To combat online hate speech, organize!

Hate speech and disinformation have become intractable problems on social media and other online platforms— might counter speech be an effective strategy to curb it? It’s a difficult thing to address scientifically because so many societal factors are at play beyond the online forums. However, a study published in EPJ Data Science uses a multifaceted approach to begin exploring the question.

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Emergent engineering for an evolving world

Over the past three years, SFI’s Applied Complexity Network (ACtioN) has had a front-row seat in a series of meetings where SFI researchers have been evolving a new kind of engineering, one better suited to the complex systems that drive the contemporary world. Called emergent engineering, it generates the conceptual frameworks and design principles that practitioners need to carry out engineering projects that engage with adaptive agents.

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Research brief: Information architecture

The intensifying search for life on other worlds begs an important question: Will we recognize life when we find it? New work co-authored by SFI External Professor Sara Imari Walker offers an innovative approach.

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Research brief: Innovations at the periphery

The advancement of everything from science to education relies in large part on the ability to come up with new ideas. But under what conditions is innovation most likely? To help answer this key question in the science realm, SFI External Professor Manfred Laubichler and colleagues developed a framework to identify the origins of innovation across one field: evolutionary medicine.

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Research brief: The emergence and perils of polarization

We can’t understand polarization unless we analyze it as a complex system, argues SFI External Professor Scott Page (University of Michigan) in a commentary for a special feature on the dynamics of political polarization in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Research brief: Polarization, diversity, and democratic robustness

Polarization is dangerous for democracy. Though the U.S. Constitution was designed to harness rivalry with a diverse, redundant, and modular set of institutions, if that rivalry curdles into the belief that your competitors are your enemies, those institutions may not be strong enough to hold a nation together. In a Perspective piece in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, SFI External Professor Jenna Bednar (University of Michigan) argues that polarization poses three perils in particular.

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Preventing extreme polarization of political attitudes

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests extreme polarization can be avoided when two sides of a stubbornly intolerant population have low exposure to each other. This paper is part of a PNAS special issue on the dynamics of polarization.

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Santa Fe Institute receives $50 million from Bill Miller

In the largest single donation in its history, the nonprofit Santa Fe Institute will receive $50 million from legendary investor Bill Miller. The gift will advance the Institute's pioneering science of complex systems by growing its research community and expanding the facilities in which it works. 

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Strengthening the second law of thermodynamics

For the past few years, SFI Professor David Wolpert and physicist Artemy Kolchinsky, a former SFI postdoctoral fellow, have been collaborating to better understand the connection between thermodynamics and information processing in computation. Their latest exploration of the topic, published in Physical Review E, looks at applying these ideas to a wide range of classical and quantum areas, including quantum thermodynamics.

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Making entropy production work

In a new paper published in Physical Review X, SFI physicists David Wolpert and Artemy Kolchinsky explore more realistic bounds on entropy production by considering how constraints affect Landauer’s limit. Their approach to understanding how much work can be extracted from a physical system could lead to a better understanding of the thermodynamic efficiency of various real-world systems, ranging from biomolecular machines to recently-developed “information engines” that use information as fuel.

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When is a basin of attraction like an octopus?

Mathematicians who study dynamical systems often focus on the rules of attraction, finding the “basins” that show the states the systems are drawn to. For straightforward systems, the shape and size of a basin is comprehensible, but not so for more complicated systems. In fact, they may look like the tentacles of an octopus, according to a new paper by SFI Postdoc Yuanzhao Zhang and co-author Steven Strogatz. 

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Some colleges are mammals, others are cities

A new study by Santa Fe Institute researchers examines how scale affects factors like tuition, research production, and teaching salaries in different categories of colleges and universities. The research, published in PLOS ONE, is the first to systematically look at interconnected scaling effects in U.S. higher education.

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New documentary captures power of complexity to safeguard humanity’s future

Will the 21st century be humanity’s greatest, or our worst? According to the award-winning new documentary “Solutions,” which was filmed on-location at the Santa Fe Institute, the answer depends on the decisions we make in the next couple of decades, and on our ability to work across disciplines and continents to find revolutionary solutions. 

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