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OSoMe: the IUNI observatory on social media

OSoMe: the IUNI observatory on social media | Papers | Scoop.it
The study of social phenomena is becoming increasingly reliant on big data from online social networks. Broad access to social media data, however, requires software development skills that not all researchers possess. Here we present the IUNI Observatory on Social Media, an open analytics platform designed to facilitate computational social science. The system leverages a historical, ongoing collection of over 70 billion public messages from Twitter. We illustrate a number of interactive open-source tools to retrieve, visualize, and analyze derived data from this collection. The Observatory, now available at osome.iuni.iu.edu, is the result of a large, six-year collaborative effort coordinated by the Indiana University Network Science Institute.
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Lessons from New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak response

Alexis Robert

The Lancet

 

In the absence of a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or of highly effective pharmaceutical treatments for COVID-19, countries have implemented a large range of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control the spread of the virus.1 These interventions differ in their level of stringency (ie, the severity of the measures) and their ultimate objective (eg, prevent health systems being overwhelmed, suppress incidence to low levels, or reduce incidence to zero and keep it there). With many countries facing epidemic resurgence, evaluating the impact of different strategies implemented in the early phases of the pandemic is crucial for developing an effective long-term response.
New Zealand adopted a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions aiming to bring COVID-19 incidence to zero

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Cultural complexity and complexity evolution

Dwight Read, Claes Andersson

 

We review issues stemming from current models regarding the drivers of cultural complexity and cultural evolution. We disagree with the implication of the treadmill model, based on dual-inheritance theory, that population size is the driver of cultural complexity. The treadmill model reduces the evolution of artifact complexity, measured by the number of parts, to the statistical fact that individuals with high skills are more likely to be found in a larger population than in a smaller population. However, for the treadmill model to operate as claimed, implausibly high skill levels must be assumed. Contrary to the treadmill model, the risk hypothesis for the complexity of artifacts relates the number of parts to increased functional efficiency of implements. Empirically, all data on hunter-gatherer artifact complexity support the risk hypothesis and reject the treadmill model. Still, there are conditions under which increased technological complexity relates to increased population size, but the dependency does not occur in the manner expressed in the treadmill model. Instead, it relates to population size when the support system for the technology requires a large population size. If anything, anthropology and ecology suggest that cultural complexity generates high population density rather than the other way around.

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Planning for sustainable Open Streets in pandemic cities

Daniel Rhoads, Albert Solé-Ribalta, Marta C. González, Javier Borge-Holthoefer

 

In the wake of the pandemic, the inadequacy of urban sidewalks to comply with social distancing remains untackled in academy. Beyond isolated efforts (from sidewalk widenings to car-free Open Streets), there is a need for a large-scale and quantitative strategy for cities to handle the challenges that COVID-19 poses in the use of public space. The main obstacle is a generalized lack of publicly available data on sidewalk infrastructure worldwide, and thus city governments have not yet benefited from a complex systems approach of treating urban sidewalks as networks. Here, we leverage sidewalk geometries from ten cities in three continents, to first analyze sidewalk and roadbed geometries, and find that cities most often present an arrogant distribution of public space: imbalanced and unfair with respect to pedestrians. Then, we connect these geometries to build a sidewalk network --adjacent, but not assimilable to road networks, so fertile in urban science. In a no-intervention scenario, we apply percolation theory to examine whether the sidewalk infrastructure in cities can withstand the tight pandemic social distancing imposed on our streets. The resulting collapse of sidewalk networks, often at widths below three meters, calls for a cautious strategy, taking into account the interdependencies between a city's sidewalk and road networks, as any improvement for pedestrians comes at a cost for motor transport. With notable success, we propose a shared-effort heuristic that delays the sidewalk connectivity breakdown, while preserving the road network's functionality.

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An Overview on Optimal Flocking

Logan E. Beaver, Andreas A. Malikopoulos

 

The study of robotic flocking has received considerable attention in the past twenty years. As we begin to deploy flocking control algorithms on physical multi-agent and swarm systems, there is an increasing necessity for rigorous promises on safety and performance. In this paper, we present an overview the literature focusing on optimization approaches to achieve flocking behavior that provide strong safety guarantees. We separate the literature into cluster and line flocking, and categorize cluster flocking with respect to the system objective, which may be realized by a reactive, or planning, control algorithm. We also present several approaches aimed at minimizing flocking communication and computational requirements in real systems via neighbor filtering and event-driven planning. We conclude the overview with our perspective on the outlook and future research direction of optimal flocking algorithms.

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K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic

K: The Overlooked Variable That's Driving the Pandemic | Papers | Scoop.it

ZEYNEP TUFEKCI

 

There’s something strange about this coronavirus pandemic. Even after months of extensive research by the global scientific community, many questions remain open.

Why, for instance, was there such an enormous death toll in northern Italy, but not the rest of the country? Just three contiguous regions in northern Italy have 25,000 of the country’s nearly 36,000 total deaths; just one region, Lombardy, has about 17,000 deaths. Almost all of these were concentrated in the first few months of the outbreak. What happened in Quito, Ecuador, in April, when so many thousands died so quickly that bodies were abandoned in the sidewalks and streets? Why, in the spring of 2020, did so few cities account for a substantial portion of global deaths, while many others with similar density, weather, age distribution, and travel patterns were spared? What can we really learn from Sweden, hailed as a great success by some because of its low case counts and deaths as the rest of Europe experiences a second wave, and as a big failure by others because it did not lock down and suffered excessive death rates earlier in the pandemic? Why did widespread predictions of catastrophe in Japan not bear out? The baffling examples go on.

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How democracies can claim back power in the digital world

How democracies can claim back power in the digital world | Papers | Scoop.it

Technology companies have taken many aspects of tech governance from democratically elected leaders. It will take an international effort to fight back.
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A universal system for digitization and automatic execution of the chemical synthesis literature

S. Hessam M. Mehr, Matthew Craven, Artem I. Leonov, Graham Keenan, Leroy Cronin

Science  02 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6512, pp. 101-108
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc2986

 

A typical chemist running a known reaction will start by finding the method described in a published paper. Mehr et al. report a software platform that uses natural language processing to translate the organic chemistry literature directly into editable code, which in turn can be compiled to drive automated synthesis of the compound in the laboratory. The synthesis procedure is intended to be universally applicable to robotic systems operating in a batch reaction architecture. The full process is demonstrated for synthesis of an analgesic as well as common oxidizing and fluorinating agents.

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Funding CRISPR: Understanding the role of government and private sector actors in transformative innovation systems

David Fajardo-Ortiz, Stephan Hornbostel, Maywa Montenegro-de-Wit, Annie Shattuck

 

CRISPR/Cas has the potential to revolutionize medicine, agriculture, and the way we understand life itself. Understanding the trajectory of innovation, how it is influenced and who pays for it, is essential for such a transformative technology. The University of California and the Broad/Harvard/MIT systems are the two most prominent academic institutions involved in the research and development of CRISPR/Cas. Here we present a model of co-funding networks for CRISPR/Cas research at these institutions, using funding acknowledgments to build connections. We map papers representing 95% of citations on CRISPR/Cas from these institutions grouped by the stage each represents in the research translation process (as a biological phenomenon, as a research tool, as a set of technologies, and applications of that technology), and use a novel technique to analyse the relationships between the structures of the co-funding networks, the phase of research, and funding sources. The co-funding subnetworks were similar in that US government research funding played the decisive role in early stage research. Research at Broad/Harvard/MIT is also strongly supported by philanthropic/charitable organizations in later stages of the translation process, clustered around certain topics. Applications for CRISPR technologies were underrepresented, which bolsters findings on the preponderance of the US private sector in developing applications, and the disproportionate number of Chinese institutions filing patents for industrial and food systems applications. These network models raise fundamental questions about the role of the state in supporting breakthrough innovations, risk, reward, and the influence of the private sector and philanthropy over the trajectory of transformative technologies.

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Complexity Scientist Beats Traffic Jams Through Adaptation

Complexity Scientist Beats Traffic Jams Through Adaptation | Papers | Scoop.it
To tame urban traffic, the computer scientist Carlos Gershenson finds that letting transportation systems adapt and self-organize often works better than trying to predict and control them.
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A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird

A neural correlate of sensory consciousness in a corvid bird | Papers | Scoop.it

Andreas Nieder, Lysann Wagener, Paul Rinnert

Science  25 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6511, pp. 1626-1629
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1447

 

Subjective experiences that can be consciously accessed and reported are associated with the cerebral cortex. Whether sensory consciousness can also arise from differently organized brains that lack a layered cerebral cortex, such as the bird brain, remains unknown. We show that single-neuron responses in the pallial endbrain of crows performing a visual detection task correlate with the birds’ perception about stimulus presence or absence and argue that this is an empirical marker of avian consciousness. Neuronal activity follows a temporal two-stage process in which the first activity component mainly reflects physical stimulus intensity, whereas the later component predicts the crows’ perceptual reports. These results suggest that the neural foundations that allow sensory consciousness arose either before the emergence of mammals or independently in at least the avian lineage and do not necessarily require a cerebral cortex.

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What COVID-19 Reinfection Means for Vaccines

What COVID-19 Reinfection Means for Vaccines | Papers | Scoop.it

We now know repeat infections are possible; understanding them will shape the fight against the pandemic

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International Journal of Complexity in Education

International Journal of Complexity in Education | Papers | Scoop.it

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Complexity in Education (IJCE). The aim of the journal is to disseminate mainly empirical research about the application of complexity theory paradigm to educational processes in the broadest sense of the word. The new paradigm focuses on general and specific properties of complex systems and includes the related subfields, such as chaos theory, agent-based modeling, social network analysis, cellular automata and catastrophe theory. In addition, it embraces all other theories and methods that have been developed explicitly to capture complex and unpredictable processes. The above comprise a distinct intellectual tradition that focuses on the study of all things complex, systemic, dynamical and nonlinear and while they typically utilize quantitative approaches, qualitative inquiries are not excluded as long as they adhere to philosophical –ontological and epistemological-considerations of Complex Adaptive Systems (...)

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‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus

‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus | Papers | Scoop.it
A novel form of immunological memory that was mostly ignored for a century extends the benefits of vaccines. It could be of help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Emergence of Organisms

Emergence of Organisms | Papers | Scoop.it

Andrea Roli and Stuart A. Kauffman

Entropy 2020, 22(10), 1163

 

Since early cybernetics studies by Wiener, Pask, and Ashby, the properties of living systems are subject to deep investigations. The goals of this endeavour are both understanding and building: abstract models and general principles are sought for describing organisms, their dynamics and their ability to produce adaptive behavior. This research has achieved prominent results in fields such as artificial intelligence and artificial life. For example, today we have robots capable of exploring hostile environments with high level of self-sufficiency, planning capabilities and able to learn. Nevertheless, the discrepancy between the emergence and evolution of life and artificial systems is still huge. In this paper, we identify the fundamental elements that characterize the evolution of the biosphere and open-ended evolution, and we illustrate their implications for the evolution of artificial systems. Subsequently, we discuss the most relevant issues and questions that this viewpoint poses both for biological and artificial systems.

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Beyond COVID-19: Network science and sustainable exit strategies

James Bell, Ginestra Bianconi, David Butler, Jon Crowcroft, Paul C.W Davies, Chris Hicks, Hyunju Kim, Istvan Z. Kiss, Francesco Di Lauro, Carsten Maple, Ayan Paul, Mikhail Prokopenko, Philip Tee, Sara I. Walker

 

On May 28th and 29th, a two day workshop was held virtually, facilitated by the Beyond Center at ASU and Moogsoft Inc. The aim was to bring together leading scientists with an interest in Network Science and Epidemiology to attempt to inform public policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Epidemics are at their core a process that progresses dynamically upon a network, and are a key area of study in Network Science. In the course of the workshop a wide survey of the state of the subject was conducted. We summarize in this paper a series of perspectives of the subject, and where the authors believe fruitful areas for future research are to be found.

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Moving in Sync Creates Surprising Social Bonds among People

Moving in Sync Creates Surprising Social Bonds among People | Papers | Scoop.it
Dancing, rowing and even finger tapping in unison unleash powerful forces in the brain that drive good feelings
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The cost of coordination can exceed the benefit of collaboration in performing complex tasks

Vince J. Straub, Milena Tsvetkova, Taha Yasseri

 

Collective decision-making is ubiquitous when observing the behavior of intelligent agents, including humans. However, there are inconsistencies in our theoretical understanding of whether there is a collective advantage from interacting with group members of varying levels of competence in solving problems of varying complexity. Moreover, most existing experiments have relied on highly stylized tasks, reducing the generality of their results. The present study narrows the gap between experimental control and realistic settings, reporting the results from an analysis of collective problem-solving in the context of a real-world citizen science task environment in which individuals with manipulated differences in task-relevant training collaborated on the Wildcam Gorongosa task, hosted by The Zooniverse. We find that dyads gradually improve in performance but do not experience a collective benefit compared to individuals in most situations; rather, the cost of team coordination to efficiency and speed is consistently larger than the leverage of having a partner, even if they are expertly trained. It is only in terms of accuracy in the most complex tasks that having an additional expert significantly improves performance upon that of non-experts. Our findings have important theoretical and applied implications for collective problem-solving: to improve efficiency, one could prioritize providing task-relevant training and relying on trained experts working alone over interaction and to improve accuracy, one could target the expertise of selectively trained individuals.

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Virtual scientific conferences open doors to researchers around the world

Virtual scientific conferences open doors to researchers around the world | Papers | Scoop.it

(...) But as the pandemic forced many conferences to adopt virtual formats, the option to attend from home—often with discounted or free registration—led to surges in participation. A survey by Science Careers of 10 U.S.-based meetings of scientific societies across a variety of disciplines showed that most saw higher—and perhaps more diverse—attendance than in previous years. The Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (commonly referred to as “CLEO”) and the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting—both of which offered free access—showed the greatest attendance increases, growing approximately fivefold to about 20,000 and 100,000 attendees, respectively.

But virtual conferences may not serve the needs of all scientific communities. The Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM), for example, was smaller than it had been in previous years, despite offering a registration discount of about 70%. “Some might still value face-to-face interactions,” (...) 

june holley's curator insight, October 5, 7:47 AM

it's amazing how this is happening! Will it make a difference?

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COVID has killed more than one million people. How many more will die?

COVID has killed more than one million people. How many more will die? | Papers | Scoop.it
Researchers warn that official figures underestimate the pandemic’s real death toll, which could more than triple if the virus is allowed to spread unchecked.
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Use and non-use value of nature and the social cost of carbon

Bernardo A. Bastien-Olvera & Frances C. Moore
Nature Sustainability (2020)


Climate change is damaging ecosystems throughout the world with serious implications for human well-being. Quantifying the benefits of reducing emissions requires understanding these costs, but the unique and non-market nature of many goods provided by natural systems makes them difficult to value. Detailed representation of ecological damages in models used to calculate the costs of greenhouse gas emissions has been largely lacking. Here, we have expanded a cost–benefit integrated assessment model to include natural capital as a form of wealth. This brings benefits to people through non-use existence value and as an input into the production of ecosystem services and market goods. In our model, using central estimates for all parameters, optimal emissions reach zero by the year 2050, limiting warming to 1.5 °C by the year 2100. We used Monte Carlo analysis to examine the influence of several key uncertain model parameters, and examined the effect of adaptive investments in natural systems that partially offset climate damages. Overall, we show that accounting for the use and non-use value of nature has large implications for climate policy. Our analysis suggests that better understanding climate impacts on natural systems and associated welfare effects should be a high priority for future research.

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Is the cultural evolution of technology cumulative or combinatorial?

Explanations of human technology often point to both its cumulative and combinatorial character. Using a novel computational framework, where individual agents attempt to solve problems by modifying, combining and transmitting technologies in an open-ended search space, this paper re-evaluates two prominent explanations for the cultural evolution of technology: that humans are equipped with (i) social learning mechanisms for minimizing information loss during transmission, and (ii) creative mechanisms for generating novel technologies via combinatorial innovation. Here, both information loss and combinatorial innovation are introduced as parameters in the model, and then manipulated to approximate situations where technological evolution is either more cumulative or combinatorial. Compared to existing models, which tend to marginalize the role of purposeful problem-solving, this approach allows for indefinite growth in complexity while directly simulating constraints from history and computation. The findings show that minimizing information loss is only required when the dynamics are strongly cumulative and characterised by incremental innovation. Contrary to previous findings, when agents are equipped with a capacity for combinatorial innovation, low levels of information loss are neither necessary nor sufficient for populations to solve increasingly complex problems. Instead, higher levels of information loss are advantageous for unmasking the potential for combinatorial innovation. This points to a parsimonious explanation for the cultural evolution of technology without invoking separate mechanisms of stability and creativity.

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The hysteresis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet

The hysteresis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet | Papers | Scoop.it
Julius Garbe, Torsten Albrecht, Anders Levermann, Jonathan F. Donges & Ricarda Winkelmann 
Nature volume 585, pages538–544(2020)

 

More than half of Earth’s freshwater resources are held by the Antarctic Ice Sheet, which thus represents by far the largest potential source for global sea-level rise under future warming conditions1. Its long-term stability determines the fate of our coastal cities and cultural heritage. Feedbacks between ice, atmosphere, ocean, and the solid Earth give rise to potential nonlinearities in its response to temperature changes. So far, we are lacking a comprehensive stability analysis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet for different amounts of global warming. Here we show that the Antarctic Ice Sheet exhibits a multitude of temperature thresholds beyond which ice loss is irreversible. Consistent with palaeodata2 we find, using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model3,4,5, that at global warming levels around 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, West Antarctica is committed to long-term partial collapse owing to the marine ice-sheet instability. Between 6 and 9 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, the loss of more than 70 per cent of the present-day ice volume is triggered, mainly caused by the surface elevation feedback. At more than 10 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels, Antarctica is committed to become virtually ice-free. The ice sheet’s temperature sensitivity is 1.3 metres of sea-level equivalent per degree of warming up to 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, almost doubling to 2.4 metres per degree of warming between 2 and 6 degrees and increasing to about 10 metres per degree of warming between 6 and 9 degrees. Each of these thresholds gives rise to hysteresis behaviour: that is, the currently observed ice-sheet configuration is not regained even if temperatures are reversed to present-day levels. In particular, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet does not regrow to its modern extent until temperatures are at least one degree Celsius lower than pre-industrial levels. Our results show that if the Paris Agreement is not met, Antarctica’s long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically increase and exceed that of all other sources.

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A Dialogue Concerning the Essence and Role of Information in the World System

A Dialogue Concerning the Essence and Role of Information in the World System | Papers | Scoop.it

Mark Burgin and Jaime F. Cárdenas-García

Information 2020, 11(9), 406

 

The goal of this paper is to represent two approaches to the phenomenon of information, explicating its nature and essence. In this context, Mark Burgin demonstrates how the general theory of information (GTI) describes and elucidates the phenomenon of information by explaining the axiomatic foundations for information studies and presenting the comprising mathematical theory of information. The perspective promoted by Jaime F. Cárdenas-García is based on Gregory Bateson’s description of information as “difference which makes a difference” and involves the process of info-autopoiesis as a sensory commensurable, self-referential feedback process.

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Symbiosis Promotes Fitness Improvements in the Game of Life

Peter D. Turney

Artificial Life
Volume 26 | Issue 3 | Summer 2020
p.338-365

 

We present a computational simulation of evolving entities that includes symbiosis with shifting levels of selection. Evolution by natural selection shifts from the level of the original entities to the level of the new symbiotic entity. In the simulation, the fitness of an entity is measured by a series of one-on-one competitions in the Immigration Game, a two-player variation of Conway's Game of Life. Mutation, reproduction, and symbiosis are implemented as operations that are external to the Immigration Game. Because these operations are external to the game, we can freely manipulate the operations and observe the effects of the manipulations. The simulation is composed of four layers, each layer building on the previous layer. The first layer implements a simple form of asexual reproduction, the second layer introduces a more sophisticated form of asexual reproduction, the third layer adds sexual reproduction, and the fourth layer adds symbiosis. The experiments show that a small amount of symbiosis, added to the other layers, significantly increases the fitness of the population. We suggest that the model may provide new insights into symbiosis in biological and cultural evolution.

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How Renormalization Saved Particle Physics

How Renormalization Saved Particle Physics | Papers | Scoop.it
Renormalization has become perhaps the single most important advance in theoretical physics in 50 years.
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