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Defining the epoch we live in

Human alterations of Earth's environments are pervasive. Visible changes include the built environment, conversion of forests and grasslands to agriculture, algal blooms, smog, and the siltation of dams and estuaries. Less obvious transformations include increases in ozone, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) in the atmosphere, and ocean acidification. Motivated by the pervasiveness of these alterations, Crutzen and Stoermer argued in 2000 that we live in the “Anthropocene,” a time in which humans have replaced nature as the dominant environmental force on Earth (1). Many of these wide-ranging changes first emerged during the past 200 years and accelerated rapidly in the 20th century (2). Yet, a focus on the most recent changes risks overlooking pervasive human transformations of Earth's surface for thousands of years, with profound effects on the atmosphere, climate, and biodiversity.


Defining the epoch we live in
William F. Ruddiman, Erle C. Ellis, Jed O. Kaplan, Dorian Q. Fuller

Science 3 April 2015:
Vol. 348 no. 6230 pp. 38-39
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa7297 ;

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Does Longer Copyright Protection Help or Hurt Scientific Knowledge Creation?

The Constitution of the United States empowers the Congress to pass copyright laws to promote knowledge creation in the society and more specifically scientific knowledge. Many interesting economic studies have been conducted on copyright law, but very little research has been done to study the impact of the law on knowledge creation. In this paper we develop and analyze an agent-based model to investigate the impact of copyright on the creation and discovery of new knowledge. The model suggests that, for the most part, the extension of the copyright term hinders scholars in producing new knowledge. Furthermore, extending the copyright term tends to harm everyone, including scholars who have access to all published articles in the research field. However, we also identify situations where extending copyright term promotes rather than hinders knowledge creation. Additionally, scholars that publish copyrighted materials tend to out-perform those who do not creating a potential tension between individual incentives and the public good.


Does Longer Copyright Protection Help or Hurt Scientific Knowledge Creation?
by Shahram Haydari and Rory Smead
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/2/23.html

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Self-Policing Through Norm Internalization

In the seminal work 'An Evolutionary Approach to Norms', Axelrod identified internalization as one of the key mechanisms that supports the spreading and stabilization of norms. But how does this process work? This paper advocates a rich cognitive model of different types, degrees and factors of norm internalization. Rather than a none-or-all phenomenon, we claim that norm internalization is a dynamic process, whose deepest step occurs when norms are complied with thoughtlessly. In order to implement a theoretical model of internalization and check its effectiveness in sustaining social norms and promoting cooperation, a simulated web-service distributed market has been designed, where both services and agents' tasks are dynamically assigned. Internalizers are compared with agents whose behaviour is driven only by self-interested motivations. Simulation findings show that in dynamic unpredictable scenarios, internalizers prove more adaptive and achieve higher level of cooperation than agents whose decision-making is based only on utility calculation.


Self-Policing Through Norm Internalization: A Cognitive Solution to the Tragedy of the Digital Commons in Social Networks
by Daniel Villatoro, Giulia Andrighetto, Rosaria Conte and Jordi Sabater-Mir
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/2/2.html

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Mark Waser's curator insight, April 2, 2015 10:40 AM

Axelrod, Tragedy of the Digital Commons & Optimality of internalizers/altruists/deontologists over utility calculators.  What more could you want?

Bettina Ascaino's curator insight, April 2, 2015 5:42 PM

To finish reading...

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Responding to Complexity in Socio-­Economic Systems: How to Build a Smart and Resilient Society?

The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. And it has changed in a much more fundamental way than one would think, primarily because it has become more connected and interdependent than in our entire history. Every new product, every new invention can be combined with those that existed before, thereby creating an explosion of complexity: structural complexity, dynamic complexity, functional complexity, and algorithmic complexity. How to respond to this challenge?


Responding to Complexity in Socio-­Economic Systems: How to Build a Smart and Resilient Society?

Dirk Helbing

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2583391

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Congestion in the bathtub

This paper presents a model of urban traffic congestion that allows for hypercongestion. Hypercongestion has fundamental importance for the costs of congestion and the effect of policies such as road pricing, transit provision and traffic management, treated in the paper. In the simplest version of the model, the unregulated Nash equilibrium is also the social optimum among a wide range of potential outcomes and any reasonable road pricing scheme will be welfare decreasing. Large welfare gains can be achieved through road pricing when there is hypercongestion and travelers are heterogeneous.


Fosgerau, Mogens (2015): Congestion in the bathtub.

http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/63029/ 

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Shared intentions and the advance of cumulative culture in hunter-gatherers

It has been hypothesized that the evolution of modern human cognition was catalyzed by the development of jointly intentional modes of behaviour. From an early age (1-2 years), human infants outperform apes at tasks that involve collaborative activity. Specifically, human infants excel at joint action motivated by reasoning of the form "we will do X" (shared intentions), as opposed to reasoning of the form "I will do X [because he is doing X]" (individual intentions). The mechanism behind the evolution of shared intentionality is unknown. Here we formally model the evolution of jointly intentional action and show under what conditions it is likely to have emerged in humans. Modelling the interaction of hunter-gatherers as a coordination game, we find that when the benefits from adopting new technologies or norms are low but positive, the sharing of intentions does not evolve, despite being a mutualistic behaviour that directly benefits all participants. When the benefits from adopting new technologies or norms are high, such as may be the case during a period of rapid environmental change, shared intentionality evolves and rapidly becomes dominant in the population. Our results shed new light on the evolution of collaborative behaviours.


Shared intentions and the advance of cumulative culture in hunter-gatherers
Simon D. Angus, Jonathan Newton

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.06522

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Bits from Brains for Biologically Inspired Computing

Inspiration for artificial biologically inspired computing is often drawn from neural systems. This article shows how to analyze neural systems using information theory with the aim of obtaining constraints that help to identify the algorithms run by neural systems and the information they represent. Algorithms and representations identified this way may then guide the design of biologically inspired computing systems. The material covered includes the necessary introduction to information theory and to the estimation of information-theoretic quantities from neural recordings. We then show how to analyze the information encoded in a system about its environment, and also discuss recent methodological developments on the question of how much information each agent carries about the environment either uniquely or redundantly or synergistically together with others. Last, we introduce the framework of local information dynamics, where information processing is partitioned into component processes of information storage, transfer, and modification – locally in space and time. We close by discussing example applications of these measures to neural data and other complex systems.


Wibral M, Lizier JT and Priesemann V (2015) Bits from brains for biologically inspired computing. Front. Robot. AI 2:5. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2015.00005 

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Colbert Sesanker's curator insight, March 27, 2015 5:55 PM

Consider this section from the Walter Pitts article above:

 

Interesting Section:

 

"There was a catch, though: This symbolic abstraction made the world transparent but the brain opaque. Once everything had been reduced to information governed by logic, the actual mechanics ceased to matter—the tradeoff for universal computation was ontology. Von Neumann was the first to see the problem. He expressed his concern to Wiener in a letter that anticipated the coming split between artificial intelligence on one side and neuroscience on the other. “After the great positive contribution of Turing-cum-Pitts-and-McCulloch is assimilated,” he wrote, “the situation is rather worse than better than before. Indeed these authors have demonstrated in absolute and hopeless generality that anything and everything … can be done by an appropriate mechanism, and specifically by a neural mechanism—and that even one, definite mechanism can be ‘universal.’ Inverting the argument: Nothing that we may know or learn about the functioning of the organism can give, without ‘microscopic,’ cytological work any clues regarding the further details of the neural mechanism."

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The Next Epidemic — Lessons from Ebola

Perhaps the only good news from the tragic Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is that it may serve as a wake-up call: we must prepare for future epidemics of diseases that may spread more effectively than Ebola. There is a significant chance that an epidemic of a substantially more infectious disease will occur sometime in the next 20 years; after all, we saw major epidemics during the 20th century, including the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918–1919 and the ongoing pandemic of human immunodeficiency virus. In fact, of all the things that could kill more than 10 million people around the world, the most likely is an epidemic stemming from either natural causes or bioterrorism.


The Next Epidemic — Lessons from Ebola
Bill Gates

NEJM
March 18, 2015

http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMp1502918 

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Can we neglect the multi-layer structure of functional networks?

Functional networks, i.e. networks representing dynamic relationships between the components of a complex system, have been instrumental for our understanding of, among others, the human brain. Due to limited data availability, the multi-layer nature of numerous functional networks has hitherto been neglected, and nodes are endowed with a single type of links even when multiple relationships coexist at different physical levels. A relevant problem is the assessment of the benefits yielded by studying a multi-layer functional network, against the simplicity guaranteed by the reconstruction and use of the corresponding single layer projection. Here, I tackle this issue by using as a test case, the functional network representing the dynamics of delay propagation through European airports. Neglecting the multi-layer structure of a functional network has dramatic consequences on our understanding of the underlying system, a fact to be taken into account when a projection is the only available information.


Can we neglect the multi-layer structure of functional networks?
Massimiliano Zanin

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.04302

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Johannes van der Pol's curator insight, March 23, 2015 9:47 AM

An Innovation network is the perfect candidate to be analyzed as  a multilayered network. The  channels that allow knowledge to transfer between between cooperating firms are numerous (patents, social links, licences, technology swaps, employee mobility and many more). Can't wait to put this into practise.

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PageRank Approach to Ranking National Football Teams

The Football World Cup as world's favorite sporting event is a source of both entertainment and overwhelming amount of data about the games played. In this paper we analyse the available data on football world championships since 1930 until today. Our goal is to rank the national teams based on all matches during the championships. For this purpose, we apply the PageRank with restarts algorithm to a graph built from the games played during the tournaments. Several statistics such as matches won and goals scored are combined in different metrics that assign weights to the links in the graph. Finally, our results indicate that the Random walk approach with the use of right metrics can indeed produce relevant rankings comparable to the FIFA official all-time ranking board.


PageRank Approach to Ranking National Football Teams
Verica Lazova, Lasko Basnarkov

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.01331

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Fast and asymptotic computation of the fixation probability for Moran processes on graphs

Population genetics studies the genetic composition of biological populations, and the changes in this composition that result from the action of four different processes: natural selection, random drift, mutation and migration. The modern evolutionary synthesis combines Darwin's thesis on natural selection and Mendel's theory of inheritance.
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Defining the Anthropocene

Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth’s state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964. The formal establishment of an Anthropocene Epoch would mark a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system.


Defining the Anthropocene
Simon L. Lewis & Mark A. Maslin

Nature 519, 171–180 (12 March 2015) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14258 ;

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Co-evolutionary Dynamics of Collective Action with Signaling for a Quorum

From humans to social insects and bacteria, decision-making is often influenced by some form of collective signaling, be it quorum, information exchange, pledges or announcements. Here we investigate how such signaling systems evolve when collective action entails a public good, and how meanings co-evolve with individual choices, given Nature’s most prevalent states. We find a rich scenario, showing how natural selection is able to evolve a costly quorum signaling system that allows individuals to coordinate their action so as to provide the appropriate response to different states of Nature. We show that signaling robustly and selectively promotes cooperative collective action when coordinated action is most needed. In light of our results, and despite the complexity that collective action relying on quorum signaling may entail, it is not so surprising how signaling is a ubiquitous property of the living world.


Pacheco JM, Vasconcelos VV, Santos FC, Skyrms B (2015) Co-evolutionary Dynamics of Collective Action with Signaling for a Quorum. PLoS Comput Biol 11(2): e1004101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004101 ;

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Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy

Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy | Papers | Scoop.it

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming irrelevant to climate policy. By seeking consensus and avoiding controversy, the organization is suffering from the streetlight effect — focusing ever more attention on a well-lit pool of the brightest climate science. But the insights that matter are out in the darkness, far from the places that the natural sciences alone can illuminate.


Climate change: Embed the social sciences in climate policy
David Victor

http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-embed-the-social-sciences-in-climate-policy-1.17206

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Mobilization, Flexibility of Identity, and Ethnic Cleavage

In modern states, mobilization policy has been used to awaken people to new ideas such as national identity, industrial capitalism, and civic society. However, it has long been debated whether mobilization in new countries or in countries under reconstruction creates an integrated identity or results in fragmentation of various ethnic groups. Although the idea that identity is not immutable but malleable is now widely accepted in political science, sociology, and other social sciences, the degree to which identity can be reconstructed once it has been mobilized remains unclear. This study employs an agent-based model to address questions regarding the relationship between governments' mobilization and the integration of identity in countries. The analysis suggests that more rapid mobilization by governments stabilizes a greater ethnic cleavage. This result is found to be robust by changing parameters and by modifying the specifications of the model. In addition, the analysis presents two other implications. The first is that a spiraling fragmentation of identity might occur if governments fail to accommodate people. The second is that in an age of advanced communication, governments need more assimilative power than before in order to secure integration. The analysis suggests that future research about identity formation in countries should consider the rigidity as well as the flexibility of identity.


Mobilization, Flexibility of Identity, and Ethnic Cleavage
by Kazuya Yamamoto
http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/18/2/8.html

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Dennis Swender's curator insight, April 4, 2015 10:56 AM

Refer to Banks, Ch 9 regarding potential conflicts between modernity vs primordialism [Banks, J. A. (2007) Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society. Second Edition.  New York:  Teachers College Press]

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Intelligent Connectivity for Seamless Urban Mobility

Intelligent Connectivity for Seamless Urban Mobility | Papers | Scoop.it

Intelligent Connectivity for Seamless Urban Mobility explores a future vision for urban mobility which includes new choices for individual trip-making, better information for smarter decision-making, and system optimization to utilize infrastructure efficiently; all in service of fostering a seamless, safe and sustainable travel experience.

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Gary Bamford's curator insight, April 1, 2015 4:26 AM

Excellent vision - well worth a scan!

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Dynamic DNA devices and assemblies formed by shape-complementary, non–base pairing 3D components

DNA origami—nanostructures created by programming the assembly of single-stranded DNA through base pairing—can create intricate structures. However, such structures lack the flexible and reversible interactions more typical of biomolecular recognition. Gerling et al. created three-dimensional DNA nanostructures that assemble though nucleotide base-stacking interactions (see the Perspective by Shih). These structures cycled from open to closed states with changes in salt concentration or temperature.


Dynamic DNA devices and assemblies formed by shape-complementary, non–base pairing 3D components
Thomas Gerling, Klaus F. Wagenbauer, Andrea M. Neuner, Hendrik Dietz

Science 27 March 2015:
Vol. 347 no. 6229 pp. 1446-1452
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa5372

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Information content of contact-pattern representations and predictability of epidemic outbreaks

To understand the contact patterns of a population -- who is in contact with whom, and when the contacts happen -- is crucial for modeling outbreaks of infectious disease. Traditional theoretical epidemiology assumes that any individual can meet any with equal probability. A more modern approach, network epidemiology, assumes people are connected into a static network over which the disease spreads. Newer yet, temporal network epidemiology, includes the time in the contact representations. In this paper, we investigate the effect of these successive inclusions of more information. Using empirical proximity data, we study both outbreak sizes from unknown sources, and from known states of ongoing outbreaks. In the first case, there are large differences going from a fully mixed simulation to a network, and from a network to a temporal network. In the second case, differences are smaller. We interpret these observations in terms of the temporal network structure of the data sets. For example, a fast overturn of nodes and links seem to make the temporal information more important.


Information content of contact-pattern representations and predictability of epidemic outbreaks
Petter Holme

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.06583

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Human Computation and Convergence

Humans are the most effective integrators and producers of information, directly and through the use of information-processing inventions. As these inventions become increasingly sophisticated, the substantive role of humans in processing information will tend toward capabilities that derive from our most complex cognitive processes, e.g., abstraction, creativity, and applied world knowledge. Through the advancement of human computation - methods that leverage the respective strengths of humans and machines in distributed information-processing systems - formerly discrete processes will combine synergistically into increasingly integrated and complex information processing systems. These new, collective systems will exhibit an unprecedented degree of predictive accuracy in modeling physical and techno-social processes, and may ultimately coalesce into a single unified predictive organism, with the capacity to address societies most wicked problems and achieve planetary homeostasis.


Human Computation and Convergence
Pietro Michelucci

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.05959

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Synthetic circuit designs for Earth terraformation

Mounting evidence indicates that our planet might experience runaway effects associated to rising temperatures and ecosystem overexploitation, leading to catastrophic shifts on short time scales. Remediation scenarios capable of counterbalancing these effects involve geoengineering, sustainable practices and carbon sequestration, among others. None of these scenarios seems powerful enough to achieve the desired restoration of safe boundaries. We hypothesise that synthetic organisms with the appropriate engineering design could be used to safely prevent declines in some stressed ecosystems and help improving carbon sequestration. Such schemes would include engineering mutualistic dependencies preventing undesired evolutionary processes. We hypothesise that some particular design principles introduce unescapable constraints to the engineered organisms that act as effective firewalls. Testing this designed organisms can be achieved by using controlled bioreactor models and accurate computational models including different scales (from genetic constructs and metabolic pathways to population dynamics). Our hypothesis heads towards a future anthropogenic action that should effectively act as Terraforming agents. It also implies a major challenge in the existing biosafety policies, since we suggest release of modified organisms as potentially necessary strategy for success.


Synthetic circuit designs for Earth terraformation
Ricard Solé, Salva Duran-Nebreda, Raul Montañez

http://arxiv.org/abs/1503.05043

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Viral Cell-to-Cell Transmission—Why Less Is More

Viral Cell-to-Cell Transmission—Why Less Is More | Papers | Scoop.it

Imagine millions of creatures settling on a new planet. How would they repopulate this new world? If they were viruses, they would choose five individuals, at random, to do the job. When viruses infect new cells within a host, they invade that cell with thousands of genomes, but only a small number, on the order of 4 or 5, are successfully replicated (Fig. 1). Why do viruses use this strategy, and how did this arise? A recent study in PLOS Biology by Shuhei Miyashita, Masayuki Ishikawa, and colleagues seeks to understand why cell-to-cell (also known as tissue) viral infection involves such a small number of genomes and how this is advantageous to the virus. Fascinatingly, the authors find that genomes are essentially determined at random, but through this inherently random—or stochastic—process, beneficial genomes are selected and defective genomes are expunged.


Richardson LA (2015) Viral Cell-to-Cell Transmission—Why Less Is More. PLoS Biol 13(3): e1002095. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002095

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Topicality and Impact in Social Media: Diverse Messages, Focused Messengers

Topicality and Impact in Social Media: Diverse Messages, Focused Messengers | Papers | Scoop.it

We have a limited understanding of the factors that make people influential and topics popular in social media. Are users who comment on a variety of matters more likely to achieve high influence than those who stay focused? Do general subjects tend to be more popular than specific ones? Questions like these demand a way to detect the topics hidden behind messages associated with an individual or a keyword, and a gauge of similarity among these topics. Here we develop such an approach to identi


Weng L, Menczer F (2015) Topicality and Impact in Social Media: Diverse Messages, Focused Messengers. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118410. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0118410 ;

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Top-Down Self-Organization: State Logics, Substitutional Delegation, and Private Governance in Russia

This study investigates the counterintuitive emergence of self-regulation in the Russian construction sector. Despite its proclivity for centralizing political authority, the government acted as the catalyst for the delegation of regulatory powers to private industry groups. The article argues that a factor little considered in extant literature—namely, a weak and corrupt bureaucracy—is key to explaining why the normally control-oriented executive branch began to promote private governance despite industry's preference for continued state regulation. The article's signal contribution is to theoretically explain and empirically demonstrate how a government's prior inability to establish intrastate control over an ineffective and bribable public bureaucracy creates incentives for political authorities to search for alternative means for policy implementation outside of existing state agencies. These findings are important for understanding the impetus and logic behind particular regulatory shifts in countries where the state apparatus is both deficient and corrupt.


Top-Down Self-Organization: State Logics, Substitutional Delegation, and Private Governance in Russia
Masha Hedberg

Governance

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gove.12140 ;


Via june holley
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Anthropocene: The human age

Anthropocene: The human age | Papers | Scoop.it
Momentum is building to establish a new geological epoch that recognizes humanity's impact on the planet. But there is fierce debate behind the scenes.


http://www.nature.com/news/anthropocene-the-human-age-1.17085

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ASundberg's curator insight, March 29, 2015 9:30 AM

Brief historicization of the anthropocene discussion. 

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Conflict resolution: Wars without end

Conflict resolution: Wars without end | Papers | Scoop.it
The world is full of bloody conflicts that can drag on for decades. Some researchers are trying to find resolutions through complexity science.


http://www.nature.com/news/conflict-resolution-wars-without-end-1.17070

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