A multidimensional financial system could provide benefits for individuals, companies, and states. Instead of top-down control, which is destined to eventually fail in a hyperconnected world, a bottom-up creation of value can unleash creative potential and drive innovations. Multiple currency dimensions can represent different externalities and thus enable the design of incentives and feedback mechanisms that foster the ability of complex dynamical systems to self-organize and lead to a more resilient society and sustainable economy. Modern information and communication technologies play a crucial role in this process, as Web 2.0 and online social networks promote cooperation and collaboration on unprecedented scales. Within this contribution, we discuss how one dimension of a multidimensional currency system could represent socio-digital capital (Social Bitcoins) that can be generated in a bottom-up way by individuals who perform search and navigation tasks in a future version of the digital world. The incentive to mine Social Bitcoins could sustain digital diversity, which mitigates the risk of totalitarian control by powerful monopolies of information and can create new business opportunities needed in times where a large fraction of current jobs is estimated to disappear due to computerisation.
A "Social Bitcoin" could sustain a democratic digital world Kaj-Kolja Kleineberg, Dirk Helbing
The prevalence of many urban phenomena changes systematically with population size. We propose a theory that unifies models of economic complexity and cultural evolution to derive urban scaling. The theory accounts for the difference in scaling exponents and average prevalence across phenomena, as well as the difference in the variance within phenomena across cities of similar size. The central ideas are that a number of necessary complementary factors must be simultaneously present for a phenomenon to occur, and that the diversity of factors is logarithmically related to population size. The model reveals that phenomena that require more factors will be less prevalent, scale more superlinearly and show larger variance across cities of similar size. The theory applies to data on education, employment, innovation, disease and crime, and it entails the ability to predict the prevalence of a phenomenon across cities, given information about the prevalence in a single city.
Explaining the Prevalence, Scaling and Variance of Urban Phenomena Andres Gomez-Lievano, Oscar Patterson-Lomba, Ricardo Hausmann
Recent advances in nonequilibrium statistical physics have provided unprecedented insight into the thermodynamics of dynamic processes. The author recently used these advances to extend Landauer’s semi-formal reasoning concerning the thermodynamics of bit erasure, to derive the minimal free energy required to implement an arbitrary computation. Here, I extend this analysis, deriving the minimal free energy required by an organism to run a given (stochastic) map π from its sensor inputs to its actuator outputs. I use this result to calculate the input-output map π of an organism that optimally trades off the free energy needed to run π with the phenotypic fitness that results from implementing π. I end with a general discussion of the limits imposed on the rate of the terrestrial biosphere’s information processing by the flux of sunlight on the Earth.
Systems in thermodynamic equilibrium are not only characterized by time-independent macroscopic properties, but also satisfy the principle of detailed balance in the transitions between microscopic configurations. Living systems function out of equilibrium and are characterized by directed fluxes through chemical states, which violate detailed balance at the molecular scale. Here we introduce a method to probe for broken detailed balance and demonstrate how such nonequilibrium dynamics are manifest at the mesosopic scale. The periodic beating of an isolated flagellum from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exhibits probability flux in the phase space of shapes. With a model, we show how the breaking of detailed balance can also be quantified in stationary, nonequilibrium stochastic systems in the absence of periodic motion. We further demonstrate such broken detailed balance in the nonperiodic fluctuations of primary cilia of epithelial cells. Our analysis provides a general tool to identify nonequilibrium dynamics in cells and tissues.
Broken detailed balance at mesoscopic scales in active biological systems BY CHRISTOPHER BATTLE, CHASE P. BROEDERSZ, NIKTA FAKHRI, VEIKKO F. GEYER, JONATHON HOWARD, CHRISTOPH F. SCHMIDT, FRED C. MACKINTOSH
The overwhelming success of online social networks, the key actors in the Web 2.0 cosmos, has reshaped human interactions globally. To help understand the fundamental mechanisms which determine the fate of online social networks at the system level, we describe the digital world as a complex ecosystem of interacting networks. In this paper, we study the impact of heterogeneity in network fitnesses on the competition between an international network, such as Facebook, and local services. The higher fitness of international networks is induced by their ability to attract users from all over the world, which can then establish social interactions without the limitations of local networks. In other words, inter-country social ties lead to increased fitness of the international network. To study the competition between an international network and local ones, we construct a 1:1000 scale model of the digital world, consisting of the 80 countries with the most Internet users. Under certain conditions, this leads to the extinction of local networks; whereas under different conditions, local networks can persist and even dominate completely. In particular, our model suggests that, with the parameters that best reproduce the empirical overtake of Facebook, this overtake could have not taken place with a significant probabilit
Competition between global and local online social networks Kaj-Kolja Kleineberg & Marián Boguñá
Understanding the morphology of an urban system is an important step toward unveiling the dynamical processes of its growth and development. At the foundation of every urban system, transportation system is undeniably a crucial component in powering the life of the entire urban system. In this work, we study the spatial pattern of 73 cities across the globe by analysing the distribution of public transport points within the cities. The analysis reveals that different spatial distributions of points could be classified into four groups with distinct features, indicating whether the points are clustered, dispersed or regularly distributed. From visual inspection, we observe that the cities with regularly distributed patterns do not have apparent centre in contrast to the other two types in which star-node structure, i.e. monocentric, can be clearly observed. Furthermore, the results provide evidence for the existence of two different types of urban system: well-planned and organically grown. We also study the spatial distribution of another important urban entity, the amenities, and find that it possesses universal properties regardless of the city's spatial pattern type. This result has one important implication that at small scale of locality, the urban dynamics cannot be controlled even though the regulation can be done at large scale of the entire urban system. The relation between the distribution of amenities within the city and its spatial pattern is also discussed.
Spatial Patterns in Urban Systems Hoai Nguyen Huynh, Evgeny Makarov, Erika Fille Legara, Christopher Monterola, Lock Yue Chew
West Nile virus (WNV) causes viral encephalitis in humans, and is related to viruses such as Dengue and Zika that are also of significant public health concern. We have developed a computational method to determine characteristics of WNV infection even in the face of limited experimental data. This could be applicable to other emerging diseases like Zika virus for which there is little data. It may be particularly useful to estimate the potential rate of within-host viral reproduction early in an outbreak in order to assess the epidemic potential of emerging pathogens.
Saying that physics knows no boundaries is not the same as saying that physicists can solve everything. They too have been brought up inside a discipline, and are as prone as any of us to blunder when they step outside. The issue is not who “owns” particular problems in science, but about developing useful tools for thinking about how things work—which is what Aristotle tried to do over two millennia ago. Physics is not what happens in the Department of Physics. The world really doesn’t care about labels, and if we want to understand it then neither should we.
Three studies investigate the bacteria in the guts of malnourished children and find that, when this microbiota is transferred into mice, supplements of certain microbes or sugars from human breast milk can restore normal growth.
Microbiome: Eating for trillions Derrick M. Chu & Kjersti M. Aagaard
But if the mitochondria are me, doesn’t this mean I have two sets of genes? Aren’t I a mosaic of both my own cellular DNA and that of my mitochondria? The fact is that all of the “others”—whether they are parasitic or mutualistic, cheaters or straight-shooters, long-term residents or one-night stands—have a significant characteristic in common: They each carry their own DNA. And this means that, for however long they are inside their host’s body, two genetically distinct organisms are living under the same skin and, to one extent or another, are biologically intertwined. Deep down, at the core of our tissue, we are a gigantic, symbiotic array, a ragtag assortment of organisms. All of these are to some degree us.
One of the most celebrated findings in complex systems in the last decade is that different indexes y (e.g., patents) scale nonlinearly with the population~x of the cities in which they appear, i.e., y∼x^β, β≠1. More recently, the generality of this finding has been questioned in studies using new databases and different definitions of city boundaries. In this paper we investigate the existence of nonlinear scaling using a probabilistic framework in which fluctuations are accounted explicitly. In particular, we show that this allows not only to (a) estimate β and confidence intervals, but also to (b) quantify the evidence in favor of β≠1 and (c) test the hypothesis that the observations are compatible with the nonlinear scaling. We employ this framework to compare 5 different models to 15 different datasets and we find that the answers to points (a)-(c) crucially depend on the fluctuations contained in the data, on how they are modeled, and on the fact that the city sizes are heavy-tailed distributed.
Is this scaling nonlinear? J. C. Leitao, J.M. Miotto, M. Gerlach, E. G. Altmann
Pathogens can spread epidemically through populations. Beneficial contagions, such as viruses that enhance host survival or technological innovations that improve quality of life, also have the potential to spread epidemically. How do the dynamics of beneficial biological and social epidemics differ from those of detrimental epidemics? We investigate this question using three theoretical approaches as well as an empirical analysis of concept propagation. First, in evolutionary models, we show that a beneficial horizontally-transmissible element, such as viral DNA, spreads super-exponentially through a population, substantially more quickly than a beneficial mutation. Second, in an epidemiological social network approach, we show that infections that cause increased connectivity lead to faster-than-exponential fixation in the population. Third, in a sociological model with strategic rewiring, we find that preferences for increased global infection accelerate spread and produce super-exponential fixation rates, while preferences for local assortativity halt epidemics by disconnecting the infected from the susceptible. Finally, in an investigation of the Google Ngram corpus, we find that new words and phrases spread super-exponentially, as anticipated by our models. We conclude that the dynamics of beneficial biological and social epidemics are characterized by the remarkably rapid spread of beneficial elements, which can be facilitated in biological systems by horizontal transmission and in social systems by active spreading strategies of infected individuals.
Andrew Berdahl, Christa Brelsford, Caterina De Bacco, Marion Dumas, Vanessa Ferdinand, Joshua A. Grochow, Laurent Hébert-Dufresne, Yoav Kallus, Christopher P. Kempes, Artemy Kolchinsky, Daniel B. Larremore, Eric Libby, Eleanor A. Power, Caitlin A. Stern, Brendan Tracey (Santa Fe Institute Postdocs)
Advances in science are being sought in newly available opportunities to collect massive quantities of data about complex systems. While key advances are being made in detailed mapping of systems, how to relate these data to solving many of the challenges facing humanity is unclear. The questions we often wish to address require identifying the impact of interventions on the system and that impact is not apparent in the detailed data that is available. Here, we review key concepts and motivate a general framework for building larger scale views of complex systems and for characterizing the importance of information in physical, biological, and social systems. We provide examples of its application to evolutionary biology with relevance to ecology, biodiversity, pandemics, and human lifespan, and in the context of social systems with relevance to ethnic violence, global food prices, and stock market panic. Framing scientific inquiry as an effort to determine what is important and unimportant is a means for advancing our understanding and addressing many practical concerns, such as economic development or treating disease.
From big data to important information Yaneer Bar-Yam
In increasing numbers, researchers around the world are turning to Sci-Hub, the controversial website that hosts 50 million pirated papers and counting. Now, with server log data from Alexandra Elbakyan, the neuroscientist who created Sci-Hub in 2011 as a 22-year-old graduate student in Kazakhstan, Science addresses some basic questions: Who are Sci-Hub's users, where are they, and what are they reading? The Sci-Hub data provide the first detailed view of what is becoming the world's de facto open-access research library. Among the revelations that may surprise both fans and foes alike: Sci-Hub users are not limited to the developing world. Some critics of Sci-Hub have complained that many users can access the same papers through their libraries but turn to Sci-Hub instead—for convenience rather than necessity. The data provide some support for that claim. Over the 6 months leading up to March, Sci-Hub served up 28 million documents, with Iran, China, India, Russia, and the United States the leading requestors.
Modern society is permeated by systems with many numbers of nodes and connections (e.g., rail networks, airports). A theoretical study of the multiplex network consisting of European Union air routes and the London rail transportation system demonstrates the fragility of such a network.
Bond Percolation on Multiplex Networks A. Hackett, D. Cellai, S. Gómez, A. Arenas, and J. P. Gleeson Phys. Rev. X 6, 021002 (2016)
Cascading overload failures are widely found in large-scale parallel systems and remain a major threat to system reliability; therefore, they are of great concern to maintainers and managers of different systems. Accurate cascading failure prediction can provide useful information to help control networks. However, for a large, gradually growing network with increasing complexity, it is often impractical to explore the behavior of a single node from the perspective of failure propagation. Fortunately, overload failures that propagate through a network exhibit certain spatial-temporal correlations, which allows the study of a group of nodes that share common spatial and temporal characteristics. Therefore, in this study, we seek to predict the failure rates of nodes in a given group using machine-learning methods.
We simulated overload failure propagations in a weighted lattice network that start with a center attack and predicted the failure percentages of different groups of nodes that are separated by a given distance. The experimental results of a feedforward neural network (FNN), a recurrent neural network (RNN) and support vector regression (SVR) all show that these different models can accurately predict the similar behavior of nodes in a given group during cascading overload propagation.
The occurrence of complex networks of interactions among species not only relies on species co-occurrence, but also on inherited traits and evolutionary events imprinted in species phylogenies. The phylogenetic signal found in ecological networks suggests that evolution plays an important role in determining community assembly and hence could inform about the underpinning mechanisms.
Traffic congestion is one of the most notable problems arising in worldwide urban areas, importantly compromising human mobility and air quality. Current technologies to sense real-time data about cities, and its open distribution for analysis, allow the advent of new approaches for improvement and control. Here, we propose an idealized model, the Microscopic Congestion Model, based on the critical phenomena arising in complex networks, that allows to analytically predict congestion hotspots in urban environments. Results on real cities' road networks, considering, in some experiments, real-traffic data, show that the proposed model is capable of identifying susceptible junctions that might become hotspots if mobility demand increases.
A model to identify urban traffic congestion hotspots in complex networks Albert Solé-Ribalta, Sergio Gómez, Alex Arenas
The relationship between team size and productivity is a question of broad relevance across economics, psychology, and management science. For complex tasks, however, where both the potential benefits and costs of coordinated work increase with the number of workers, neither theoretical arguments nor empirical evidence consistently favor larger vs. smaller teams. Experimental findings, meanwhile, have relied on small groups and highly stylized tasks, hence are hard to generalize to realistic settings. Here we narrow the gap between real-world task complexity and experimental control, reporting results from an online experiment in which 47 teams of size ranging from n = 1 to 32 collaborated on a realistic crisis mapping task. We find that individuals in teams exerted lower overall effort than independent workers, in part by allocating their effort to less demanding (and less productive) sub-tasks; however, we also find that individuals in teams collaborated more with increasing team size. Directly comparing these competing effects, we find that the largest teams outperformed an equivalent number of independent workers, suggesting that gains to collaboration dominated losses to effort. Importantly, these teams also performed comparably to a field deployment of crisis mappers, suggesting that experiments of the type described here can help solve practical problems as well as advancing the science of collective intelligence.
Ensuring a sufficient supply of quality food for a growing human population is a major challenge, aggravated by climate change and already-strained natural resources. Food security requires production of some food surpluses to safeguard against unpredictable fluctuations (1). However, when food is wasted, not only has carbon been emitted to no avail, but disposal and decomposition in landfills create additional environmental impacts. Decreasing the current high scale of food waste is thus crucial for achieving resource-efficient, sustainable food systems (2). But, although avoiding food waste seems an obvious step toward sustainability, especially given that most people perceive wasting food as grossly unethical (3), food waste is a challenge that is not easily solved.
Waste not, want not, emit less Jessica Aschemann-Witzel
Theoretical predictions for biodiversity patterns are typically derived under the assumption that ecological systems have reached a dynamic equilibrium. Yet, there is increasing evidence that various aspects of ecological systems, including (but not limited to) species richness, are not at equilibrium. Here, we use simulations to analyse how biodiversity patterns unfold through time. In particular, we focus on the relative time required for various biodiversity patterns (macroecological or phylogenetic) to reach equilibrium. We simulate spatially explicit metacommunities according to the Neutral Theory of Biodiversity (NTB) under three modes of speciation, which differ in how evenly a parent species is split between its two daughter species. We find that species richness stabilizes first, followed by species area relationships (SAR) and finally species abundance distributions (SAD). The difference in timing of equilibrium between these different macroecological patterns is the largest when the split of individuals between sibling species at speciation is the most uneven. Phylogenetic patterns of biodiversity take even longer to stabilize (tens to hundreds of times longer than species richness) so that equilibrium predictions from neutral theory for these patterns are unlikely to be relevant. Our results suggest that it may be unwise to assume that biodiversity patterns are at equilibrium and provide a first step in studying how these patterns unfold through time.
Understanding how biodiversity unfolds through time under neutral theory
The study of network structure has uncovered signatures of the organization of complex systems. However, there is also a need to understand how to control them; for example, identifying strategies to revert a diseased cell to a healthy state, or a mature cell to a pluripotent state. Two recent methodologies suggest that the controllability of complex systems can be predicted solely from the graph of interactions between variables, without considering their dynamics: structural controllability and minimum dominating sets. We demonstrate that such structure-only methods fail to characterize controllability when dynamics are introduced. We study Boolean network ensembles of network motifs as well as three models of biochemical regulation: the segment polarity network in Drosophila melanogaster, the cell cycle of budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the floral organ arrangement in Arabidopsis thaliana. We demonstrate that structure-only methods both undershoot and overshoot the number and which sets of critical variables best control the dynamics of these models, highlighting the importance of the actual system dynamics in determining control. Our analysis further shows that the logic of automata transition functions, namely how canalizing they are, plays an important role in the extent to which structure predicts dynamics.
Control of complex networks requires both structure and dynamics Alexander J. Gates & Luis M. Rocha Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 24456 (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep24456
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