Exclusive art piece for SFI's 2022 ACtioN & Board of Trustees Symposium, by Douglas Draper (2022).
Santa Fe, NM

All day


SFI co-founder Murray Gell-Mann once quipped “Think how hard physics would be if particles could think.” The same kind of difficulty confronts societies, economies, polities, institutions, and distributed software technologies. The outstanding 21st century question is how do we understand and guide large-scale collectives? Emergent Engineering is the name we give to this pursuit.

Traditional engineering is relatively simple. Emergent engineering is fiendishly difficult.  Imagine how much harder designing a building, machine, or watch would be if their components could autonomously adapt and pursue their own objectives?

We face this challenge when tackling many of humanity's greatest challenges: ideological polarization, systemic poverty, climate change, running global organizations, hyper-inflation, technological takeover, and  pandemics. All of these  motivate us to engineer outcomes in systems that are collectively based on adaptive agents.

In November 2022, our Annual Applied Complexity Network and Board of Trustees Symposium continued to build on a series of prior ACtioN meetings and ongoing SFI research to take a broad survey of Emergent Engineering applied to the 21st Century’s most challenging problems, which are potentially all variants of a single dilemma.

This is a private meeting, open to SFI researchers, Trustees, ACtioN members, and Complexity Society donors. To learn more about becoming an ACtioN member or Complexity Society donor, please contact .


Day 1 - November 4, 2022
09:00 AM - 11:45 AMTutorial on Scale
Veronica Cappelli, Chris Kempes
12:00 PM - 1:00 PMLunch
1:00 PM - 1:45 PMThe 21st Century Problem: Coordinating and Directing Decentralized Systems of Locally-Adaptive Agents
David Krakauer
1:45 PM - 2:30 PMEmergent Engineering in Cities
Luis Bettencourt
2:30 PM - 3:00 PMAfternoon Break
3:00 PM - 3:45 PMSynthesizing Engineering and Economics for Coordination in Electric Systems: Transactive Energy
Lynne Kiesling
3:45 PM - 4:45 PMEmergently Engineering Clouds: The Promise and Peril of Web3
Evan Miyazono, Maell Cullen, David Wolpert
5:00 PM - 8:30 PMDinner
Day 2 - November 5, 2022
08:30 AM - 09:30 AMBreakfast
09:30 AM - 10:30 AMDynamics of the Anthropocene
Manfred Laubichler, Geoffrey West
10:30 AM - 11:15 AMThe Built Environment Microbiome: Emergent Engineering for Public and Planetary Health
Jessica Green
11:15 AM - 11:30 AMMorning Break
11:30 AM - 12:30 PMEmergent Political Economies Panel
12:30 PM - 1:30 PMLunch
1:30 PM - 2:00 PMPostdoc Flash Talks
Daniel Muratore, Kelle Dhein, Pedro Márquez-Zacarías, Yuanzhao Zhang, Helena Miton
2:00 PM - 3:00 PMEmergent Engineering in Social Systems
Rebecca Kantar, Jim Rutt, Rajiv Sethi
3:00 PM - 3:15 PMAfternoon Break
3:15 PM - 4:00 PMEmergent Polarization and Fragmentation in Social Networks
Mason Porter
4:00 PM - 4:45 PMLet’s Get Real - Promises and Perils of the Decentralized Paradigm
Simon DeDeo
5:00 PM - 8:00 PMClosing Reception

Speakers Include

Luis BettencourtLuis BettencourtPritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, and External Professor at SFI
Veronica CappelliVeronica Roberta CappelliApplied Complexity Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute
Maell CullenMaell CullenProgram Postdoctoral Fellow Santa Fe Institute
Simon DeDeoSimon DeDeoSFI External Professor & Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Jessica GreenJessica GreenCEO & Co-Founder of Phylagen, and Science Board Member & External Professor at SFI
Rebecca KantarRebecca KantarVice President of Education at Roblox
Kelle DheinKelle DheinComplexity & Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at SFI
Chris KempesChris KempesProfessor + Science Steering Committee Member at SFI
Lynne KieslingLynne KieslingResearch Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, and Co-Director of the Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics
David KrakauerDavid KrakauerPresident + William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at SFI
Manfred LaubichlerManfred LaubichlerPresident's Professor & Director (ASU) and External Professor (SFI)
Pedro Márquez-ZacaríasPedro Márquez-ZacaríasComplexity Postdoctoral Fellow Santa Fe Institute
Helena MitonHelena MitonComplexity Postdoctoral Fellow, Omidyar Fellow, ASU-SFI Center Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute
Evan MiyazonoEvan MiyazonoResearch Team Lead at Protocol Labs
Daniel MuratoreDaniel MuratoreComplexity Postdoctoral Fellow Santa Fe Institute
Mason PorterMason PorterProfessor at UCLA, and External Professor at SFI
Jim RuttJim RuttTrustee at the Santa Fe Institute
Rajiv SethiRajiv SethiProfessor of Economics at Columbia University, and External Professor & Science Steering Committee Member at SFI
Geoffrey WestGeoffrey WestPast President, Shannan Distinguished Professor + Science Steering Committee Member at SFI
David WolpertDavid WolpertProfessor at SFI; External Professor at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna
Yuanzhao ZhangYuanzhao ZhangComplexity Postdoctoral Fellow Santa Fe Institute

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