The Computer, the Brain, and the Internet The quest to understand intelligence and consciousness remains one of the greatest scientific challenges of our age. In an effort to explain the brain, scientists have turned historically to computers, both as a tool for studying the brain and mind, and as a model for how the brain might work. We now live in the age of distributed data and computers, and the internet has emerged as a giant cobweb of communication among computers and their users. Some now suggest that the internet is our best current model for the brain, and thought is nothing but a form of search in the space of ideas. As we move towards more advanced technology, the brain, the computer, and the internet are progressively merging, and our identities and insights are assuming a radically new form. In this series of talks and discussions we shall explore this new hybrid world and its implications for the intellectual future of our species.
We live in a post-Darwinian world, and it is no longer possible to conceive of life without some reference to Darwin's theories. But the world is more complex than Darwin supposed. Whereas an evolutionary perspective pervades all of biology, economics and politics, we are confronted by a range of post-Darwinian complexities and challenges that require a new and expanded set of ideas. Five short presentations by SFI faculty explore both the influence and the limitations of Darwin's thought on modern science, and introduce several of the ways the Santa Fe Institute has responded to and built upon Darwin's legacy.
Jeanette Wing, President’s Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and Associate Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the NSF, spoke at SFI July 11 about the need for computational thinking to become a fundamental skill used by everyone.
Julie Hébert and David Zucker — writer/director and producer, respectively — of the CBS television series Numb3rs gave a joint presentation June 25 as part of the 20th-anniversary celebration for the Complex Systems Summer School.
The Journal of Financial Planning recommended and linked to (SFI Trustee) Michael Mauboussin's recent paper for being among the better practitioner-oriented research papers. “Fat Tails and Nonlinearity” (Michael Mauboussin, Legg Mason, December 20, 2007, http://www.leggmason.com/individualinvestors/documents/insights/D4114-FatTailsNonlinearityLMIS.pdf). (... this (is an ) excellent non-journal article. Bringing Nassim Taleb’s now well-known black swan metaphor to the worlds of investment planning, Mauboussin introduces the reader to the concept and risk associated with the complex system we call “the market.”
STEVEN N. DURLAUF has edited another edition of The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, established as the leading reference work in the field. Durlauf is the Kenneth J. Arrow Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA. He has served as Co-Director of the Economics Program at the Santa Fe Institute for which he currently serves as a Science Board and external faculty member. A Fellow of the Econometric Society, Durlauf's research covers a range of topics in macroeconomics, econometrics, and income inequality. The second edition will retain many individual classic essays of enduring importance from its predecessor plus over one thousand new or heavily revised articles.
A Wall Street Journal article about what happens in various societies to people who don't share, solicits the opinion of SFI Professor Howard Gintis. The article notes, "social appearances and the good opinion of others do regulate our behavior. In the only other major cross-cultural study of this sort, Dr. Gintis and his colleagues several years ago examined 15 primitive societies of farmers, foragers, hunters and nomads in 12 countries, not unlike those in which humanity might have first evolved. The researchers found that these people all cared as much about fairness as the economic outcome of a trade." "They care about the ethical value of what they do," said Dr. Gintis.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev decries America's military buildup since the Cold War and he is calling for more international cooperation in addressing political and environmental problems. Gorbachev says the growing U.S. defense budget is pushing other countries to do the same and he contends that the expansion of conventional weapons also will undermine efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Gorbachev, who left office in 1991, was in Santa Fe to deliver a speech to benefit the Santa Fe Institute, a research and education center. He made his comments at a news conference before his lecture.
A panel discussion at SFI on March 20 will examine the limitations and the value of counterinsurgency as a tool for mitigating political violence in war-torn countries. The discussion, open to the public, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the SFI campus.
Sometimes the most effective weapon against disease might not be a drug or vaccine, but a bit of well-turned mathematics. A small working group met at SFI in late February with the goal of improving the mathematical models used to understand, manage, and prevent infectious disease epidemics.
- SFI Professor Sam Bowles (University of Sienna) to speak Friday, February 15 at 10:30 a.m. on "Moral Judgment: Evolutionary and Psychological Perspectives" - SFI External Professor Nina Fedoroff (Advisor to the Secretary of State, U. S. Department of State and Penn Sate University) to speak at 1:45 p.m. Friday, February 15 on "Are There Diverse Paths to Progress in Global Science?" and again Saturday, February 16 Dr. Fedoroff will deliver the Plenary Lecture at 6:30 p.m. - SFI Professor Douglas Erwin (Smithsonian Institution) will speak Monday, February 16 at 9:15 a.m. on "Major Transformations in Evolution: The State of the Art and Public Understanding"
(SFI Trustee) Bill Miller is headlined internationally about Yahoo!'s possible merger with Microsoft. "The second-largest shareholder ...thinks the software giant will have to sweeten its offer to get the $44.6 billion deal done. Bill Miller, who runs Legg Mason's Value Trust fund, ...controls more than 80 million Yahoo! shares, or about 6 percent of the company, valued at roughly $2.3 billion...In the letter, he mentions press reports that claim Microsoft was prepared to pay over $40 a share for Yahoo! last year and that his own valuations of the company are in that range, although he didn't say how much he wants from Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer. "We think MSFT will need to enhance its offer if it wants to complete a deal," Miller said."
Are there rules, akin to the laws of physics, that explain the patterns and regularities that arise in human society? Participants in a three-day January workshop in Santa Fe, organized by SFI Postdoctoral Fellow Aaron Clauset and Michelle Girvan (former SFI postdoc, now University of Maryland), addressed that question drawing on principles of statistics, physics, computation, chemistry, political science, and sociology.