- CATEGORY / complexity
- How would science be different if humans were different?
How would science be different if humans were different — if we had different physiological limits? Obviously, if our senses were finer, we wouldn’t need the same amount of manufactured instrumentation to reach the same conclusions. But there are deeper implications. If our senses were packed denser, and if we could faithfully process and perceive […]
- Sailing west down the Panama Canal will get you into which ocean?
The Atlantic. And when you get to the Pacific, and sail up to L.A., you can drive west toward Reno. WHile we’re at it, there is also a sliver of the world where the timezones go backward. Thank you geopolitics. Photo from Wikipedia.
- Don’t let Airbnb, Uber, or Peers redefine sharing
When thought leaders are VC-funded you have to be careful. Market cheerleaders Peers and SOCAP associated themselves with alternative economics by holding a conference about sharing economies. The message seems to be that market exchange can be called sharing when it happens between web users. It reads to me like pressure to paint orthodox concepts […]
- What polished bronze can teach us about crowdsourcing
Crowds can take tasks that would be too costly for any individual, and perform them effortless for years — even centuries. You can’t tell the crowd what it wants to do or how it wants to do it. More polished parts A couple more Also common: noses, hands, and feet.
- The market distribution of the ball, a thought experiment.
The market is a magical thing. Among other things, it has been entrusted with much of the production and distribution the world’s limited resources. But markets-as-social-institutions are hard to understand because they are tied up with so many other ideas: capitalism, freedom, inequality, rationality, the idea of the corporation, and consumer society. It is only […]
- The birthplace of Western civilization was killed during the birth of Western civilization.
Deforestation from Classical Period (~1000BCE and on) mettallurgy in the Holy Land dramatically amplified the effects of an otherwise small regional trend towards a warmer and drier climate. Before 10,000 years ago, we were in a different geological and human era and you can’t say too much about civilization. But starting at 10,000 until 2,000 […]
- Ouroboros and the failures of complex systems
This is a little intense, it should be enough to just watch enough of the initial seconds to satisfy yourself that Ouroboros exists. I’d post a photo, but the photo I saw seemed photoshopped. That’s how I found the video. A complex system has failed to integrate the proper information into its decision. I’d guess […]
- In PLOS ONE: Cyclic dynamics driven by iterated reasoning
This paper, published with my advisor Rob Goldstone, reports a major result of my dissertation, that people can flock not only physically, but also in their depth of iterated reasoning through each other’s motives. It is interesting because of the many economists who hoped that type of reasoning would prevent flocking. Ha! * Here is […]
- Political use of the rhetoric of complex systems
I’m excited about the field called “complex systems” because it reflects of best of science’s inherent humility: everything affects everything, and we oughtn’t pretend that we know what we’re doing. I think of that as a responsible perspective, and I think it protects science from being abused (or being an abuser) in the sociopolitical sphere. […]
- Vulnerability of decentralized systems
Myopia in decentralized systems: The Ant Well explained here And here is the opposite: unexpected success.
- The free market: Burning man’s less successful social experiment
Burning Man is a big classic successful event sort of thing out in a Nevada desert. It has been getting more and more popular, but there is only room for 40,000 people. So what’s the best way to distribute 40,000 tickets among 80,000 people fairly and efficiently? They’ve always done it one way, but as […]