This is the first in a series of articles recounting the history of the Santa Fe Institute drawn from primary and, in a few cases, secondary sources.
By John German
In George Cowan's telling, the notion for a Santa Fe Institute began to form in the summer of 1956. He had been invited to the Aspen Institute, where prominent intellectuals from the arts, science, and culture gathered for free-form philosophical exchanges. He had just participated as the lone scientist in a discussion of literature. (...)
Animal behavior isn't complicated, but it is complex. Nicolas Perony studies how individual animals -- be they Scottish Terriers, bats or meerkats -- follow simple rules that, collectively, create larger patterns of behavior. And how this complexity born of simplicity can help them adapt to new circumstances, as they arise.
Two fundamental issues surrounding research on Zipf's law regarding city sizes are whether and why Zipf's law holds. This paper does not deal with the latter issue with respect to why, and instead investigates whether Zipf's law holds in a global setting, thus involving all cities around the world. Unlike previous studies, which have mainly relied on conventional census data, and census- bureau-imposed definitions of cities, we adopt naturally and objectively delineated cities, or natural cities, to be more precise, in order to examine Zipf's law. We find that Zipf's law holds remarkably well for all natural cities at the global level, and remains almost valid at the continental level except for Africa at certain time instants. We further examine the law at the country level, and note that Zipf's law is violated from country to country or from time to time. This violation is mainly due to our limitations; we are limited to individual countries, and to a static view on city-size distributions. The central argument of this paper is that Zipf's law is universal, and we therefore must use the correct scope in order to observe it. We further find that this law is reflected in the distribution of cities: the number of cities in individual countries follows an inverse power relationship; the number of cities in the first largest country is twice as many as that in the second largest country, three times as many as that in the third largest country, and so on.
Zipf's Law for All the Natural Cities around the World Bin Jiang, Junjun Yin, Qingling Liu
Many species dream, yet there remain many open research questions in the study of dreams. The symbolism of dreams and their interpretation is present in cultures throughout history. Analysis of online data sources for dream interpretation using network science leads to understanding symbolism in dreams and their associated meaning. In this study, we introduce dream interpretation networks for English, Chinese and Arabic that represent different cultures from various parts of the world. We analyze communities in these networks, finding that symbols within a community are semantically related. The central nodes in communities give insight about cultures and symbols in dreams. The community structure of different networks highlights cultural similarities and differences. Interconnections between different networks are also identified by translating symbols from different languages into English. Structural correlations across networks point out relationships between cultures. Similarities between network communities are also investigated by analysis of sentiment in symbol interpretations. We find that interpretations within a community tend to have similar sentiment. Furthermore, we cluster communities based on their sentiment, yielding three main categories of positive, negative, and neutral dream symbols.
We address theoretically whether and under what conditions Schelling's celebrated result of 'self-organized' unintended residential segregation may also apply to school segregation. We propose here a computational model of school segregation that is aligned with a corresponding Schelling-type model of residential segregation. To adapt the model for application to school segregation, we move beyond previous work by combining two preference arguments in modeling parents' school choice, preferences for the ethnic composition of a school and preferences for minimizing the travelling distance to the school. In a set of computational experiments we assessed the effects of population composition and distance preferences in the school model. We found that a preference for nearby schools can suppress the trend towards self-organized segregation obtained in a baseline condition where parents were indifferent towards distance. We then investigated the joint effects of the variation of agents' 'tolerance' for out-group members and distance preference. We found that integrated distributions were preserved under a much broader range of conditions than in the absence of a preference for nearby schools. We conclude that parents' preferences for nearby schools may be an important factor in tempering for school choice the segregation dynamics known from models of residential segregation.
From Schelling to Schools: A Comparison of a Model of Residential Segregation with a Model of School Segregation
Victor Ionut Stoica and Andreas Flache
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (1) 5
The difficulties that many rich countries now face are not the result of the inexorable laws of economics, to which people simply must adjust, as they would to a natural disaster. On the contrary, the decline in most households' income over the past three decades, particularly in the US, is the result of flawed policies.
The conference is organized with the contribution of the SimulPast project(www.simulpast.es), a 5-year exploratory research project funded by the SpanishGovernment (MICINN CSD2010-00034) that aims at developing an innovative andinterdisciplinary methodological framework to model and simulate ancient societies andtheir relationship with environmental transformations. To achieve these aims, SimulPastintegrates knowledge from diverse fields covering humanities, social, computationaland ecological sciences within a national and international network.
The conference intention is to showcase the result of the SimulPast project together withcurrent international research on the methodological and theoretical aspects of computersimulation in archaeological and historical contexts. The conference will bring togetherscholars from different disciplinary backgrounds (history, ecology, archaeology,anthropology, sociology, computer science and complex systems) in order to promotedeeper understanding and collaboration in the study of past human behavior and history
We are delighted to welcome the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2014) to Barcelona, Spain, from November 10th to November 13th.SocInfo is an interdisciplinary venue for researchers from Computer Science, Informatics, Social Sciences and Management Sciences to share ideas and opinions, and present original research work on studying the interplay between socially-centric platforms and social phenomena. The ultimate goal of Social Informatics is to create better understanding of socially-centric platforms not just as a technology, but also as a set of social phenomena. To that end, we are inviting interdisciplinary papers, on applying information technology in the study of social phenomena, on applying social concepts in the design of information systems, on applying methods from the social sciences in the study of social computing and information systems, on applying computational algorithms to facilitate the study of social systems and human social dynamics, and on designing information and communication technologies that consider social context.
2014 Interdisciplinary Symposium on Complex Systems (ISCS'14)
Center for the Study of Complex Systems (CSDC) Department of Physics and Astronomy University of Florence, Florence, Italy September 15 - 18, 2014
The main aim of the 2014 Interdisciplinary Symposium on Complex Systems is to bring together researchers working on complex systems. We invite scientists, philosophers, researchers, engineers, and young students to submit their works, attend, or register for tutorials.The main theme of this year is "How Nature Works".
The human brain makes predictions by finding similarities between the patterns in recent sensory inputs and previous experiences stored in its vast memory. The same process is now perfectly feasible for those engaged in promoting economic development.
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