Non-Equilibrium Social Science
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Non-Equilibrium Social Science
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How to Increase Conversion Rates by Decreasing Choices [Infographic]

How to Increase Conversion Rates by Decreasing Choices [Infographic] | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Learn why too many choices could be a bad thing for your conversions.

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Technology is making us blind: The dangerous complacency of the iPhone era

Technology is making us blind: The dangerous complacency of the iPhone era | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The technology pages of news media can make for scary reading these days. From new evidence of government surveillance to the personal data collection capabilities of new devices, to the latest leaks of personal information, we hear almost daily of new threats to personal privacy. It’s difficult to overstate the implications of this: The separation of the private and public that’s the cornerstone of liberal thought, not to mention the American Constitution, is being rapidly eroded, with potentially profound consequences for our freedom.

 

As much as we may register a certain level of dismay at this, in practice, our reaction is often indifference. How many of us have taken to the streets in protest, started a petition, canvassed a politician, or even changed our relationship with our smartphone, tablet or smartwatch? The question is why are we so unconcerned?

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Social media for large studies of behavior

CONCLUSIONS. The biases and issues highlighted above will not affect all research in the same way. Well-reasoned judgment on the part of authors, reviewers, and editors is warranted here. Many of the issues discussed have well-known solutions contributed by other fields such as epidemiology, statistics, and machine learning. In some cases, the solutions are difficult to fit with practical realities (e.g., as in the case of proper significance testing) whereas in other cases the community simply has not broadly adopted best practices (e.g., independent data sets for testing machine learning techniques) or the existing solutions may be subject to biases of their own. Regardless, a crucial step is to resolve the disconnect that exists between this research community and other (often related) fields with methods and practices for managing analytical bias.

 

Social media for large studies of behavior
Derek Ruths, Jürgen Pfeffer

Science 28 November 2014:
Vol. 346 no. 6213 pp. 1063-1064
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.346.6213.1063

 


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tom cockburn's curator insight, November 30, 2014 5:26 AM

Seems a sensible conclusion regarding big data

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World Population Will Soar Higher Than Predicted

World Population Will Soar Higher Than Predicted | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

United Nations leaders have worried for decades about the pace of population growth. A few years ago leading calculations had global population peaking at nine billion by 2070 and then easing to 8.4 billion by 2100. Currently it stands at 7.2 billion. Recently the U.N. revised these numbers steeply upward: the population is now expected to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050 and continue to 10.9 billion by 2100 (black line, below). What caused this drastic revision? Almost all the increase comes from Africa (pink line). Earlier models “had anticipated that fertility rates in Africa would drop quickly, but they haven’t,” says Adrian Raftery, a statistician at the University of Washington, who assessed the revised estimates. How the world will feed a few billion more people is the question of the day.  

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Evolutionary dynamics of time-resolved social interactions

Cooperation among unrelated individuals is frequently observed in social groups when their members combine efforts and resources to obtain a shared benefit that is unachievable by an individual alone. However, understanding why cooperation arises despite the natural tendency of individuals toward selfish behavior is still an open problem and represents one of the most fascinating challenges in evolutionary dynamics. Recently, the structural characterization of the networks in which social interactions take place has shed some light on the mechanisms by which cooperative behavior emerges and eventually overcomes the natural temptation to defect. In particular, it has been found that the heterogeneity in the number of social ties and the presence of tightly knit communities lead to a significant increase in cooperation as compared with the unstructured and homogeneous connection patterns considered in classical evolutionary dynamics. Here, we investigate the role of social-ties dynamics for the emergence of cooperation in a family of social dilemmas. Social interactions are in fact intrinsically dynamic, fluctuating, and intermittent over time, and they can be represented by time-varying networks. By considering two experimental data sets of human interactions with detailed time information, we show that the temporal dynamics of social ties has a dramatic impact on the evolution of cooperation: the dynamics of pairwise interactions favors selfish behavior.

 

Evolutionary dynamics of time-resolved social interactions
Phys. Rev. E 90, 052825 – Published 25 November 2014

Alessio Cardillo, Giovanni Petri, Vincenzo Nicosia, Roberta Sinatra, Jesús Gómez-Gardeñes, and Vito Latora

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Defining the internet of things – time to focus on the data

Defining the internet of things – time to focus on the data | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
As the internet of things passes into mainstream consciousness, more specific definitions are needed in order to secure it. The data it creates could be a good place to start
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Do we need to shake up the social sciences?

Do we need to shake up the social sciences? | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

In July 2013 Nicholas Christakis, sociologist and physician, published a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times arguing for the need to shake up the social sciences. We’ve blogged about it in the past and Christakis certainly provoked a lot of discussion with the case he made. The LSE recently ran a panel discussion exploring these themes when he visited the UK  (link) and we’ve attached the podcast and information about the event - See more at: http://sociologicalimagination.org/archives/16351#sthash.wLMPqkzT.dpuf

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Ebola and Inequality

Ebola and Inequality | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
The Ebola crisis reminds us, once again, of the downside of globalization. And, though governments may not do a perfect job in addressing such crises, one of the reasons that they have not done as well as we would hope is that we have underfunded the relevant agencies at the national and global level.
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The Eurozone crisis: A near-perfect case of mismanagement

For nearly three years, from early 2010 to late 2012, the Eurozone has lived on the brink of breakup. The banking and financial systems became fragmented, gravely impairing the effectiveness of the common monetary policy. Policymakers have appeared as clueless

in the face of a recession of unprecedented depth and length. Elected Heads of Governments have been summarily pushed to resign by their pairs. The European Commission has given the impression of being unable to reconcile deep disagreements, leaving one country, Germany, in charge of masterminding policy responses. Even with enhanced powers, the European Parliament has remained passive. As the intensity of the crisis has receded, policymakers have declared victory prematurely and studiously ignored the risks of a legacy of huge public debts.

The crisis did not erupt in clear skies. It was years in the making. Warnings were not heeded. Poor institutions, whose weaknesses had been carefully described, were left untouched or superficially patched. When the crisis finally revealed these cracks, policymakers chose to avoid any deep questioning. It is only at the insistence of the ECB, quite late in the game, that a banking union was set up, but only partially so. It is only under ECB pressure that a new fiscal discipline regime – the fiscal compact – was set up but poorly implemented. It is often said that a good crisis should never be wasted; in many respects, this one has been wasted. The result is a wave of Euro-skepticism whose deleterious effects will be felt for many years to come.

Even now, five years later, major disagreements about the source and unfolding of the Eurozone crisis remain. (...)

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Which famous economist are you most similar to?

Which famous economist are you most similar to? | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Which famous economist are you most similar to? To find out, answer the questions below and watch your dot move around the graph. Click on blue circles to see economist webpages. Click on questions to see survey data.

All questions and data were taken from the excellent IGM Economic Experts Panel, a survey of a diverse set of economists.

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Worse than nothing

Worse than nothing | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

MANY German savers already see the paltry interest they earn on the savings they stash in banks—typically even lower than the country’s minuscule rate of inflation—as an affront. So the news that Deutsche Skatbank, in the eastern state of Thuringia, plans to apply a negative rate of interest to some deposits, was greeted with consternation.

The penalty will only apply to balances of over €500,000 ($625,000) in instant-access accounts, of which there cannot be very many. It is not, technically, the first time that German banks have applied negative rates: a few banks require businesses to pay to have their money looked after. Some government bonds have traded with negative yields. But this is the first time personal accounts have received such treatment. Presumably the bank hopes to nudge savers into other longer-term, less liquid or higher-return investments, which it can make some money by selling.

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How Do Agents Make Decisions?

When designing an agent-based simulation, an important question to answer is how to model the decision making processes of the agents in the system. A large number of agent decision making models can be found in the literature, each inspired by different aims and research questions. In this paper we provide a review of 14 agent decision making architectures that have attracted interest. They range from production-rule systems to psychologically- and neurologically-inspired approaches. For each of the architectures we give an overview of its design, highlight research questions that have been answered with its help and outline the reasons for the choice of the decision making model provided by the originators. Our goal is to provide guidelines about what kind of agent decision making model, with which level of simplicity or complexity, to use for which kind of research question.by Tina Balke and Nigel Gilbert
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Lorien Pratt's curator insight, November 12, 2014 2:13 PM

For those note familiar with agent-based social simulation, the idea is to simulate the individual decisions of many "agents", each representing a person, in some situation.  For example, we might model decisions that people make as they move through a train station or amusement park, in order to design those places to best handle traffic flow. 


This is a terrific, comprehensive review article, covering a number of ways of approaching the task of modeling those individual decisions made by simulated agents.  Each is designed with somewhat different constraints in mind.  For instance, some models like SOAR, are meant to mimic certain cognitive processes.


From a Decision Intelligence point of view, these approaches are complementary.  If we want a sophisticated model of the emergent behavior of a large number of people, as one building block in a decision model for what to do about it, an agent-based simulation can be very helpful. For instance, we might be trying to decide which new medicine to launch, taking into account our competitors, our price to produce the medicine, and its impact on disease.  Part of that decision model might be based on an agent-based simulation of the decisions that people make to take the medicine, and their behavior that leads to contracting the disease. 


To continue the example, we could either use an agent-based simulation to learn from the agent-based simulation, or have it run in the same simulation as a decision model. For an example of the first, an agent-based simulation might show that the disease is expected to grow geographically according to a certain pattern. That spread pattern would then be an external input to a decision model. 


The second way to use this is to use the decision model to interactively move certain assumptions about the decision-making process, and to immediately observe the impact on agents. For instance, we may adjust the number of dollars invested in a public health campaign and observe how that impacts the emergent properties of an agent-based simulation.  There are a lot of possibilities here!



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Landing on a comet: Live from Rosetta mission control

Landing on a comet: Live from Rosetta mission control | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
As the Philae lander descends, Nature watches the milestone mission unfold from the European Space Agency.

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Being Bad Europeans

Being Bad Europeans | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

The U.S. economy finally seems to be climbing out of the deep hole it entered during the global financial crisis. Unfortunately, Europe, the other epicenter of crisis, can’t say the same. Unemployment in the euro area is stalled at almost twice the U.S. level, while inflation is far below both the official target and outright deflation has become a looming risk.

Investors have taken notice: European interest rates have plunged, with German long-term bonds yielding just 0.7 percent. That’s the kind of yield we used to associate with Japanese deflation, and markets are indeed signaling that they expect Europe to experience its own lost decade.

Why is Europe in such dire straits?

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Inheritance Patterns in Citation Networks Reveal Scientific Memes

Inheritance Patterns in Citation Networks Reveal Scientific Memes | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
Memes are the cultural equivalent of genes that spread across human culture by means of imitation. What makes a meme and what distinguishes it from other forms of information, however, is still poorly understood. Our analysis of memes in the scientific literature reveals that they are governed by a surprisingly simple relationship between frequency of occurrence and the degree to which they propagate along the citation graph. We propose a simple formalization of this pattern and validate it with data from close to 50 million publication records from the Web of Science, PubMed Central, and the American Physical Society. Evaluations relying on human annotators, citation network randomizations, and comparisons with several alternative approaches confirm that our formula is accurate and effective, without a dependence on linguistic or ontological knowledge and without the application of arbitrary thresholds or filters.

 

Inheritance Patterns in Citation Networks Reveal Scientific Memes
Phys. Rev. X 4, 041036 – Published 21 November 2014
Tobias Kuhn, Matjaž Perc, and Dirk Helbing

http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevX.4.041036

 


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Impact, productivity, and scientific excellence

Citation metrics are becoming pervasive in the quantitative evaluation of scholars, journals and institutions. More then ever before, hiring, promotion, and funding decisions rely on a variety of impact metrics that cannot disentangle quality from productivity, and are biased by factors such as discipline and academic age. Biases affecting the evaluation of single papers are compounded when one aggregates citation-based metrics across an entire publication record. It is not trivial to compare the quality of two scholars that during their careers have published at different rates in different disciplines in different periods of time. We propose a novel solution based on the generation of a statistical baseline specifically tailored on the academic profile of each researcher. By decoupling productivity and impact, our method can determine whether a certain level of impact can be explained by productivity alone, or additional ingredients of scientific excellence are necessary. The method is flexible enough to allow for the evaluation of, and fair comparison among, arbitrary collections of papers --- scholar publication records, journals, and entire institutions; and can be extended to simultaneously suppresses any source of bias. We show that our method can capture the quality of the work of Nobel laureates irrespective of productivity, academic age, and discipline, even when traditional metrics indicate low impact in absolute terms. We further apply our methodology to almost a million scholars and over six thousand journals to quantify the impact required to demonstrate scientific excellence for a given level of productivity.

 

Impact, productivity, and scientific excellence
Jasleen Kaur, Emilio Ferrara, Filippo Menczer, Alessandro Flammini, Filippo Radicchi

http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.7357


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The Urban Village

“I want to be a part of it – New York, New York,” Frank Sinatra sang of the city that has attracted so many of the world’s most ambitious people, from artists and performers to businesspeople and bankers. In a sense, this is not a difficult phenomenon to explain; metropolises like New York City, with their multicultural populations, multinational corporations, and multitude of talented individuals, are rife with opportunities. But the impact of large cities runs deeper than economic or even cultural power; cities can fundamentally change people’s lives – and even the people themselves.

 

by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel

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Top 10 most gender equal countries in the world

Top 10 most gender equal countries in the world | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it
5 Nordic countries, Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, dominate rankings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2014 report.

The report ranks 142 countries on their ability to close the gender gap – making sure women are not held back – in four fundamental areas: economic participation and opportunity, education, health and survival, and political empowerment.

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The world reshaped

The world reshaped | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

In 2015 demographers, teachers and politicians will stop talking about the population pyramid and start referring to the population dome. The change in terminology will reflect a profound shift in the shape and structure of societies—a shift that has been going on for 50 years and is only half complete. 

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Opinion Dynamics with Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the tendency to acquire or evaluate new information in a way that is consistent with one's preexisting beliefs. It is omnipresent in psychology, economics, and even scientific practices. Prior theoretical research of this phenomenon has mainly focused on its economic implications possibly missing its potential connections with broader notions of cognitive science. Methodology/Principal Findings: We formulate a (non-Bayesian) model for revising subjective probabilistic opinion of a confirmationally-biased agent in the light of a persuasive opinion. The revision rule ensures that the agent does not react to persuasion that is either far from his current opinion or coincides with it. We demonstrate that the model accounts for the basic phenomenology of the social judgment theory, and allows to study various phenomena such as cognitive dissonance and boomerang effect. The model also displays the order of presentation effect|when consecutively exposed to two opinions, the preference is given to the last opinion (recency) or the first opinion (primacy)|and relates recency to confirmation bias. Finally, we study the model in the case of repeated persuasion and analyze its convergence properties. Conclusions: The standard Bayesian approach to probabilistic opinion revision is inadequate for describing the observed phenomenology of persuasion process. The simple non-Bayesian model proposed here does agree with this phenomenology and is capable of reproducing a spectrum of effects observed in psychology: primacy-recency phenomenon, boomerang effect and cognitive dissonance. We point out several limitations of the model that should motivate its future development.


by A.E. Allahverdyan, Aram Galstyan

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Podcast: Daniel Chernilo on The Idea of Philosophical Sociology

Podcast: Daniel Chernilo on The Idea of Philosophical Sociology | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

In this presentation, I introduce the idea of philosophical sociology as an enquiry into the relationships between implicit notions of human nature and explicit conceptualizations of social life within sociology. Philosophical sociology is also an invitation to reflect on the role of the normative in social life by looking at it sociologically and philosophically at the same: normative self-reflection is a fundamental aspect of sociology’s scientific tasks because key sociological questions are, in the last instance, also philosophical ones. The idea of philosophical sociology is then sustained on three main pillars and I use them to structure this article: (1) a revalorization of the relationships between sociology and philosophy; (2) a universalistic principle of humanity that works as a major regulative idea of sociological research, and; (3) an argument on the social and pre-social sources of social life. As invitations to embrace posthuman cyborgs, non-human actants and material cultures proliferate, philosophical sociology offers the reminder that we still have to understand more fully who are the human beings that populate the social world.

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Conditions for the Radicality of the P2P Paradigm

Conditions for the Radicality of the P2P Paradigm | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

Peer to peer is essentially a tool or 'model', but whether it can be used for emancipatory purposes depends on a integrated set of conditions. The P2P Foundation has brought together a community of researchers and activists interested in using peer to peer paradigms in every area of social life, and as a pluralist network, combines many different frameworks of understanding, both post-liberal and post-socialist. In this seminar, we will attempt to describe the emergence of p2p models in various domains, look at their commonalities, and see how they can be integrated in a strategy for social change, that creates the conditions for a sustainable and 'just' society. Different scenarios will be presented, from the full integration of p2p in a market economy, via hybrid modes, via the hypothesis of a political economy where peer to peer would be the core logic of value creation.


Seminar held by Michel Bauwens as part of the activities of the 4th Inclusiva-net Meeting: P2P Networks and Processes, an international event that takes place in Medialab-Prado from July 6 to 10, 2009.

 

See the video here.


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Lost in the City: Revisiting Milgram's Experiment in the Age of Social Networks

Lost in the City: Revisiting Milgram's Experiment in the Age of Social Networks | Non-Equilibrium Social Science | Scoop.it

As more and more users access social network services from smart devices with GPS receivers, the available amount of geo-tagged information makes repeating classical experiments possible on global scales and with unprecedented precision. Inspired by the original experiments of Milgram, we simulated message routing within a representative sub-graph of the network of Twitter users with about 6 million geo-located nodes and 122 million edges. We picked pairs of users from two distant metropolitan areas and tried to find a route between them using local geographic information only; our method was to forward messages to a friend living closest to the target. We found that the examined network is navigable on large scales, but navigability breaks down at the city scale and the network becomes unnavigable on intra-city distances. This means that messages usually arrived to the close proximity of the target in only 3–6 steps, but only in about 20% of the cases was it possible to find a route all the way to the recipient, in spite of the network being connected.

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Social media fingerprints of unemployment

Recent wide-spread adoption of electronic and pervasive technologies has enabled the study of human behavior at an unprecedented level, uncovering universal patterns underlying human activity, mobility, and inter-personal communication. In the present work, we investigate whether deviations from these universal patterns may reveal information about the socio-economical status of geographical regions. We quantify the extent to which deviations in diurnal rhythm, mobility patterns, and communication styles across regions relate to their unemployment incidence. For this we examine a country-scale publicly articulated social media dataset, where we quantify individual behavioral features from over 145 million geo-located messages distributed among more than 340 different Spanish economic regions, inferred by computing communities of cohesive mobility fluxes. We find that regions exhibiting more diverse mobility fluxes, earlier diurnal rhythms, and more correct grammatical styles display lower unemployment rates. As a result, we provide a simple model able to produce accurate, easily interpretable reconstruction of regional unemployment incidence from their social-media digital fingerprints alone. Our results show that cost-effective economical indicators can be built based on publicly-available social media datasets.


by Alejandro Llorente, Manuel Garcia-Herranz, Manuel Cebrian, Esteban Moro

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The Bayesian Echo Chamber: Modeling Influence in Conversations

We present the Bayesian Echo Chamber, a new Bayesian generative model for social interaction data. By modeling the evolution of people's language usage over time, this model discovers latent influence relationships between them. Unlike previous work on inferring influence, which has primarily focused on simple temporal dynamics evidenced via turn-taking behavior, our model captures more nuanced influence relationships, evidenced via linguistic accommodation patterns in interaction content. The model, which is based on a discrete analog of the multivariate Hawkes process, permits a fully Bayesian inference algorithm. We validate our model's ability to discover latent influence patterns using transcripts of arguments heard by the US Supreme Court and the movie "12 Angry Men". We showcase our model's capabilities by using it to infer latent influence patterns in Federal Open Market Committee meeting transcripts, demonstrating state-of-the-art performance at uncovering social dynamics in group discussions.

 

by Fangjian Guo, Charles Blundell, Hanna Wallach, Katherine A. Heller


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