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This is the Scoop.it! for NESS - Non-Equilibrium Social Sciences. For more about the NESS community please go to our website http://www.nessnet.eu
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The European Debt Crisis Visualized

At the heart of the European debt crisis is the euro, the currency that tied together 18 countries in an intimate manner. So when one country teeters on the brink of financial collapse, the entire continent is at risk. How did such a flawed system come to be? 

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Contest for Data Mining - Insights from the Wikipedia Contest

The Wikimedia Foundation has recently observed that newly joining editors on Wikipedia are increasingly failing to integrate into the Wikipedia editors' community, i.e. the community is becoming increasingly harder to penetrate. To sustain healthy growth of the community, the Wikimedia Foundation aims to quantitatively understand the factors that determine the editing behavior, and explain why most new editors become inactive soon after joining. As a step towards this broader goal, the Wikimedia foundation sponsored the ICDM (IEEE International Conference for Data Mining) contest for the year 2011. 
The objective for the participants was to develop models to predict the number of edits that an editor will make in future five months based on the editing history of the editor. Here we describe the approach we followed for developing predictive models towards this goal, the results that we obtained and the modeling insights that we gained from this exercise. In addition, towards the broader goal of Wikimedia Foundation, we also summarize the factors that emerged during our model building exercise as powerful predictors of future editing activity.

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The Collective Intelligence Handbook

Thomas W. Malone and Michael S. Bernstein (Editors)

Collective intelligence has existed at least as long as humans have, because families, armies, countries, and companies have all--at least sometimes--acted collectively in ways that seem intelligent. But in the last decade or so a new kind of collective intelligence has emerged: groups of people and computers, connected by the Internet, collectively doing intelligent things. In order to understand the possibilities and constraints of these new kinds of intelligence, a new interdisciplinary field is emerging.


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Economic forecasts: an astonishing record of complete failure

Economic forecasts: an astonishing record of complete failure | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

In the 2001 issue of the International Journal of Forecasting, an economist from the International Monetary Fund, Prakash Loungani, published a survey of the accuracy of economic forecasts throughout the 1990s. He reached two conclusions. The first was that forecasts are all much the same. There was little to choose between those produced by the IMF and the World Bank, and those from private sector forecasters. The second conclusion was that the predictive record of economists was terrible. Loungani wrote: “The record of failure to predict recessions is virtually unblemished.”

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How languages evolve - Alex Gendler

How languages evolve - Alex Gendler | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Over the course of human history, thousands of languages have developed from what was once a much smaller number. How did we end up with so many? And how do we keep track of them all? Alex Gendler explains how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.

Via Ashish Umre, Complexity Digest, Jorge Louçã
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Unpacking Green Growth – A trans-continental conference | Global Systems Science

The future of global economic growth raises a whole range of questions, including, but not limited to, purely economic ones. Will the successes in reducing global poverty continue? Will inequality within key economies continue to increase? Will global and local environmental disruption continue? In the face of these questions, green growth has been proposed as an appropriate strategy. The vision of billions of poor people achieving a decent standard of living while economic activities become a force of environmental enhancement rather than disruption is certainly attractive. But is it feasible? What experiences have been made so far? What obstacles, what risks should be expected? What alternatives do exist? On October 9-10, scholars and practitioners will meet in the US, China and Europe to share insights and discuss open questions about green growth. The three sub-events will be connected via Internet, and the conference as a whole shall help to develop the research needed to address global challenges like the one of green growth.  October 8-9 (Europe and US) 9-10 (China), 2014
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Exploring the rise and fall of human societies

Exploring the rise and fall of human societies | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

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Meet the algorithm that can learn “everything about anything”

The most recent advances in artificial intelligence research are pretty staggering, thanks in part to the abundance of data available on the web. We’ve covered how deep learning is helping create self-teaching and highly accurate systems for tasks such as sentiment analysis and facial recognition, but there are also models that can solve geometry and algebra problems, predict whether a stack of dishes is likely to fall over and (from the team behind Google’s word2vec) understand entire paragraphs of text.


Via Jorge Louçã
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On the psychology of poverty

On the psychology of poverty | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Poverty remains one of the most pressing problems facing the world; the mechanisms through which poverty arises and perpetuates itself, however, are not well understood. Here, we examine the evidence for the hypothesis that poverty may have particular psychological consequences that can lead to economic behaviors that make it difficult to escape poverty. The evidence indicates that poverty causes stress and negative affective states which in turn may lead to short-sighted and risk-averse decision-making, possibly by limiting attention and favoring habitual behaviors at the expense of goal-directed ones. Together, these relationships may constitute a feedback loop that contributes to the perpetuation of poverty. We conclude by pointing toward specific gaps in our knowledge and outlining poverty alleviation programs that this mechanism suggests.

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Technology Is Taking Over English Departments - The false promise of the digital humanities

Technology Is Taking Over English Departments - The false promise of the digital humanities | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The humanities are in crisis again, or still. But there is one big exception: digital humanities, which is a growth industry. In 2009, the nascent field was the talk of the Modern Language Association (MLA) convention: “among all the contending subfields,” a reporter wrote about that year’s gathering, “the digital humanities seem like the first ‘next big thing’ in a long time.” Even earlier, the National Endowment for the Humanities created its Office of Digital Humanities to help fund projects. And digital humanities continues to go from strength to strength, thanks in part to the Mellon Foundation, which has seeded programs at a number of universities with large grants—most recently, $1 million to the University of Rochester to create a graduate fellowship.


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Animals Band Together to Overthrow Despots

Animals Band Together to Overthrow Despots | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Among social animals, inequality is a fact of life. Millions of ants do all the work for one reproducing queen. Troops of chimps form male-dominated hierarchies, males bossing females around and forming a pecking order with one highly aggressive alpha male on top. Poorly paid migrant workers pick grapes for...
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Eli Levine's curator insight, May 24, 7:21 AM

So where does that leave us in the grand scheme of things?

 

http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/inequality/ here is the link to the issue of Science.

 

Historically, we've tended towards inequality when we have an excess of workers fighting for a limited number of jobs.  Bear in mind, that this is strictly talking about economic inequality as opposed to social inequality, which is defined in terms of just an individual's inclination and circumstance.

 

Economically and socially, we tend to do better when resources are more or less evenly distributed amongst the working population.  Technically, this can be argued as being morally just, because if people are contributing to the work than they deserve a reasoned cut of the produce of that work, no matter how lowly it may seem to be to each of us.  Every job that exists counts towards the overall productivity of goods and services.  If it was not needed, or a cheaper alternative existed, it wouldn't be around.  Therefore, it's needed and, sometimes, those "low" jobs are the hardest and nastiest ones to do, making them more than deserving of reasoned compensation.

 

The trouble arises due to the apparent greed of the those who populate the upper crust.  While this is not universal (and it's not universal that the lower ranks are all egalitarian, "hippies" either), the fact remains is that there appears to be a tremendous amount of variety within our species, with regards to attitudes concerning inequality and relative status.  Some of this is cultural, some of this is personal.  That's how we can have such stark differences between the executives at Costco and the executives at Walmart.

 

Overall though, human societies tend to have historically done better when there was greater equality amongst the members, both economically and socially.  Talent that was born into (relatively) lowly stations was able to rise to appropriate levels, people were able to feed and house themselves and their families, the government simply had to oversee and track changes in the society and the economy rather than (unsuccessfully) suppress angry groups of humans within the society.  Those who had higher stations were still able to enjoy higher qualities of life for what could be considered more highly skilled and consequential work, in spite of not having so much money that they'd never be able to spend it all in even more than one lifetime (intergenerational inheritance).  What is money but an arbitrary social construct that we've designed to mediate and lubricate exchanges?  What good does it do if it comes beyond what you're able to use and comes at the expense of the rest of human society and the environment?  Furthermore, by allowing people to share more in the produce of their labor, you enable them to spend more money on more than just the basics needed for subsistence, which then decreases dependency on public institutions (if there are any) and enables people to diversify their spending habits, as well as enable them to invest and save money (which helps fuel growth and protects against economic crashes and misfortunes).

 

The rich have the solution to prosperity backwards!  Yet the politicians in Washington who do their bidding do not seem to have the capabilities of seeing it like that, or they are so ideologically inclined towards a self-destructive system that they're not going to see how natural law favors relative equality and disfavors inequality.

 

Quite frankly, I don't want to live in a nasty, brutish and life or death competitive system where I could die through no fault of my own.  I also wouldn't want to live sleeping with one eye open in case the mass of society turns against myself and my friends and family.

 

Do you?  Do any of us want that kind of life?

 

Apparently so, because that's what laissez-faire leads to.

 

And they're called conservatives or Libertarians.

 

It doesn't lead to a free life, in spite of them wanting freedom.

 

And they'll never admit that they're wrong in the grand scheme of things, however slightly that might be.

 

Think about it.

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Grand challenges for Computational Intelligence

The intelligence phenomenon continues to fascinate scientists and engineers, remaining an elusive moving target. Following numerous past observations (e.g., Hofstadter, 1985, p. 585), it can be pointed out that several attempts to construct “artificial intelligence” have turned to designing programs with discriminative power. These programs would allow computers to discern between meaningful and meaningless in similar ways to how humans perform this task. Interestingly, as noted by de Looze (2006) among others, such discrimination is based on etymology of “intellect” derived from Latin “intellego” (inter-lego): to choose between, or to perceive/read (a core message) between (alternatives). In terms of computational intelligence, the ability to read between the lines, extracting some new essence, corresponds to mechanisms capable of generating computational novelty and choice, coupled with active perception, learning, prediction, and post-diction. When a robot demonstrates a stable control in presence of a priori unknown environmental perturbations, it exhibits intelligence. When a software agent generates and learns new behaviors in a self-organizing rather than a predefined way, it seems to be curiosity-driven. When an algorithm rapidly solves a hard computational problem, by efficiently exploring its search-space, it appears intelligent.

 

Prokopenko M (2014) Grand challenges for computational intelligence. Front. Robot. AI 1:2. http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/frobt.2014.00002/full


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What I Learned About Crowdfunding From Peruvian Chicken

I learned about the pollada this past week when I visited Peru with some colleagues from MIT, and used it as a way to contextualize crowdfunding in two different talks I gave to Intercorp’s new Innovation Lab and HASTAC 2014 in Lima. I used it to make the argument that crowdfunding is a process that is rooted in collaborative practices that are common across cultures, and that everything we know about making these practices effective is the raw material of great crowdfunding. For a Peruvian audience, the pollada was a familiar practice that made crowdfunding — still a relatively new and untested phenomenon in the country — immediately intuitive. For non-Peruvians, the comparison served to demonstrate the array of socio-cultural precedents that exist for crowdfunding.


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Complicated or complex - knowing the difference is important

Complicated or complex - knowing the difference is important | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Understanding the difference between complex and complicated systems is becoming important for many aspects of management and policy. With complicated problems or issues one can define the problem ...
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Eli Levine's curator insight, June 2, 11:12 AM

It's a slight, but significant difference in meaning.  Just remember, that complex refers to systems, while complicated seems to refer more to engineering tasks.

 

However, it can be argued that some aspects of complexity can be engineered, although never with the precision or exactness of traditional forms of engineering.

 

Fuzzy math.

 

Think about it.

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BBC Podcast: Behind the Stats - the Piketty Affair

BBC Podcast: Behind the Stats - the Piketty Affair | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Did 'rock-star' French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong? His theories about rising inequality and the increasing importance of capital have been the talk of the economic and political worlds this year. And part of their appeal has been the massive amount of data Piketty has brought together to back them. But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty's data on wealth, and says this undermines his claims about rising inequality. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty's response. Plus: is as much land given over to golf courses as housing in England; is racism on the rise in Britain; and should we be concerned that several young men who have died recently were players of the video game Call of Duty?

 
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Uncovering the structure and temporal dynamics of information propagation

Time plays an essential role in the diffusion of information, influence, and disease over networks. In many cases we can only observe when a node is activated by a contagion—when a node learns about a piece of information, makes a decision, adopts a new behavior, or becomes infected with a disease. However, the underlying network connectivity and transmission rates between nodes are unknown. Inferring the underlying diffusion dynamics is important because it leads to new insights and enables forecasting, as well as influencing or containing information propagation. In this paper we model diffusion as a continuous temporal process occurring at different rates over a latent, unobserved network that may change over time. Given information diffusion data, we infer the edges and dynamics of the underlying network. Our model naturally imposes sparse solutions and requires no parameter tuning. We develop an efficient inference algorithm that uses stochastic convex optimization to compute online estimates of the edges and transmission rates. We evaluate our method by tracking information diffusion among 3.3 million mainstream media sites and blogs, and experiment with more than 179 million different instances of information spreading over the network in a one-year period. We apply our network inference algorithm to the top 5,000 media sites and blogs and report several interesting observations. First, information pathways for general recurrent topics are more stable across time than for on-going news events. Second, clusters of news media sites and blogs often emerge and vanish in a matter of days for on-going news events. Finally, major events, for example, large scale civil unrest as in the Libyan civil war or Syrian uprising, increase the number of information pathways among blogs, and also increase the network centrality of blogs and social media sites.

 

Uncovering the structure and temporal dynamics of information propagation
MANUEL GOMEZ RODRIGUEZ, JURE LESKOVEC, DAVID BALDUZZI, BERNHARD SCHÖLKOPF
Network Science , Volume 2 , Issue 01 , April 2014, pp 26 - 65
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/nws.2014.3 ;


Via Complexity Digest, Shaolin Tan, Alejandro J. Alvarez S.
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Academics Anonymous: break down barriers between disciplines

Academics Anonymous: break down barriers between disciplines | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Universities are outdated – big problems require thinkers who can transcend the traditional boundaries between subjects

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Stop Lecturing Me

Stop Lecturing Me | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

College lecture classes have been around for more than 900 years. Lately, a handful of science and engineering professors have been experimenting with a more innovative way of teaching science, especially at the introductory level. The idea is to have students spend their class time solving problems and engaging in activities that are designed to help them think like scientists instead of listening passively to an expert.


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Big Data, Socio-Psychological Theory, Algorithmic Text Analysis and Predicting the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index

We describe an exercise of using Big Data to predict the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, a widely used indicator of the state of confidence in the US economy. We carry out the exercise from a pure ex ante perspective. We use the methodology of algorithmic text analysis of an archive of brokers' reports over the period June 2010 through June 2013. The search is directed by the social-psychological theory of agent behaviour, namely conviction narrative theory. We compare one month ahead forecasts generated this way over a 15 month period with the forecasts reported for the consensus predictions of Wall Street economists. The former give much more accurate predictions, getting the direction of change correct on 12 of the 15 occasions compared to only 7 for the consensus predictions. We show that the approach retains significant predictive power even over a four month ahead horizon.

By Rickard Nyman, Paul Ormerod

arXiv:1405.5695 [q-fin.ST]

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Life and Death Contrasted

Life and Death Contrasted | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

A striking image from the British engraver and publisher Valentine Green, illustrating the idea that life, with all its frivolity and distractions (symbolised by the romance novel, parlour games, and high society lady in all her finery) is in fact – echoing the sentiment of Ecclesiastes (quoted on the obelisk) – nothing but “vanity”, all lives as they do inevitably ending in death. The subtitle – “an essay on woman” – does, however, raise the question of whether Green is making a further comment on womanhood itself. See the second picture below for a different version, but this time using the figure of a man. - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/life-and-death-contrasted-ca-1770/#sthash.UjHCuoMk.dpuf

 


Via Jorge Louçã
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Culture now has two audiences: people and machines

Culture now has two audiences: people and machines | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
A conversation with Ted Striphas

 

How are technology and culture shaping each other?

This is a difficult question, but only because we cannot presume to know in advance what “technology” and “culture” mean. For my part, I believe it’s always better to think of both as moving targets.

Technology and culture can “shape” or “influence” each another if and only if one proceeds from the assumption that they are separable, conceptually or semantically. For most of the past two centuries this has effectively been the case, but it is has not always been so. Until about 1800, the word “culture” in English referred to husbandry—that is, to techniques for tending crops and domesticated animals, including selective breeding. Sometimes it was used interchangeably with the world “coulter,” which is a part of a plough. Technology and culture used to be very closely aligned, so much so that it was difficult to imagine the one apart from the other.

 

(...)


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Twitter to take India election innovations global

Twitter to take India election innovations global | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - U.S. social networking company Twitter is planning to replicate parts of its India election strategy across countries that go to polls this year, after it emerged as a key tool for politicians and media companies during the world's largest democratic exercise.

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Extending empathy is key to human survival

Extending empathy is key to human survival | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Society needs to undergo an empathic revolution if we are to survive as a species, says Anita Nowak of McGill University speaking at PINC 15 in the Netherlands
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The inevitability of Chinese Hegemony

With a population like that of China, where the people are gaining as producers and consumers of world products and services, it's inevitable that China will become the next hegemonic global power.The upper limit to the economic power and influence of states on the world stage is based on these factors:

1. A balanced consumer/producer economy

2. A large dynamic population

3. Society wide encouragement and promotion of scientific and technological innovation.

4. Adaptability

5. Diversity of cultures, peoples and ideas

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Eli Levine's curator insight, May 24, 7:41 AM

Well, I don't view Chinese hegemony as inevitable.  Nor do I think that it is necessarily going to be permanent if it's going to happen at all.

 

The greatest challenge that the Americans fail to realize, accept and work with is the issue of legitimacy amongst nations, peoples and societies,  We are perceived (rightfully so sometimes) of just bossing people around willy nilly to adhere to OUR values and OUR systems and logics (as if they're universal) while neglecting to uphold our own principles in our own country.  

 

The Chinese don't do that.  They don't care how societies organize or operate, provided that they at least don't get in the way of Chinese interests and ambitions (which are mostly aimed at resource collection and other more practical strategic issues rather than imposing value systems on other people artificially).

 

Even if the Chinese eclipses the US, the rest of the world could still be banded together against a repressive Chinese hegemony.  The US may still have the strongest military in the world, but, that doesn't do much good when you're fighting more than half of the world's population if the Chinese are able to take over influence of most of the rest of the world (especially when it comes to the question of occupation and other long term consequences of conflict).  They've already encroached into Latin America significantly, made huge inroads in Africa and are only focusing on creating a larger regional power base for themselves in Asia.

 

The advantage in Asia is that the Chinese are, predictably, alienating the societies of the Asian countries that feel they're being encroached on.  This means that the US can band them together under a strategic alliance to counter the Chinese.  But we've also got to look beyond Asia, as the Chinese spread their influence globally, such that we have SOCIETIES (not governments, per se) allied with us against the potential repression of the Chinese as they gather resources to feed their hungry economy and society.  This means changing a lot of our attitudes, tones and perspectives with regards to the world, accepting people for who they are, in spite of how it makes us feel and acknowledging that they too are looking for happiness, health and dignity on the individual and collective levels.

 

Therefore, my recipe for the US is as such: maintain military superiority through improved STRATEGY and TECHNOLOGY.  Prioritize friendship amongst the neighborhood of nations rather than promote our value system and systems of governance.  Work with people to solve disputes as a true mediator rather than as a partisan for one side or the other.  Seek the common ground in all disputes with other countries, such that a reasoned middle way is reached rather than an individual win-lose situation (if possible).  Be willing to give others what they need when it is of no consequence to our strategy or to our domestic well being.  Be flexible and recognize when other governments are actually overstepping their legitimacy, such that they'll naturally lose (in other words, keep an accurate view of the situation without your values imposed on top of it, and don't freak out when it looks like others are "winning" when they're not). And, finally, prioritize the homeland first over all other imperial assets spread throughout the world.  This last point goes along with the point that genuine respect is key to interacting successfully with other nations, and that, according to the historical data, empires have never been a successful model for handling business, owing to their cumbersomeness and inevitability of collapse.  Thus is how it works in natural law, and thus, it's something we should avoid carrying out, while maintaining projection capabilities from home bases.

 

Enjoy.

 

Think about it.

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Shock waves on complex networks

Shock waves on complex networks | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Power grids, road maps, and river streams are examples of infrastructural networks which are highly vulnerable to external perturbations. An abrupt local change of load (voltage, traffic density, or water level) might propagate in a cascading way and affect a significant fraction of the network. Almost discontinuous perturbations can be modeled by shock waves which can eventually interfere constructively and endanger the normal functionality of the infrastructure. We study their dynamics by solving the Burgers equation under random perturbations on several real and artificial directed graphs. Even for graphs with a narrow distribution of node properties (e.g., degree or betweenness), a steady state is reached exhibiting a heterogeneous load distribution, having a difference of one order of magnitude between the highest and average loads. Unexpectedly we find for the European power grid and for finite Watts-Strogatz networks a broad pronounced bimodal distribution for the loads. To identify the most vulnerable nodes, we introduce the concept of node-basin size, a purely topological property which we show to be strongly correlated to the average load of a node.

Via Shaolin Tan
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Eli Levine's curator insight, May 20, 5:19 AM

Indeed, this is intuitive enough without the mathematics to back it up.  This could be mapped out and used for prioritizing the defense or attack of various points within the network, either in the digital or analog worlds.

 

Way cool science!

 

Think about it.