Harnessing sensory prediction for nonliving systems

Prediction is a key part of complex systems, in a wide variety of fields. Physicists and mathematicians use prediction performance to evaluate their models of mechanical systems; engineering prediction algorithms can inform the design of complicated devices. Prediction is also integral in artificial intelligence, in large language models like ChatGPT, which are designed to predict a word or words that follow from a prompt. A July 10–14 workshop at SFI called “Sensory Prediction: Engineered and Evolved” met to discuss how to build better models of prediction in living organisms.

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Tina Eliassi-Rad awarded the Lagrange Prize

SFI External Professor Tina Eliassi-Rad won the 2023 Lagrange Prize. The LaGrange Prize recognizes researchers and scientists for their excellence in the study of complexity. The award ceremony was held in Turin, Italy.  

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Applications open for the first Complexity Global School

Graduate students and early-career scholars, as well as change-makers in civil society and industry, based in South Asia and Africa are invited to apply for the first Complexity Global School (CGS) for Emerging Political Economies. CGS will run two concurrent schools — one in South Africa and one in India — December 3–15, 2023. All accepted participants will receive full scholarships, and travel stipends where applicable.

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SFI Board welcomes Dan Tierney

The Santa Fe Institute’s Board of Trustees welcomed Dan Tierney as a new member during the May 2023 Science Board & Board of Trustees Symposium. Tierney, an investor and the founder of Wicklow Capital, describes himself as a systems thinker, innately drawn to interdisciplinary approaches and innovation.

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In memoriam: Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy, a trustee of the Santa Fe Institute and one of the greatest American novelists, passed away on Tuesday, June 12, at his home in Santa Fe. He was 89 years old.

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Interview With Kyle Harper

SFI Fractal Faculty member Kyle Harper, who joined SFI in August 2022, takes an unconventional approach to his studies of Roman history at the University of Oklahoma. With a long-held interest in physics, Harper brings a complex-systems lens to the study of the human past as he explores the rise of technologies, environmental change and constraints, and the spread of diseases. In July 2022, Harper sat down to talk with SFI President David Krakauer about his work. Here are clips from their conversation.

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In memoriam: James Hartle

James Hartle, External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed away on May 17 in Switzerland at the age of 83. A longtime familiar face at SFI, Jim offered profound insights into conversations in a characteristically gentle manner. He will be missed immensely.

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Register for virtual access to Collective Intelligence Symposium & Short Course

Registration for virtual participation in SFI’s three-day Collective Intelligence Symposium & Short Course (CISSC) is now open. With a sold-out in-person event, organizers are offering live streaming and virtual access to posters for remote participants. The $100 online-only registration fee also provides lifetime access to video recordings of the meeting. Seats via Zoom are limited. Interested participants are encouraged to register soon. 

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Study: Reproductive inequality in humans and other mammals

Is human reproduction exceptionally egalitarian compared to other mammals, or do we have high "reproductive skew"? It's a question that a team of more than 100 researchers tackled in a recent paper published in PNAS. Their finding? “Human exceptionalism has been greatly exaggerated,” says SFI External Professor Monique Borgerhoff Mulder (UC Davis).

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In memoriam: James Pelkey

James Pelkey, former member of the SFI Board of Trustees, passed away on February 16, 2023, at the age of 77 in Maui, Hawaii. A committed supporter of the research carried out at SFI, Pelkey served on SFI’s Board of Trustees for a decade, and became the Chair of the Board from 1990-1992.

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Simulation games for pandemic preparedness

SFI Science Board member and External Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers and colleagues organized a May 17-18 workshop to reimagine how pandemic simulation games can help us prepare for the superbugs of the future, bringing together epidemiologists; military war game specialists; officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and experts in human behavior, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. 

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Humans and AI: The many dimensions of understanding

AI and the Barrier of Meaning 2, a workshop held at the Santa Fe Institute on April 24–26, brought together experts working in AI, cognitive science, philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, neuroscience, and law. Videos of the talks from the workshop are now available on YouTube. Similar to the first AI and the Barrier of Meaning workshop, held in 2018, the event focused on questions related to “understanding” and what it means to “extract meaning” in a humanlike way.

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